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Feature Story: Northwest Vacation: Oregon Caves National Monument

Northwest Vacation:

Oregon Caves National Monument By Afton Nelson

In 1874, Elijah J. Davidson Jr. was hunting in the Siskiyou Mountains of Southern Oregon when he heard the frantic barks of his dog, mixed with the angry growls of a bear. Davidson followed the barks and growls right up to a hill of what he thought was solid rock; somehow, the noise was coming from inside. That’s when he noticed a small opening. With only a hunting knife and a few matches, Davidson crawled through the hole to save his dog. The further into the cave he ventured, the further away the barks and growls became. Three hours later, Davidson eventually found his dog, safe and sound, waiting for him outside. But what he’d also found, was a breathtaking cave, full of other worldly marble formations, hundreds of


Photo of "Joaquin Miller's Chapel" by Shawn Thomas

Photo of Cave Entrance by Derek Marohn

thousands of years in the making: stalactites, stalagmites, columns and stunning drapery formations. Several years later, Poet of the Sierras, Joaquin Miller would call it, “The Wondrous Marble Halls of Oregon.” Today, a visit to Oregon Caves National Monument is just over five hours south of Vancouver, Washington; a bit of a drive, but well worth the trip. Knowledgeable rangers lead three different tours into the cool caverns which stay a constant 44°F regardless of the temperature outside. So be sure to bring a coat and some good walking shoes for your visit. General Tour A 90-minute General Tour covers the history and science of the cave and costs $8.50 for adults 17 years and older, and $6 for youth 16 and younger. Because the tour is moderately strenuous, children must be over 42 inches in height to enter the caves. Some of the passages are narrow and require stooping to avoid a bump to the head. Visitors on the General Tour will also need to climb stairs; the equivalent of a 20-story building. But since the tour is spread out over an hour and a half, the only time you might find yourself out of breath is when you stand in awe of the columns of Miller’s Chapel, or gasp at the beauty of the draperies in Paradise Lost. Off-Trail Adventure If you’re looking for a bit more of a challenge, sign up for the Off-Trail Adventure tour for $30 per person. Rangers will provide you with coveralls, which will keep most of the mud off, as you crawl on your hands and knees and wiggle through narrow passageways. The three-hour experience is

Vancouver Family Magazine • • July 2012

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VFM July 2012  
VFM July 2012  

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