National Preserve


Why was the Park Expanded?

A purpose statement identifies the reason(s) for establishing the park and represents both the presidential proclamation for the National Monument signed into law on July 12, 1909 and legislation that created the National Preserve expansion on December 19, 2014.

Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve protects and preserves the scientific interest and the unusually concentrated biology and geology of an important solution cave system and watershed connected to the Siskiyou Mountains for the benefit, understanding, and enjoyment of the public.

An Opportunity to Explore and Access Special Geology of a Cave System and its Relationship to a Mountain Watershed

Visitors to Oregon Caves have opportunities to explore the geologic beauty of caves and to observe how water shapes lands from above and below the surface. The tight twisting and turning cave route allows visitors to connect with a sense of discovery, adventure, and wonder. Mountain trails can lead visitors to scenic vistas, shallow glacial lakes, waterfalls and summer wildflowers.

Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve (nearly 4,600 acres) holds the first subterranean scenic waterway, the River Styx, as well as 15 miles of free-flowing and undeveloped watercourses with the surrounding area of Bigelow lakes and wetland meadows. These rivers, streams, and mountain meadow wetlands have a large number of significant species that support habitats for unique communities of species.

This park watershed is part of headwater tributaries to the Illinois River, one of the last major undammed rivers in the Pacific Northwest. The complex, dynamic cave ecosystem is dependent on the waters of the park unit for its continued existence.

Bird's eye view. An artistic rendering of the National Preserve expansion.

NPS C Willis


Future Management and Protection

The recently designated National Preserve lands add to the list of species, ecosystems, roads, and infrastructure managed by the National Park Service. Long-term protection of the watershed is important to ensure enduring conservation of the park unit's resources and values like water for drinking, fire protection, and sanitation.

Important risk factors for the caves and water supply include fuel loads, forest and soil health, and the effects of livestock grazing. Port-Orford-cedar, an important indicator species for management of the watershed, is threatened by a root disease caused by a water mold.

The park will work with communities and public partners over the next several years to ensure that creation of a new management plan for the National Preserve reflects good practice, is achievable and sustainable for a future public.


Last updated: October 11, 2017

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

19000 Caves Hwy
Cave Junction, OR 97523


541 592-2100

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