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"Spring is an excellent time to explore the cave because it's literally alive with tiny creatures; some found nowhere else. And with the snow melting outside, the water flowing into the caves this time of year showcases the processes creating the beautiful cave formations," says Acting Superintendent Sean Denniston.
Bat populations at the cave are threatened by the spread of "white-nose syndrome," fungus that either causes or is a symptom of a disease that is devastating bat populations east of the Rocky Mountains. The Monument is trying to protect its bat population and needs your help. If you have any items that have been worn or used in a cave or mine east of the Rocky Mountains in the US or Canada or a cave or mine in Europe, please leave those items at home.
If you plan to visit the cave early this spring, bad weather may cause road closures or tour cancellations; be prepared for ice and snow on trails leading to cave openings. Check the Monument's website or call ahead for current conditions. Cave tours last about 90 minutes, have a limit of 15 people, and will operate on the following schedule through Memorial Day: March 23 through May 25, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., tours at least once per hour. Please note, during the last two weeks of April, cave tours are provided Friday through Monday and closed Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday--April 16-18, & 23-25. Cave will continue through the fall.
Visitors planning a trip to the Monument should be prepared for the caves' cool, year round temperatures in the low 40s. Those planning on a tour should bring warm clothing even during the summer months. The cave is lit - flashlights are not allowed. Cameras with flash units are permitted, although there are restrictions in bat roosting areas. For safety, Children must be at least 42 inches tall to negotiate the cave's stairs and passageways encountered on the tour.
Tours are on a first-come, first-served basis. The basic cave tour fee for 2013 is $8.50 for adults and $6.00 for youth ages 16 and under. The Monument accepts the Interagency Senior Pass, the Interagency Access Pass and the Interagency Volunteer Pass for admission or admission discount for the basic cave tour. The National Park's Golden Age Passports and Golden Access Passports provide the card holder half price for a cave tour in accordance to the provisions of the individual pass. Tour fees help to fund projects that improve Monument facilities and visitor services, such as restoration of the historic Chateau and new interpretive displays.
Minimal food services are available by the Natural History Association through early May. The Historic Chateau will open with food, lodging and gift shop services on May 11, 2013. For more information on cave tours call 541-592-2100 or visit www.nps.gov/orca. For lodging or reservations at the Chateau, call 541-592-3400.