Oregon Caves National Monument

Things To Do

  • Tour a marble cave (no self-guided tours).
  • Explore or stay in a National Historic Landmark, Oregon Caves Chateau.
  • Discover the four hiking trails through the ancient forests on the monument.
  • Participate in Ranger Programs and understand more about wildlife and plants on the monument.
  • Earn a Junior Ranger Badge and help protect and preserve the monument.

Cave Tours

"Never attempt to go through the caves without a competent guide as there are a thousand places in which to get lost," Vic Smith, a guard appointed to the Caves, 1911*.

General Cave Tour: Take a tour through a marble cave. Learn and discover how the geology, fossils, cave life, bats, watershed, old-growth forest, and human history make Oregon Caves significant.

Off-Trail Cave Tours: During Saturdays in the summer enjoy an "Introduction to Caving." Get off the beaten path and learn about caving techniques, etiquette, and conservation.

Off-Trail Caving Tours

Introduction to Caving

Due to the strenuous nature of the tour, participants must be in good physical condition and must be able to support their body weight with their arms.

Be prepared to get dirty. Safety equipment and caving gear will be provided.

Tour Information

  • 2008 season:  June 22 - September 7, Sundays at 12:30 pm 
  • Allow approximately 4 hours. Check in at the Visitor Center no later than 12:30 pm the day of your tour. 
  • Minimum age: 15 years. Participants ages 15-17 need a parent’s signature on their waiver before they will be allowed to attend.
  • Minimum height: 5 feet
  • Limited to 6 participants. Tour will not go with less than 3 people.
  • Cost: $30 per person. Sorry, no passes are accepted or discounts given for this tour.
  • Tours are booked on a first-come, first-served basis. Call (541) 592-2100 x237 to make a reservation.

What to Wear

  • Your clothes should allow a free range of movement, maintain a comfortable body temperature, and adequately protect you from the cave. The cave is 44 F. Light long underwear is recommended, but don’t overdress, because you stay warm from moving around. Many cavers wear coveralls.
  • Wear long sleeves and long pants that completely cover your arms and legs.
  • Wear boots that provide traction and ankle support.  Wearing boots is mandatory. 
  • Clothes with lots of loops or buttons should be avoided.
  • Wear "old" clothes. Keep in mind that mud from the cave can permanently stain your clothes.
  • Please do not wear clothes or boots that are already muddy or covered with animal hair.
  • Please do not bring watches, jewelry, or other valuables on the tour.

What to Bring

  • Bring any medical supplies you might need – inhaler, insulin, etc.
  • Bring a change of clothes, because you will get muddy! Helmet, LED light source, gloves, kneepads, and clean bandana will be provided. If you have your own caving gear, you are welcome to use it instead, as long as it is not dirty from another cave. Elbow pads are not provided – bring your own if you want them. (Please check the restrictions – some types of caving gear are not allowed in Oregon Caves.)
  • You may bring a small water bottle or small camera (at your own risk). Taking your camera into the cave exposes it to dirt and moisture.
  • You may not bring any food, snacks, gum, or tobacco in the cave. Exceptions can be made for medical conditions.
  • Packs are not recommended. All packs must be pre-approved by your guide. Your guides will each be carrying a pack with first aid supplies and spare lights and batteries.

Restrictions

  • This tour not recommended if you have a history of heart or respiratory problems, back or shoulder problems, or joint problems; or if you are prone to panic attacks or claustrophobia; or if you have recently sustained whiplash. You may not attend this tour if you are pregnant.
  • Carbide lamps or other flame-based light sources and hard plastic kneepads are NOT permitted on this tour.
  • You will NOT be allowed to attend this tour wearing shorts or capri pants, open-toed shoes or footwear that does not have adequate tread, or shirts with sleeves that do not cover the entire arm.

What to Expect

  • This tour is designed to provide an introduction to caving. Your guide will give you safety orientation before you enter the cave. Another guide will be trailing the tour to provide additionally safety and assistance with caving moves. On the tour, you will get lots of instruction and practice with safe and low-impact caving techniques and learn how to work together with the other participants to move through the cave.
  • You will have to walk about two tenths of a mile and gain 200 feet in elevation to the cave entrance used for this tour.
  • Though the tour length is less than two tenths of a mile (once you leave the paved path in the cave), the tour is considered strenuous. You will encounter a variety of caving challenges, including climbing and descent over rocky slopes and boulders, hands and knees crawling, belly crawling, and walking over uneven rocky surfaces with potentially wobbly rocks. Caving can feel awkward at first. You will be required to wear your helmet at all times.
  • Negotiating tight spots is part of the fun! The smallest passage has a one-foot high ceiling. It is natural to feel some claustrophobia, but if you know you feel uncontrollably panicked or paralyzed in tight spaces, this tour is not recommended. The tight crawls do not last very long before the cave opens up.
  • Many off-trail passages are marked with flags or surveyor’s tape for the cave’s protection. You will be required to stay with the group and stay between the flags.
  • The cave is 44 F and damp and drippy in places. You may feel some chill set into your hands. One crawl goes through a passage with a wet floor (but not an actual running stream). Expect to get muddy!

