Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T!
Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve is a protected area in the northern Siskiyou Mountains. The 4,554-acre park, including the marble cave, forests, hiking trails and a historic lodge is 20 miles east of Cave Junction. We traveled here after spending time in Redwoods National Park on the California coast.
We drove the 20-mile, winding mountain road to the Caves Chateau. When I learned that road was the only way in and out of the monument, I changed our hotel to one in Grants Pass. We had teens with us who wouldn’t have appreciated getting away from it all.
I’d reserved our cave tour reservations online. We arrived at the visitor center ahead of schedule. When we checked in, the ranger moved us up to an earlier tour.
We took the Discovery Cave Tour with Ranger Neil. He made the tour with his corny jokes and fun cave facts. Even the teenagers were entertained.
The tour lasted 90 minutes and was pretty strenuous. We were basically climbing around inside a mountain, ascending and descending, squeezing through narrow passageways and stooping to avoid concussing ourselves on low ceilings. In many places the stairs had no railings and the marble floor was slippery. It was a chilly 44 degrees Fahrenheit and we were glad we’d worn our jackets.
After navigating the labyrinth for a while, the path opened up into a huge room with amazing formations, about 200 feet below the surface. Here, we climbed a steep metal staircase to view some awesome ‘drapery’ formations in the dome ceiling.
Out of 4000 caves managed by the National Park Service, only Oregon Cave and two others are made of marble. The rest are formed in limestone.
Once we were all back outside the cave, Ranger Neil took a group photo for us and then accompanied us back to the visitor center to help the girls complete their junior ranger badge.
Location: 19000 Caves Hwy, Cave Junction, OR 97523
Designation: National Monument
Date designated/established: July 12, 1909
Date of my visit: August 2016