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On Saturday, June 21, Oregon Caves National Monument will be hosting its annual Community Open House with free admission for the general tour of the cave and an opportunity for visitors to enjoy the historic lodge and its restaurants, Ranger programs, and nature walks through an old-growth forest. Cave tours lasting approximately 80 minutes and accommodating 15 people per tour will begin at 9:00am and will follow every 10 – 15 minutes throughout the day, with the last tour departing at 6:00pm.
Oregon Caves is located about 20 miles from Cave Junction, with the drive taking about 45 minutes. The last eight miles of this road are steep and twist their way into the mountains to the main parking lot of the monument situated at an elevation of 4,000 feet. Temperatures outside the cave can be warm but you should bring a light jacket or sweater for the 80 minute tour of the cave. Temperature in the cave averages 44 degrees. Good walking shoes are recommended, especially if you want to hike on one of the four loop trails at the monument. Cameras are OK to take into the cave, while backpacks or large purses are not. Please note that visitors in wheelchairs can access only the first room of the cave, and children must be at least 42” tall in order to go on the general tour of the cave.
A large visitor turnout is expected for the Oregon Caves Community Open House. There may be a wait before you can get on a tour, so consider signing up at the Visitor Center soon after you arrive by walking ten minutes from the parking lot to the cave area. The visitor center is in the building above the road on the left as you walk into the historic district from the main parking lot.
After signing up for a tour, plan to enjoy scheduled Ranger programs, take nature walks, and visit the Oregon Caves Chateau, a National Historic Landmark. Young people who want to earn a Junior Ranger badge can pick up an activity book in the visitor center. Once the activities are completed, the book can be redeemed for a badge. For those who would like to enjoy a hike in the woods, there are three short loop trails that depart from the historic district. Young people who want to earn trail buttons can pick up the trail activity sheets, hike the trail and complete the sheet to earn the trail button.
Food service is available at the monument with lunches and dinner available at the Chateau dining hall and coffee shop.
There have been many changes at Oregon Caves over the past ten years. Staff and volunteers completed the largest cave restoration project of any cave in the United States. Over 1,300 tons of rubble was removed, the trail route reconstructed, and new lighting installed. In the 1990’s, fossils were discovered in the cave and the monument is recognized for having the most complete jaguar fossil in the United States, the oldest grizzly bear fossil in North America, and the largest collection of salamander fossils in the nation. Some of these fossil bones are located along the tour route. Other research has recently confirmed the cave to contain a large community of cave adapted life, many of which are endemic (native) only to this cave. The tour of the cave will tell you these stories as well as give you an opportunity to see the formations and hear the sounds of the marble halls of Oregon Caves.
For further information about the Oregon Caves Community Open House, call (541) 592-2100 extension 262.