Sunday, April 1, 2018

Oregon Caves National Monument & Preserve

Today, Easter Sunday, we left Talent, Oregon Rest Stop and headed up the road to our destination for this week - Springfield, Oregon.  We were able to listen to our church's General Conference on XM Radio and loved that!  About 30 minutes up the road from Talent, we stopped in Grant's Pass, Oregon and left the RV and Truck in the Wal-Mart parking lot and took the car to Cave Junction, Oregon  in the Illinois Valley to learn more about the Oregon Caves National Monument & Preserve.  The drive on UsS-199 was about 50 miles per hour - you can easily tow your RV.  Then once you come to Cave Junction, you'll turn left on Caves Highway.
About the 2-3 driveway on the right is the visitor's center - go slow so you don't miss it.  I'm glad I didn't have my 40' rig because even though I called, I MAY have been able to get into the back parking lot where they do have 3 pull-through spots but my rig was WAY too long to fit in any of those sites, so I'm glad we took the car.  The Visitor's Center was very nice with local artisan items to purchase in the gift shop.
Because we had the dogs, we didn't get the opportunity to physically go to the caves, but I'll tell you what we learned.  First of all, it's another 45 minutes drive up to the caves once you get to the Cave Junction Visitor's Center.  The road is exceptionally windy and many people have been known to lose their lunch...just an FYI.  Drive very slowly as the road narrows.  You CANNOT take a rig up to the caves, so be forewarned.  The visitor's center up at the cave is the Chalet and you can get tickets there or at the Visitor Center down in the valley.  There is also a Chateau up at Oregon Caves for lodging.  Go to the NPS website to reserve.
Photo: National Park Service
Next, these caved are a wet, vibrant cave of living marble with an active water stream inside and you can feel the air flowing throughout.  There are many rooms in the cave as you tour: Watson's Grotto, Petrified Garden, Connecting Tunnel, Dry Room, Imagination Room, Banana Grove, Niagara Falls, Spiral Stairs, Wind Tunnel, Miller's Chapel, the GHOST room and Paradise Lost, Clay Pocket and finally the exit tunnel.  This cave is filled with creatures like Springtail bugs, Crylloblattid, rock crawlers, Cave Cricket, Two Harvestmen Spider and, of course, Bats.
There are 3 tours of the caves.  Check the NPS website for details.
Discovery Cave Tour
Photo: National Park Service
Candelight Cave Tour
Photo: National Park Service
Off-Drilling Cave Tour
Photo: National Park Service
You'll want to dress warm - the cave is 40 degrees.  Wear sturdy non-slip footgear.  There are 500 stairs or steep grades, low rock ceilings and children must be 42-inches tall.  No food, gum, drink, canes, or flash allowed in the cave.  You also CANNOT touch or lean on the formations as the oils from your hands will change them color.  Also, don't wear the same pair of tennis shoes if you have been in another cave in the past 6 months due to bat guano issues.  The good news is that there IS fee camping from late May to Mid-September at the Grayback and Cave Creek campgrounds.  No hook ups or showers.  This park does have a Junior Ranger program and I know kids LOVE caves!
Now, go forth and explore!

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