Want to do more caving?

  • Research the caves in your area – many offer “spelunker” tours.
  • Join a grotto! Grottos are local caving clubs, and they are registered through the National Speleological Society (NSS). Grottos organize caving trips for their members. Go to the NSS web site at www.caves.org for more information.

Height Requirement

Children must be at least 42 inches (107 cm) tall, pass a steep stair test unassisted, and be able to listen and follow directions from a Ranger for 90 minutes to go on the full tour of the cave. Children cannot be carried through the cave and childcare services are not available.

Safety is our first goal for visitors at Oregon Caves and because the moderately strenuous cave tour route has many stairs with large openings, high hand rails, and steep drop-offs, children must be able to navigate the cave safely without assistance. We want your child to be secure.

There are also a variety of activities that children of all ages can participate in, including our Junior Ranger program, multiple hiking trails, and outdoor Ranger-Led programs for all family members to participate.

Go to Cave Tours page

General Cave Tours

Quick Cave Tour Information:

To access information summarizing cave schedule, fees, and cave tour precautions, you can download this file in adobe reader (pdf) format. If you do not have the software to view these files, download it.

Be Aware That:

Visitors can only enter the cave on a scheduled tour. No self guided tours are available. See Operating Hours & Seasons for more information on tour schedules.

Tours last 90 minutes. Expect at least 15 minutes for the walk back to your car. Wait times can reach up to two hours during the summer season. Tours are considered moderately strenous and children must be over 42 inches (107 cm) in height.

Height Requirement:

Children must be at least 42 inches (107 cm) tall and be able to demonstrate their ability to climb a set of test stairs, unassisted, to go on the full tour of the cave. Children may not be carried through the cave and childcare services are not available. There are also a variety of activities that children of all ages can participate in, including Junior Ranger program, multiple hiking trails and outdoor Ranger-Led programs for all family members to participate.


What NOT to Bring for the Tour

  • Flashlights. The cave is lit and rangers carry flashlights.

 

  • Backpacks, large purses and tripods. These are not permitted in the cave due to low ceilings and narrow passageways. Leave them in your car or check them in at the visitor center.

 

  • Your pet. If you can, leave your pets at home. If you are traveling with your pet, bear in mind that the shade will move while you are inside the cave, and shade is limited.

 

Cave Tour Precautions

The cave tour lasts 90 minutes, is considered moderately strenuous, and is not recommended for people with heart, breathing, or walking problems. The half mile (1 km) route includes more than 500 stairs (most of which are steep and uneven) and a total climb of 230 feet (70 m). The lowest passageway you will have to duck under is about 45 inches (about 1 m) tall.

Visitors have the option to leave the cave 45 minutes into the tour.

The first room of the cave is accessible to visitors using wheelchairs. Canes or walking devices must have stem diameters greater than one inch. For more information, please visit Accessibility.

What to Bring for the Tour

  • Warm clothing. The cave is 44 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius) year round, the temperature of your refrigerator!
  • Good walking shoes. Please do not wear open-toed shoes, flip-flops or sandals without a supportive strap because the trail surface is uneven, slippery, and wet.
  • Optional: camera. Cameras must be on a strap or be able to slip easily into a pocket. Avoid cameras that are carried loose because they can easily be dropped in the cave. Taking pictures with flash is allowed in most areas of the cave but your Ranger will ask you not to take photographs in areas where bats are known to roost. Taking pictures of sleeping bats can disturb them and possibly cause serious harm to them.

 

Nearby Attractions

" I revel in the blueness of these western hill cuttings and the Siskiyous are as lovely as the best," Hamilton M. Laing, 1917 *.

When planning your visit to the Oregon Caves National Monument there are many other local attractions to take into consideration. These attractions are all within a short drive of the cave.

River Access

Caves Creek, Cave Junction, Oregon

Travel Time: 10 - 15 minutes

Distance: 4 miles from Oregon Caves down Hwy 46

There is a day use area at Caves Creek campground. It is across from the campground host's site.

Sucker Creek, Cave Junction, Oregon

Travel Time: 25 - 30 minutes

Distance: 8 miles from Oregon Caves down Hwy 46

There is a day use area at Grayback campground along with camping facilities. There are also picnic areas from the days of the Civilican Conservation Corp (CCC).

Illinois River, Cave Junction, Kerby, & O'Brien, & Selma, Oregon

Travel Time: about 1 hour

Distance: at least 20 miles from Oregon Caves

The wild section of the Illinois River runs for 29 miles through forests and steep canyons through the Illinois Valley.

You can also enjoy a picnic after your swim at the day-use park of Illinois River Forks State Park. Please visit the Illinois Valley Visitor Center for more information.

Rogue River, Grants Pass and Rogue River, Oregon

Travel Time: 1 ½ hours

Distance: at least 40 miles from Oregon Caves

Recreational opportunities abound on the Rogue River and surrounding forest, from white water rafting to wilderness camping, from lake and stream fishing to winter snowmobiling.

