ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Oregon Caves National Monument

Updated on January 23, 2018
DzyMsLizzy profile image

State and national parks and historical attractions have long been favorite destinations for Liz, and she loves to write about them.

Entry to the Oregon Caves National Monument along the road
Entry to the Oregon Caves National Monument along the road | Source

A Brief History

Local Indians, the Takelma, lived in the area for thousands of years, where the park now is. There has been no evidence found of native use of the cave, although they undoubtedly knew of its existence.

It wasn't until 1874 that it was discovered by Elijah Davidson, the first white man to be in the area, .

In 1903, President Roosevelt put millions of acres of land aside, among them, the Oregon Caves area in the Siskiyou Mountain Range of Southern Oregon. Then, in 1909, President Taft proclaimed the 480 acres containing the cave system as a National Monument.

An engraved stone marker credits the man who first discovered this cave
An engraved stone marker credits the man who first discovered this cave | Source

Arriving at Oregon Caves

It was a road trip up the Redwood Highway with my two daughters, then ages 8 and 10, that inspired a side-trip to the Oregon Caves National Monument. I wanted to show them the wonders of the great trees as I had seen them in my own childhood. Many fond memories of camping trips with my family fueled my enthusiasm for this budget-friendly and eco-friendly means of travel. My father loved the trees, mountains and streams; he was an ecologist before the term was invented. But, this is about the cave. I've always been fascinated by caves and caving.

The AAA Guidebook described this destination as an interesting feature worth exploring. Since this was back in 1979, I cannot recall exactly where we spent the night, as there is no camping allowed within the boundaries of the national monument itself. I do know that we would not have stayed at "The Chateau at Oregon Caves" in nearby Cave Junction, OR. That would have been over-budget.

It was probably about 11:a.m. when we pulled in to the parking lot. Being mid-summer, it was quite warm outside. The parking lot was at the bottom of a fairly steep hill below the cave and gift shop...probably about a city block long. We walked up the hill, and purchased our tickets for the cave tour, and then walked around outside, browsed the gift shop, and so forth, waiting for our group's number to be called.

Cave tours begin at the visitor center. The gift shop is to the left, the cave entrance area to the right.
Cave tours begin at the visitor center. The gift shop is to the left, the cave entrance area to the right. | Source

Ready, Set, Tour!

As I said, it was quite warm outside, and my youngest was dressed in a t-shirt and shorts. Walking up the hill had almost made me wish for shorts instead of jeans and a sweatshirt. My eldest had a sweater and long pants, or maybe shorts--I don't really recall.

I had asked the little one on leaving the car, "Do you want to bring your sweatshirt?" "Nah, I'll be fine." was her answer. Always one to travel light, and to 'run hot,' I acceded to her wishes. There was no need for flashlights, as the Ranger tour guides carry them, and the cave is wired for lighting as well, So, I had with me only my "fanny pack" with essentials.

Our number was called: "Group # so-and-so, your tour begins in 10 minutes." At this point, we moved to the gathering point at the entrance. As you descend below the surface of the earth, the temperature drops, and keeps dropping the deeper you go.

On an average, temperatures inside caves range from about 44 degrees to about 55 degrees Fahrenheit. As we stood at the entrance, we could feel a chill breeze exiting the cave.

This difference in temperatures is exactly the same phenomenon that causes wind on a global scale. Since hot air rises, and cold air falls, the rising hot air will be replaced by the lower-lying cool air mass rushing in to replace the rising hot air. This is wind, and was the breeze we felt.

A Last-Minute "Emergency" Purchase

With barely 5 minutes left to our tour group's departure, the young one decided that yes, indeed, she was feeling chilly. Great! Too late to hike back to the car to fetch her sweatshirt. Nothing to do but rush into the gift shop and purchase a new sweatshirt for her. It was a very nice, heavy sweatshirt with hood, printed with the Oregon Caves logo.

It cost $24.00. That was a fairly inflated price for a sweatshirt back in 1979, but what could I do? I paid with travelers cheques, as I did not have enough cash. She put it on, and we hurried back out just in time to re-join our group just as the ranger was unlocking the entrance gate to the cave. Whew!

I was doing a bit of grumbling at my daughter, chiding her for refusing to take her sweatshirt from the car, etc, etc. I was overheard by another lady in the tour group, who had obviously been on the tour before. She spoke up and said, "You know, at the ranger's office, they rent jackets for 25 cents."

WHAT???!!! Well, why did no one say anything before?? Why did that lady not say something before? Naturally, the gift shop was happy to make a sale, and was not going to volunteer such information! But, why did the rangers not post a sign? I was very annoyed.


Well, the tour started, we followed the ranger through the approximately hour-and-a-half long hike, declining to escape at the proffered "chicken exit" about 15 minutes in...and we fully enjoyed the experience.

I've got an affinity for caves and caving, and wonder if some spelunker was not in my ancestry somewhere.

We successfully completed the tour, finished our camping trip heading back down the Redwood Highway (a.k.a. U.S. Hwy 101) toward home.

One of the Many Features Inside the Caves

The "soda straw" formation inside Oregon Caves, one of many features
The "soda straw" formation inside Oregon Caves, one of many features | Source

You'll Never Live It Down...

As for my dear, dear daughter, who now has children of her own, she'll never live this down, (as with her grandmother's 'forever' story of the pink paint). The Oregon Caves trip has come to be known as "The 25-cent rent-a-coat incident."

Oregon Caves and Cave Junction

Oregon Caves National Monument:
Oregon Caves National Monument, Cave Junction, OR 97523, USA

get directions

Oregon Caves

Cave Junction, Oregon:
Cave Junction, OR 97523, USA

get directions

The nearby town of Cave Junction

Grayback Campground:
8241 Oregon 46, Cave Junction, OR 97523, USA

get directions

Grayback Campground is about a 45 minute drive from Oregon Caves (due to low-speed-limit winding mountain roads)

The Chateau at Oregon Caves:
20000 Caves Highway, Cave Junction, OR 97523, USA

get directions

The Chateau at the Oregon Caves is a rustic lodge near the caves.

© 2010 Liz Elias


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)