SPECIAL REPORT • The West's untapped treasures

Alan Phinney

A fascinating passageway into the underworld beckons insouthwestern Oregon. Enter it and leave behind the mountaintopperfume of hot firs, plunging into the 41° cavern. On a90-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 milessoutheast of Cave Junction.

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

COST: Tours $7.50.

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

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

FYI: Tour is not for claustrophobes or people unable toclimb more than 500 stairs, some wet and steep. Children must be atleast 42 inches tall. Dress warmly. RVs and trailers not advised onState 46.

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

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