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Fall Hiking at Oregon Caves National Monument

Friday, October 06, 2017

My friends Barbara, Don, H & I enjoyed a mini-vacation at Oregon Caves National Monument in Southern Oregon. It's about a 5 hour drive from our home in Central Oregon, and Don drove us in his big truck.

On route we stopped for a short hike at Rogue Gorge, where the Rogue River shoots through a chasm of lava rock.

Fall color along the Rogue River (where the chasm ends, and where we started our hike)

Views of the gorge

I love the fall color at the end of the gorge in the final view!

We stayed at the Oregon Caves Hotel, which is a historic national park hotel built with help of the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The hotel was designed by a Southern Oregon architect (Gust Liam), who also rescued it from being demolished after a landslide knocked the building off its foundations in 1963. This past week was the final week of the hotel's annual operating season, and we got a discounted rate. The hotel is old and rambling, it has a rustic charm but also has creaky pipes, loud radiators, and no internet/tv/cell reception. It is in the style of a Northwest chalet.

In this close-up you can see that the siding is cedar bark, which gives the building a very shaggy woodsy appearance.

It is built over a ravine with a creek, and part of the creek runs through as a small stream in the dining room. (The larger portion of the creek is sent through a culvert under the building). There is also a lovely little pond outside the cafeteria.

With my friends at the dining room (John and Ezra joined us; they are friends that live in Southern Oregon). I LOVED that the dining room offered petite portion dinners!

The trickling stream through the dining room

Pond outside the cafeteria

Of course we toured the caves! Tours are only offered with a guide; our guide offered lots of historical and geological information. (The original tours in the 1930s through the 1950s were very focused toward hokey tourism, including fake cavemen that would jump out from behind a rock). It is a beautiful limestone cave, carved by the River Styx (river was named during the hokey tourism era). The caves were discovered in 1874, when a hunter's dog chased a bear into the cave.

Entering the cave

Ezra by a limestone pillar (she is originally from Malaysia; Christians are a minority in Malaysia and she moved to Singapore for more opportunity; then to the US when she married her late husband. She was given the name Ezra as a child by the nuns at her boarding school)

Me -- the light from Don's flashlight is illuminating the reflective dots on my shoes & jacket.

Ranger Neil exiting the cave. The cave tour was fairly strenuous, over 500 stair steps, and lots of narrow low height passageways.

This blog is getting LONG so I will close with photos from the hikes we took around the national monument.

Cave creek

Trail between the limestone cliffs and alder trees

View toward the Illinois River valley, with big leaf maple tree in foreground

Valley view from the ridge top

Fall color big leaf maple leaves

On the hikes -- the terrain was quite steep, so I mostly did easier hikes. Four of my friends did two harder hikes; but H ran out of her oxygen in the portable tank on both of those hikes. I'm recovering and getting much better, but I am glad I just did the easier option hikes (I did two to 4 miles each day)

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    What fabulous pictures! Love the look of the lodge.
    1117 days ago
  • EISSA7
    Lovely, stunning, and take me on hikes that I will most likely never get to
    experience....thanks for sharing!! So glad that you are feeling better....
    1119 days ago
  • PATRICIAANN46 there any part of Oregon that isn't beautiful? Ken and I actually saw the Rogue River on our trip in 1990. Our trip was in July, so we didn't see any color...........I love Fall colors and can imagine how beautiful it is now. I also love the Oregon Caves Hotel. There is just something about the older hotels (even though they do creak and groan at times). You all look as if you are having a great time. I saw a commercial for an oxygen tank that is fairly small and lightweight but you don't have to worry about running out of oxygen because there is something in it that adds oxygen to the air. It might be something for H to check into. The caves look so beautiful but I am afraid that my claustrophobia might kick in.
    Thanks for sharing your trip with us.

    1120 days ago
    I am quite sure I will never get there, so thank you for sharing, loved all the pictures and words !!!
    1120 days ago
    Oh my gosh, so beautiful! I love hearing about your adventures.
    1120 days ago
    Just beautiful!! I can't believe how well your photos inside the cave turned out!
    1120 days ago
    Wow, what a beautiful, great adventure.
    1120 days ago
    You go to the coolest places! Awesome photos! Beautiful fall colors among the water shots! Caves look interesting! Glad you're feeling better! Thanks for posting! 👍❤
    1120 days ago
    Beautiful! Thank you for sharing!
    1120 days ago
    Gorgeous pics. Glad you are feeling better.
    1120 days ago
    Beautiful beautiful view
    1120 days ago
    That is so gorgeous I live in San Diego and I've actually been thinking about retiring in Oregon I did a road trip few months back all the way up towards Seattle and into Canada everything was so green so beautiful and so pretty
    1120 days ago
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