I love a cave tour.
Oregon Caves may not be as awe-inspiring as Carlsbad, but it has charms of its own.
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3 things to do at Oregon Caves Monument
The park visitor center is housed in a historic 1924 chalet.
There are exhibits on local wildlife and cave ecology.
This is where you buy cave tour tickets or check-in for advance reservations.
Illinois Valley Visitor Center in Cave Junction also offers videos, exhibits, and maps.
You are allowed to leave trailers parked here for the drive up the mountain.
The caves are only open by ranger-led tours. Tours run from early spring through fall – weather dependent.
The main tour is called ‘Discovery Cave Tour’.
Special tours are set aside in the summer for families with children under 13. (They still have to meet the 42-inch height minimum.)
Candlelight tours are also an option.
It’s about a 1/2 mile walk through the cave.
Beware that the passages are tight. You will need to crouch down in several places to squeeze through the passageways. There are 500 stairs and steep areas.
It is moderately demanding. All of the 40-70-year-olds on our tour managed just fine. The guide stops a lot to talk, so you can catch your breath.
Children must be 42 inches tall to enter the cave.
For adventure, off-trail caving visit this page.
We went in October, with a reservation, but we didn’t need one and ended up getting into an earlier tour group.
In the summer, it’s recommended you make an advance reservation to avoid long wait times.
As you leave the cave tour your guide will point out the Cliff Nature Trail trail that winds up the side of the hill for beautiful views of the Siskiyou Mountains.
Other hikes include The Big Tree Trail, which begins at the back of the chalet and winds 1.3 miles to “Big Tree” a Douglas Fir 41 ft in circumference. Continue on The Big Tree Trail and it loops back to the chalet for a total of 3.3 miles.
Old Growth Trail connects the visitor center to the main parking lot – a pleasant 1-mile hike through old-growth forest and marble outcrops.
No Name Trail is a 1.3 mile (steep) trail through a thick forest – this trail features a covered bridge and two waterfalls. Pity they couldn’t think of a more creative name.
Cave Trail connects the Cave Creek Campground. It’s a 3.6-mile jaunt with a 1245 ft elevation gain. Eat your Wheaties!
Bigelow Lakes Trail is a 9.2-mile loop to Mt. Elijah and back – A gain of 2390 ft. This is a full-day hike.
Get an education at Oregon Caves Monument
Learn the lingo
First stop: the park website.
Learn about the preserve – it’s history, culture, and nature with photos and multimedia.
Become a Junior Ranger.
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Know something about caves
Learn the basic cave formations before you go. Ruby Falls website has a simple, beautiful overview of cave formations.
The National Caves Association offers several lesson plans – intended for classroom use, homeschoolers and info-geeks will want to take a look.
Civilian Conservation Corps
Learn about the depression era program President Roosevelt called the ‘Civilian Conservation Corps’
Many of our National Sites – or the historic buildings on them – have the Conservation Corps to thank.
Learning about this program and its impact will increase your appreciation for our National Parks System.
You can start with Wikipedia for a quick overview.
Or check out ‘Our Mark on This Land: A Guide to the Legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps in America’s Parks’
Everything you need to know about visiting Oregon Caves Monument
The park is 20 miles southeast of Cave Junction, OR.
76 miles from Crescent City, CA and 50 miles from Grants Pass, OR.
The road leading to the park is narrow and winding. Give yourself plenty of time.
Caves tours run from early spring to fall. The caves are closed in winter to allow the bats to hibernate.
The surface areas of the park are open year-round.
Cave tours are $10 each.
This is not the most friendly place for people with mobility challenges.
Check the website to see how your specific situation is accommodated.
They do seem willing to do everything possible to assist – so it wouldn’t hurt to call and ask questions.
A few hours is plenty. (Unless you plan to hike to Mt. Elijah)
No food or drink of any kind is allowed in the cave.
No canes, tripods or flashlights.
Dress warm – the caves maintain temperatures in the 40’s.
Important: Do not wear clothing, shoes, or other items that have been inside another cave.
White-nose syndrome spreads between cave environments and hurts the bat population.
Near Oregon Caves
Where to stay
The Chateau is a 1930’s era building that usually offers guest rooms.
It is currently being remodeled and is expected to reopen in 2020.
Camping is allowed between late May and mid-September in a few area campgrounds.
Cave Junction is the closest town.
It is home to a unique lodging option – treehouses.
This isn’t a budget option, but it’s something to write home about.
You can also stay in Grants Pass, Medford, Ashland, Crater Lake, or Crescent City and make it home by evening.
Where to eat
The Chateau serves food – when it is open. (Expected to reopen in 2020)
Food is available in nearby Cave Junction.
Best to bring your own provisions.
We packed a picnic and attempted to eat it next to the Chateau pond, the yellow jackets were crazy bad, sending us running for the sanctuary of our car. So much for communing with nature.
|Cave Junction||18 miles|
|Redwoods National Park||63 miles|
|Brookings, OR||87 miles|
|Ashland, OR||89 miles|
|Eugene, OR||187 miles|
|Portland, OR||292 miles|
|Sacramento, CA||384 miles|
|Seattle, WA||466 miles|
Things to do nearby
What other people say about the Oregon Caves Monument
Traveling Mom took her kids to the Oregon Caves – here are her thoughts.
2 Travel Dads also did the caves kid style. Exploring Oregon Caves National Monument w/Kids
Park Chasers Trip Recap: Oregon Caves National Monument