Cliff Nature Trail Oregon Caves

When you exit the Exit Tunnel at Oregon Caves National Monument, you have two choices on how to return to the visitor center. The most common way is to take the 0.3 mile paved trail down the mountain back to the visitors center. The other option, which I would recommend, is to take 0.7 mile trail that goes above the cave called the Cliff Nature Trail. The Cliff Nature Trail leads you into him off the wonderland:

Moss covered tree at Oregon Caves National Monument

Moss covered rocks at Oregon Caves National Monument

Eventually you will emerge from the moss covered trees and hit a ridge which will give you a stunning view of the surrounding mountains and Illinois Valley:

The view at the top of Cliff Nature Train at Oregon Caves National Monument

Although the Cliff Nature Trail is more strenuous than taking the paved path back to the visitors center, you should have no problem with it if you made it through the Oregon Caves and you won’t be disappointed with the scenery and views you get to see.

Exit Tunnel Oregon Caves

The last part of the Oregon Caves National Monument tour is up a long corridor called the exit tunnel. This is a man made tunnel that is fairly long and doesn’t have much in cave formations to look at:

The exit tunnel for Oregon Caves National Monument

This doesn’t mean that this part of the cave lacks interest. This is where you may get a chance to see the small bat population which hibernates in Oregon Caves over the winter. Although most bats at Oregon Caves roost under the bark of old-growth trees in the summer, some bats enter the cave during very cold periods. This is probably because their usual roosts under the bark on dead old-growth trees don’t provide enough insulation. There are also a few individual bats which hibernate in Oregon Caves during the winter. I was able to see one of these hibernating bats (although I did not get a photo since I didn’t want to disturb him). The most commonly seen bats at Oregon Caves are Townsend big-eared bats (especially in winter), Yuma bats, and long-eared myotis bats.

Once you exit the cave, you find yourself in a moss covered wonderland above where you entered the cave:

Exit view from Oregon Caves National Monument

It is then a 0.3 mile hike along a paved path back to the visitors center.