Smith River, National Recreation Area, California

Travel Time: 1 ½ hours

Distance: approximately 70 miles from Oregon Caves

If you go to Redwood National Park, in California, you will drive through this recreation area that has one of the most beautiful rivers you may ever see. There is excellent swimming in the summer at Smith River National Recreation Area. The scenery is breathtaking as the river flows through the Redwood Forest at Jedediah Smith Campground. Many hiking trails run through the area which makes for great day-hikes.

Tourist Attractions

There are a variety of tourist attractions which include: boat rides on the Rogue River, The "Oregon Vortex", the nationally recognized, Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Britt Music Festival, Jacksonville Historic Site, Wildlife Safari Animal Park as well as history and art museums.

Wineries

There are two wineries near Oregon Caves, Bridgeview Winery and Foris Winery, as well as several others in the Rogue Valley near Grants Pass.

Berries, Fruits, and Vegetables

This region is often referred to as the berry capital of Oregon with blackberries, raspberries, and huckleberries at the top of the list. Several fruit stands and farmers markets with locally grown produce can be found in the Caves Junction area throughout most of the summer. Tomatoes, corn, and potatoes are among the most common vegetables sold. Apples, pears, and cherries are the common fruit. The region is also gaining a reputation for growing grapes.

During the summer and fall, the city of Grants Pass has a Grower's Market with many local farmers selling organic produce and hand-crafted items.

Local Events

Every second Friday of the month in the summer is Art Walk in Cave Junction and every first Friday is Art Walk in Grants Pass.

The valley hosts many local events during the summer.

June: Iron Horse, Shining Stars

July: Bluegrass Festival

August: Blackberry Festival

September: Labor Day Parade

Parks and Monuments

The Klamath Network

There are six units managed by the National Park Service located throughout northern California and southern Oregon which are all within a day's drive of Oregon Caves. The sites are referred to as the Klamath Network and include Oregon Caves National Monument, Redwood National and State Parks, Crater Lake National Park, Lava Beds National Monument, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, and Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Below includes links and descriptions of the units in the Klamath Network.

Redwood National Park, California

Travel Time: about 2 hours

Distance: approximately 70 miles from Oregon Caves

Take a hike in the Redwood forest. The sixth tallest tree in the world is in Stout Grove, one of the most dramatic stands of redwood trees in this region. This is accessed by Howland Hill Drive, an unpaved road that meanders through trees as tall as a football field is long. Several trails can be found here including the Nickerson Ranch loop that follows Mill Creek through the forest.

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Travel Time: about 3 ½ hours

Distance: approximately 150 miles from Oregon Caves

Crater Lake is the clearest lake in the world and the deepest in the nation. Boat tours take you around the lake during the summer months.

There are a number of hiking trails around the lake, and motorists can take the Rim Drive (closed in winter) to see wonderful views of the crystal clear lake.

Lava Beds National Monument, California

Travel Time: about 4 hours

Distance: approximately 200 miles from Oregon Caves

The Monument occupies over 46,000 acres on the northeast corner of Medicine Lake Volcano. Over the last half-million years, volcanic eruptions on the Medicine Lake shield volcano created an incredibly rugged landscape punctuated by cinder cones, lava flows, spatter cones, lava tube caves and pit craters.

The Monument offers nearly a dozen different trails, and when skies are clear there is a 150 mile view.

The Lava Beds National Monument encompasses the main battlefields of the Modoc War of 1872-73, the only Indian war fought in California.

Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, California

Travel Time: about 4 hours

Distance: approximately 210 miles from Oregon Caves

Whiskeytown is an all season park with year- round recreation. Explore the recreational area by horseback riding, hiking, or mountain biking. During spring, enjoy the beautiful wildflowers and birdwatching opportunities. Cool off in the summers by sailing, water skiing, scuba diving, swimming and fishing in the lake, or find refuge by hiking alongside rushing creeks and waterfalls.

Visitors can also enjoy Ranger-led tours of historic mines and buildings from the Gold Rush Era.

Lassen Volcanic National Park, California

Travel Time: about 5 hours

Distance: approximately 250 miles from Oregon Caves

Lassen Peak is the southernmost active volcano in the Cascade Mountain Range and erupted on May 22, 1915. The series of explosions were the most powerful in the Cascades during the 20th century prior to the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens.

There are over 150 miles of hiking trails to explore and many activities to participate in including kayaking, boating, fishing, swimming, camping, backpacking, day hiking, horseback riding, birdwatching, wildflower viewing,and stargazing.

Bicycling Information

If you plan on riding your bicycle up to Oregon Caves, please be aware that the last 10 miles are all uphill and that the roads can be narrow. There is no bike lane. Be sure to wear bright clothing and be aware of other traffic on the road. Traffic increases on weekends and during the summer.

You can only ride your bicycle on paved roads and in parking areas on the monument. There are no trails on the monument accessible to bicycles. However, you could connect to US Forest Service roads by way of Hwy 46. Please contact the Forest Service for more information.