Oregon Caves, Cave Junction, OR

SPECIAL REPORT • The West's untapped treasures
Alan Phinney

A fascinating passageway into the underworld beckons in southwestern Oregon. Enter it and leave behind the mountaintop perfume of hot firs, plunging into the 41° cavern. On a 90-minute guided tour, explore its narrow tunnels, lofty chambers, and mineral formations, both glorious and ghoulish.

WHERE: Oregon Caves are at the end of State 46, 20 miles southeast of Cave Junction.

WHEN: Hiking trails open year-round. Ranger-led tours are offered on the hour, half hour, and quarter hour, depending on the season. During summer, avoid waits of up to two hours by arriving before 11 or after 5; call ahead for times of first and last tours.

COST: Tours $7.50.

SERVICES: Get area information at the visitor center on State 46. At press time, it was uncertain whether lodging and a cafe near the caves would be open; call for an update.

ACTIVITIES: Go on a cave tour, picnic, or explore the day-hiking trails. Call for availability of special candlelight tours, children's tours, and off-path cave tours.

FYI: Tour is not for claustrophobes or people unable to climb more than 500 stairs, some wet and steep. Children must be at least 42 inches tall. Dress warmly. RVs and trailers not advised on State 46.

CONTACT: (541) 592-2100 or www.nps.gov/orca.