Touring Oregon Caves National Monument has been a tradition for over a century, but it’s not for everyone. Tours are considered moderately strenuous. Expect a total climb of 230 feet, including more than 500 stairs, many of which are steep and wet, but most have handrails. Several passages are narrow with low ceilings. Children must be at least 42 inches tall and able to walk and climb on their own. If you don’t have walking or breathing problems, you’ll be fine, but if you start out and find it’s too difficult, you’ll have the option to leave the cave 45 minutes into the tour. Wear good walking shoes and a jacket (year round cave temperature is 44 degrees), and be prepared to be amazed at the underground world!
Although your first inclination might be to bring a flashlight, only rangers are permitted to carry them, plus there are dim lights in the caves. Flash photography is permitted throughout most of the cave tour, but you need to be quick with most of your shots so as not to slow down the tour. Tripods and most camera bags and backpacks are not permitted because there simply isn’t enough room. Wait times for the scheduled tours can reach up to two hours during the summer season. The busiest times are between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm, so arrive earlier or later. Cave tour tickets are sold only at the Monument and are on a first-come, first-served basis.
When your guided tour ends, you’ll have the option of returning to the visitor center via a short walk or a longer hiking trail. The longer route is mostly downhill and provides nice panoramic views of the thick Siskiyou National Forest. You also likely see birds, deer, and small animals along the trail. If you’re still chilly from the cave tour even after the hike, warm up in the 1930’s era coffee shop inside the 23-room Oregon Cave Chateau. Grab a stool at the old-fashioned lunch counter and enjoy a snack. This National Historic Landmark is considered one of the National Park’s Great Lodges. At dinnertime, you can fine dine on local fare in the rustic yet elegant dining room. If you’re a souvenir shopper, don’t miss the locally crafted gifts and works of art in the gift gallery.
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Chateau at the Oregon Caves
(open May through October)
Oregon Caves National Monument
19000 Caves Hwy
Cave Junction, OR 97523
Directions to Oregon Caves National Monument from I-5:
- Take exit 58 to merge onto NE 6th St/OR-99/Redwood Hwy
- Continue to follow Redwood Hwy (3 miles)
- Turn right at US-199 to Cave Junction (28 miles)
- Turn left on OR-46 (a gas station is on the corner)
- Follow OR-46 for 20 miles to the Monument