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.
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)