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Oregon Caves offering ranger walks and talks

Ranger-led nature hikes and outreach presentations are being offered at Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve through Aug. 2. Cave tours, however, remain closed.

At all programs, park staff emphasize that “appropriate social distancing, in adherence to the latest novel coronavirus health guidance, will be observed at all events. Please bring a mask to all events. Events are subject to change due to current health guidance,” according to a press release.

This weekend will feature a Saturday geology and wildflower exploration of the Bigelow meadows and peak of Mount Elijah, “forest bathing” hikes on the Cliff Nature Trail, and a Cliff Nature Trail botany hike. Set for Thursday, July 16, is a presentation in Grants Pass about the wonderfully complex geology of the region.

More activities being offered through Aug. 2 are listed in the attached schedule, including a program in Grants Pass about the Oregon Caves Chateau’s one-of-a-kind Monterrey furniture, and another about caves of the world.

“We are partnering with the Siskiyou Field Institute in Selma to provide ethnobotanical and geology presentations announced soon,” said George Herring, Oregon Caves’ chief naturalist. “The first Saturday in August, rangers will lead a roadside geology discovery trip from Grants Pass to Hiouchi. Rangers offer daily 20-minute cave talks and nature walks between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., generally on demand. There are many fun activities available.”

A list of events is available at the park website, www.nps.gov/orca, or by visiting the park’s Facebook page. For information, call 541-592-4076 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Herring said Oregon Caves events will implement the latest guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and local and state authorities to promote social distancing during all programs. Due to COVID-19 precautions, the park is not offering cave tours until further notice.

All surface areas of the park remain open for hiking and other uses. The Oregon Caves Visitor Center and the Illinois Valley Visitor Center are open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. “Bring lots of questions,” says Herring.

He also emphasizes that “health and safety” is the number one priority at the monument.

Herring said he and the NPS urge visitors to “do their part when visiting a park and to follow CDC guidance to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.”

Updates about NPS operations will be posted at www.nps.gov/coronavirus. Check with individual parks for specific details about park operations.

Bigelow_Meadows in the Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve are awash with wildflowers. Photo by Lee Juillerat