Oregon Caves: Underground Adventures in Oregon

Oregon Caves: Underground Adventures in Oregon

Oregon Caves: Underground Adventures in Oregon

22 Sep 2022

Whether you are planning a getaway to the coast or the high desert, there is beauty in abundance throughout the scenic state of Oregon. Oregon caves are abound all over the state!

Enjoy the adventure of discovering the unique beauty of Oregon while exploring these caves: 

Sea Lion Caves 

The first on our list of Oregon caves is the Sea Lion Caves in Florence. Kids of all ages will love seeing the Sea Lions lounge about along the shoreline! The Sea Lion Caves is America’s largest sea cave as well as a privately owned wildlife preserve and bird sanctuary. During the winter, visitors can see hundreds of sea lions in the cave, and in the spring and summer months, the sea lions can be seen napping, and basking in the sun on the rocky ledges outside of the cave.  

The caves are open to the public 363 days of the year, from 9am to 5pm (weather permitting). Reservations are not required to go on their self-guided tour, and tickets can be purchased in the gift shop.  


Adults – $16.00 each 

Seniors – $15.00 each 

Children 5 to 12 – $10.00 each 

Children 4 and under – free 

Explore the Skylight Cave 

The next on our list of Oregon caves is the Skylight Cave. The Skylight Cave in Sisters is a fun and easy cave adventure the whole family can enjoy! According to forest officials, the cave is actually a lava tube that formed during the eruption of neighboring Sixmile Butte. When the lava cooled, thin portions of the ceiling fell, producing three natural skylights.  

The cave is only open from May to September to protect the endangered bat population that hibernates inside. In order to see the beams in their full glory, it is recommended to visit in the morning between 8:00 am – 11 am. If you go later, you can still catch one or two beams, but the position of the sun doesn’t allow the light to fully shine through each of the three skylight holes after 11 am. Do keep in mind that on overcast days, the beams will not be visible, so try to plan your visit on a day with clear skies for direct sunlight. 

To enter the cave, visitors will descend down a small, sturdy metal ladder. If you head left, you will find the skylights after about 300 feet. If you turn right, there is about 900 feet of cave to explore, but ultimately it dead ends. 

The cave temperature is 40 degrees in the summer, so warm clothing is recommended. Wear good walking or hiking shoes, as the trail surface can be uneven and slippery. Bring a light source, and make sure to thoroughly clean off your shoes if you’re going to other caves on the same day. White-nose syndrome – a fungus that’s potentially spread by humans carrying it in from other caves, can be fatal to bats. 

Devil’s Punchbowl 

Next up on our list of Oregon caves is the Devil’s Punchbowl. Once a sea cave, the pounding persistent waves of the mighty Pacific Ocean caused the roof to collapse, forming one of Oregon’s most well-known, natural attractions. 

Situated between Newport and Depoe Bay, the location is easy to reach from Highway 101. Turn onto Otter Crest Loop, and follow the sign for the punch bowl. There is a large parking lot, which also includes a public bathroom. 

The Devils Punchbowl Trail is one of the best ways to reach the rock formation and is a short and easy 0.8-mile out and back route. This upper trail will take you from the parking lot to the viewing area where you can marvel at this natural phenomenon. You can also venture directly into the punchbowl at low tide, but conditions can change quickly, and we recommend taking extreme precautions.  

Boyd Cave 

Boyd Cave is the next cave on our list of Oregon caves. It is a roughly 1,880-foot-long lava tube cave estimated to have been formed about 10,000 years ago. It’s located about 12 miles from Bend, and is one of the largest and best-preserved caves in the region boasting dynamic basalt and pahoehoe formation. Bring a flashlight and wear layers, as temperatures drop dramatically inside the cave. 

Arnold Ice Cave

Arnold Ice Cave Near Bend Oregon

If you’re feeling brave and ready to explore, take a trip just 12 miles southeast of Bend to the extraordinary Arnold Ice Cave. You’ll find yourself deep in Central Oregon’s wilderness off China Hat Road surrounded by sagebrush, juniper trees, and ponderosa pines guarding an incredible volcanic underworld that was crafted about 80 thousand years ago thanks to a basalt lava flow.

The awe-inspiring caverns nestled within the northern summit of Newberry Volcano are known to harbor ancient Native American artifacts that have been dated all the way back to 1370 A.D. Once referred to as “Crook County Ice Caves,” Ronald Greeley, an explorer for Oregon’s Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, christened them with their current moniker following extensive examination of these lava tubes’ remarkable features. Mirroring the nearby and well-traveled Lava River Cave (5,466 feet long), these lava tubes were formed when the top layer of a molten flow came into contact with air. As this outer crust cooled down from temperatures as high as 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit to solidify, hotter liquid lava underneath continued steadily flowing like a river beneath it. When all the magma eventually drained away through time what remained was an empty tube in place.

Oregon Caves National Monument 

Oregon Caves National Monument

Our last cave on our list of Oregon caves is the Oregon Caves National Monument. Come discover and explore a labyrinth of marble passageways deep within the Siskiyou Mountains with a ranger guide. The tour lasts 90 minutes and is limited to 12 people. 

Currently tours are available 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, Thursday through Monday until Sunday, November 6, 2022 

Same day tickets: First come, first served tickets are available at park visitor centers. It is strongly recommended to stop at the Illinois Valley Visitor Center first in Cave Junction to learn current conditions and to buy tickets. Visit www.Recreation.gov for reservations. 

Children must be at least 42 in. (107 cm) tall or taller to take the tour. 


Adults, ages 16 and over – $10.00 
Youth, ages 15 and under – $7.00 

Interagency Senior Pass Cardholders ages 62 and over – $5.00 

Interagency Access Pass Cardholders ages 16 and over – $5.00 
Youth Interagency Access Pass Cardholders ages 15 and under – $3.50 

Physical Considerations:

This tour is physically demanding. It requires the ability to walk and stoop through narrow, twisting passages, including an 88-foot (27m) passageway with ceilings as low as 45 inches (114 cm), and the ability to ascend and descend over 500 steps, many of them steep, uneven and/or without handrails. 

The cave temperature is a constant 41 degrees F (5 degrees C), so warm clothing is recommended. Wear good walking or hiking shoes, as the trail surface can be uneven and slippery. No flashlights are allowed on the tours.  

Content to Stay Out in the Open, on the Surface?

That’s not a problem. You can enjoy the beautiful, Oregon scenery!

Book a Stay with Us! 

Ready to explore the cavernous beauty of Oregon? Oregon Meredith Lodging has an amazing collection of vacation rentals throughout the Oregon Coast and Central Oregon from cozy cabins, to oceanfront estates, luxurious mountain chalets to family-friendly (and budget-friendly!) homes. We also have a large selection of pet-friendly homes, too! We look forward to your next great #staywithmeredith