Oregon is a state that is filled with lots to see. Some of those must-see attractions are man made, but most are natural scenic areas. From the lush western part of the state, through the thickly forested Cascade Mountains, to the arid eastern region, there are simply too many scenic areas worth visiting to list here.
Caves are a kind of natural attraction that have been luring visitors to them for centuries. Oregon has a number of examples of interesting caves worth visiting too. Here are five great ones that shouldn’t be missed.
Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve
Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve is located 20 miles east of Cave Junction in the southwestern part of the state. This incredible site features a large marble cave and visitor center. The cave was discovered in 1874 and over the next 6 decades a number of attempts were made to turn it into a tourist attraction. Many buildings are left there, including the Oregon Caves Chateau, are are listed as the Oregon Caves Historic District, a National Historic Landmark. At 4,000 feet in elevation, it is not uncommon to see icicles forming at the mouth of the cave. Touring the cave is possible, but visitors should dress warmly as it normally stays at a temperature of 44 degrees Fahrenheit inside. The network of tunnels and rooms is amazing and seeing them in person will be incredibly memorable.
Lava River Cave
Lava River Cave is located near the city of Bend and is part of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. This is one of the best examples of a lava tube that is available to the public to explore. The cave is 5,211 feet long and part of it is officially the longest continuous lava tube in the state. It was discovered in 1889 by pioneers but scientists agree that it was most likely known previously to Native Americans who lived in the area. From the entrance, the cave runs in two directions. The section that runs to the northwest from the opening is the one open for exploration and actually travels beneath the nearby Highway 97. After descending the steps into the cave, visitors will immediately find themselves in echo chamber. This is a real hit with children as it really does live up to its name. How far a vacationer wants to explore is up to them but Lava River Cave is open all the way to the end. Exploring this incredible site is one of the most incredible caves in the United States.
Sea Lion Caves
Located on the Oregon Coast, near the community of Florence is a very well known tourist attraction known as Sea Lion Caves. The cave opens up on the Pacific Ocean and the opening is completely flooded at high tide. Visitors can access the cave through a gift shop located at the top. With admission, travelers can descend into the cave to the viewing areas by elevator and observe the sea lions that live there. This really is a completely unique attraction that appeals to kids and adults, as well as anyone with a love for the ocean, caves, or wildlife.
Located in Lake County, Derrick Cave is a very popular attraction to visit for anyone traveling to Oregon. This is a lava tube cave that measures just over 1,200 feet in length. The cave was named after a pioneer rancher who lived nearby. The cave is accessible all year long and open to the public The cave was planned to be used as an air raid shelter by area residents during the earliest days of World War II. There are a number of natural skylights in the lava tube where small sections of the cave have fell in. The cave route is listed as moderate for hikers, and kids and adults can both have a great time there. Derrick Cave is an excellent tourist attraction that anyone would have had a great time visiting.
Skeleton Cave is located in Deschutes County, near Bend and on the northern flank of the Newberry Volcano. This is a small cave that was discovered in 1924, though there is evidence that it may have been visited in the three decades prior to that. It received its name due to a large number of bones found inside it, mostly of animals who most likely fell through hidden openings in the ceiling. The cave measures at over 3,000 feet in length and has a parking lot and other facilities available. This is one of the lesser developed caves in the area but can still be a lot of fun to the cave exploration enthusiast.