Oregon Caves National Monument

"Banana Grove" flowstone in Oregon Caves National Monument

Oregon Caves National Monument is a 4,558-acre United States National Monument in Southern Oregon that protects a three-mile long cave located in the marble rock within the Siskiyou Mountains.

Understand

History

The first person known to have entered the cave was Elijah Davidson, who followed his dog Bruno into the cave while pursuing a bear in late November 1874. After venturing into the cave and exhausting his supply of matches the hunter was forced to crawl in darkness out of the cave, following the underground river for guidance. At the urging of his brother, Davidson returned to the cave in 1877, this time with more light, to further explore the cave.

While few people visited the cave in the ten years after its discovery, the following two decades saw several private investors try (and fail) to turn the cave into a tourist attraction. President Taft declared the area a national monument in 1909, and the construction of the Caves Highway in 1922 resulted in a huge increase in visitors to the caves.

Landscape

Oregon Caves are unusual due to the fact that the rock is marble, although the caves were formed from the common process of slightly acidic water seeping through cracks. It is believed that the cave is at least one million years old, and possibly several million years in age.

Flora and fauna

Trees in the monument include Douglas fir, oak, white fir, and alder, including "Big Tree", which at 42 feet (12 m) in diameter is the largest Douglas fir in Oregon.

The park is home to approximately 50 species of mammals, 86 species of birds, and 11 species of reptiles and amphibians. Nearly 160 species are found inside the cave, including 8 species of bats. The most commonly seen animals include black-tailed deer and Townsend's chipmunk, but lucky visitors may see black bear, cougar, northern flying squirrel, and Pacific giant salamander.

Climate

The monument is located at 4,000 feet (1,220 meters) elevation and experiences summer temperatures between 65-85°F (18-29°C). The area gets over 50 inches of rain per year, much of it in the fall. Winters are snowy and chains may be required on the park highway, and the road may be temporarily closed during winter storms.

Get in

The only road to the park is Oregon Route 46, a winding mountain road that travels 20 miles east from the town of Cave Junction. The road is not recommended for trailers and RVs beyond milepost 12.

Fees/Permits

There is no park entry fee, but fees are charged for cave tours.

Get around

The park is compact, so visitors park at the lower parking lot and then walk. The Chateau and Visitors Center are located about one-quarter mile up a paved roadway from the main parking lot, and trails are well-maintained.

See

Do

Cave tours

Reservations for cave tours are on a first come, first served basis and are available from the visitor center. The busiest times are between 11AM and 3PM, when waits can be up to two hours; early arrival is recommended. Children shorter than 42" in height are not allowed on cave tours. Due to technical difficulties credit cards may not always be accepted, so ensure you can pay in cash if necessary. Tours are not available from November through mid-March in order to protect hibernating bats. Backpacks, food, drinks, gum, tobacco, canes, flashlights and tripods are not allowed in the cave. Temperatures in the cave average 44°F (7°C) year-round, so a jacket is recommended.

Hiking

Eat

Sleep

The Chateau at Oregon Caves

Lodging

Camping

There are no campgrounds within the park, but there are two forest service campgrounds located on the park road just outside of the park borders.

Backcountry

There is no camping allowed within the monument, but backcountry camping is allowed outside of the park borders in designated areas within the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

Go next

Routes through Oregon Caves National Monument

Ends at Cave Junction  W  E  END


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, May 23, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.