Cave Access

Deschutes County is by far the most cave-rich county in the state of Oregon, but not all of those caves are recommended to the casual visitor. Some involve strenuous hikes, proper gear and equipment, or a tenacity for pushing claustrophobic and tight passages.

Our Grotto is an affiliate with the National Speleological Society, and we demonstrate safe caving practices. Typically we bring three sources of light per person, wear a helmet to protect our heads, and we don't go caving alone. We also avoid caves during the winter that have hibernating bats. Although, bat maternity colonies do exist in Central Oregon and we avoid those during the summer months.

Here is a closure schedule for caves with bats:
Hibernation Closures - November 1st to April 15th. Cave entry ceases November 1st and resumes April 15th.
Maternity Closures - April 16th to September 30th. Cave entry ceases April 16th and resumes September 30th.

For the casual visitor to the caves of Central Oregon, we recommend a few. Please note the bat closures for these caves, and avoid them at those times.

 

  • Lava River Cave - Located 12.5 miles south of Bend. Lava River Cave is the longest lava tube in Oregon and a great cave for those new to the caves of Central Oregon. Bring warm clothing! Please visit their Official Website for times of access.

 

China Hat Road Caves - Located off China Hat road southeast of Bend.

  • Boyd Cave is open year round.
  • Skeleton Cave is closed year round, though a private commercial tour is available May 1st to September 30th.
  • Hidden Forest Cave is closed to climbing and bouldering, though year round access is permitted through the cave.
  • Charcoal Cave no. 1 is currently closed year round.
  • Arnold Ice Cave is open year round.
  • Wind Cave is closed in an attempt to restore the bat population. The closure may be lifted in the future dependent on the results of further study.
  • Deg Cave is closed year round.
  • Charlie-the-Cave is closed in an attempt to restore the bat population. The closure may be lifted in the future dependent on the results of further study.
  • Pictograph Cave is closed during bat hibernation periods between October 1st and April 30th.
  • Charcoal Cave no. 2 is on private property and access is restricted.
  • Stookey Ranch Cave is on private property and gated. Access is restricted.

 

Miscellaneous Cave schedules:

  • Redmond Caves - Located in southeast Redmond. The park holds 5 caves: Lions Cave, Redmond Cave, Cave Next Door, Insignificant Redmond Cave, and No Account Redmond Cave. The caves currently have no closure for bats.
  • South Ice Cave - Located east of La Pine. It is recommend to avoid bat hibernation periods between October 1st and April 30th for the two South Ice caves.
  • Skylight Cave - Located west of Sisters. This cave is closed during bat hibernation periods between October 1st to April 30th.
  • Lavacicle Cave - Closed year round and gated.
  • Horse Cave - Horse Cave is located on private property near Bend. Permission from the owner is required to visit.
  • Section 11 Caves - These 8 caves (Davenport, Garbage no. 1, Garbage no. 2, Three Pines, Vulture, Stevens, Williams', and Braille) are under an emergency closure between 10pm and 5am daily.
  • Malheur Cave - Closed and privately owned. Permission from owner is required to visit.

 

For more information, visit the Forest Service's Public Cave Access information page.

The Oregon High Desert Grotto is an internal organization of the National Speleological Society. We are dedicated to the study and preservation of caves.

 

Membership in the Grotto is $15 a year and comes with an invitation to the Yahoo! Groups forum, access to the Grotto library, issues of the Oregon Underground newsletter, and information on yearly caving activities and trips.

 

 

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