Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve can be found within the Siskiyou Mountains in southwestern Oregon. At an elevation of about 4000 feet, visitors will be led to the park by a steep and winding road. Once at the park, stop in at one of the visitor centers for park and cave tour information. Cave tours run from March to November, but the surface areas of the park remain open year-round.
During your visit to the monument and preserve, take time to enjoy the many activities it has to offer. In the caves, take a guided tour through the dark, narrow passages to see the marble formations. Outside the caves, take one of the several hiking trails through the forest of fir trees to gorgeous overlooks and mountain views. While out on the trails, keep an eye out for the many different types of wildlife that reside in the park from frogs to owls to deer.
For visitors looking to stay overnight, Cave Creek Campground has 17 first-come, first-served campsites. The campground can accommodate those with RVs and trailers up to 20 feet. The campground is open only through the peak season, running from Memorial Day to late September. Pets are permitted within the preserve and campground, but are not allowed on the trails or in the caves.
When driving to the national monument and preserve, GPS units should not be trusted. They may lead you astray down confusing routes. Instead, use a map or follow the directions from the monument’s website.
The last ten miles on OR-46 East are steep, winding, and hazardous. It is not recommended to bring travel trailers or RVs beyond mile-post 12 due to the tight, winding curves and blind corners. RVs or trailers over 46 feet are not permitted. Along the drive, watch out for wildlife that may be near the roadside.
Parking for RVs and travel trailers is free at the Illinois Valley Visitor Center. It is advised to stop here on the way to the monument for information on tour wait times before making the remaining 45-minute drive to the monument. Cave Creek Campground can accommodate rigs up to 20 feet. If you're planning to camp, it is advisable to leave your trailer or RV at your campsite while visiting the monument.
Cave Creek Campground is located within the national monument and preserve. The campground has 17 campsites that are available on a first-come, first served basis. Cave Creek is open from Memorial Day to late September.
RVs and travel trailers up to 20 feet can be accommodated. There are no hookups at any of the campsites, so come prepared with extra supplies for dry camping. Generators can be used, except during the posted quiet hours.
The campground is within an old growth forest which provides shade, shelter, and privacy. Each campsite has a picnic table and fire ring. Water spigots and vault toilets are scattered throughout the campground. Ensure that food and trash are securely stored to keep from attracting bears and other wildlife.
Explore the caves on one of the four different cave tours offered at the monument. Head down the winding and tight cave passages to explore the formations and marble rock. The tours offered range from kid-friendly to the strenuous and demanding Off-Trail Caving Tour.
The tours run from March to November. It is encouraged to make reservations in advance because the tours fill up quickly, especially during the peak season. Due to the tight spaces and low ceilings of each cave route, visitors will need to demonstrate their physical ability during the tour introduction.
There are six hiking trails within the national monument and preserve. These trails vary in length and skill level. The shortest trail is the 0.7 mile Cliff Nature Trail which takes visitors through a forest of fir trees and marble outcrops and provides beautiful views of the Illinois Valley. The longest trail is the 9.2 mile Bigelow Lakes - Mt. Elijah Loop Trail. This trail is challenging with a 2,390 foot elevation gain. If hiking on a clear day, hikers will be rewarded with views of Mt. Shasta and Preston Peak.
Oregon Caves National Preserve allows hunting within the boundary of the preserve only. Hunting is not permitted within the national monument area. Many visitors aren’t aware that hunting is allowed at the preserve.
If you're planning to hunt, be aware of your surroundings at all times. Whether you’re hunting deer or bears, ensure you’re familiar with the hunting regulations in the area and pick up any necessary permits.
Many different types of wildlife are known to Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve. If you encounter any of the area's wildlife during your visit, be sure to keep a safe distance. Black-tailed deer are often seen along the trails and within the campground. Amphibians such as frogs and salamanders live in the park and may be found near bodies of water within the preserve. Bobcats, cougars, and black bears are common to the preserve and surrounding area though they generally shy away from humans.
There are many species of birds that are known to the monument and preserve. While hiking the trails or relaxing at the campground, you’re likely to see several different birds. You may spot a Steller’s Jay perched on a tree branch. At night, you may hear the hoots of a Northern Spotted Owl. Other types of birds known to the park include raven and sooty grouse.
Upon arrival at the monument be sure to stop in at one of the visitor centers. The Oregon Caves Visitor Center has exhibits on display about the caves and Siskiyou Mountains. Visitor information and cave tour tickets can be obtained here also. Outside the Oregon Caves Visitor Center is the trail junction for two of the six hiking trails.
At the Illinois Valley Visitor Center, visitors can purchase cave tour tickets and find information about the tours and monument. It is advised to stop in at Illinois Valley during the peak season to learn about tour crowds and wait times before driving the additional 45 minutes to the monument.