Derrick Cave (Oregon): 8 Insider Tips To Make The Best Of Your Trip

Derrick Cave is located within the Devil’s Garden volcanic field, on its western edge, in Lake County, Oregon.

The cave is a lava tube that is thousands of years old and well worth the trip to see and is not far from a number of different campgrounds.

Here are eight tips for a successful trip to Derrick Cave, Oregon.

Derrick Cave (Oregon): 8 Insider Tips

Get to know the area before you go.

Derrick cave is a remote destination located within the Devil’s Garden north east of Fort Rock and should be treated with the proper caution regarding wildlife, remote backpacking etc.

Have a plan in place, let others know where you will be and make sure you bring the supplies and equipment you will need for hiking.

The road to the cave can be rough and four-wheel drive is recommended.

There is a dirt parking lot near the cave, but there are no other amenities or facilities.

Warm clothing is recommended as the cave can be quite cool inside.

There is a wide range of wildlife in the area as it is surrounded by pine forest and mountains.

Derrick Cave is managed by the BLM and all rules regarding visiting any BLM location should be followed accordingly.

Pick a campground that works for you.

Due to its remote location, you will want to plan on camping ahead of time and choose the one that works for you depending on where you are travelling from.

The closest campsite to the cave itself is the Green Mountain Campground on the south-eastern side of the Devil’s Garden volcanic field, north of Christmas Valley.

While it used to be possible to camp right in the cave, this is no longer allowed.

Bring plenty of supplies for your trip.

This is a remote location that does not have any food or water services.

There is a parking lot nearby, so you can pack a cooler in your vehicle with the food and water you may need for a day trip.

Help keep the site clean for everyone else visiting and so as not to attract wildlife by taking out any garbage you bring in.

The cave is quite dark in many parts as well, so be sure to bring reliable battery-operated flashlights.

Pack hiking gear.

Derrick Cave is a lava tube almost a quarter mile long that was created during a period of volcanic activity in the area thousands of years ago.

It is part of (and thought to be the main flow that fed the formation of) the Devil’s Garden, a series of volcanic formations that spans across forty plus square miles.

The cave is dark and cool, with uneven ground in many places, and it is recommended that those who are not used to extended periods of hiking or require aid when hiking, such as hiking poles etc.

Plan ahead for the longer trek into the cave if you are going to be exploring the entirety of Derrick Cave.

Do some star gazing.

After a day full of hiking around Derrick Cave and exploring the lava field area around it, take advantage of the remoteness of the campsite to do some star gazing as there is little light pollution to obstruct the view of the night sky.

Birdwatching and nature watching.

There is a wide variety of animals and birds around the Devil’s Garden that you may want to try and spot or get pictures of.

It goes without saying that you should, of course, avoid any dangerous animals and keep your distance if they are spotted.

Always adhere to proper food storage when camping as well.

Some of the birds you can see in the area include red-tailed hawks, eagles, meadowlarks, grouse, bluebirds, owls, turkey vultures, and sparrows.

Some of the animals you can spot in the area include badgers, deer, bobcats, black bears, pronghorns, porcupines, coyotes and cougars. 

Beware of bats.

Yes, there could be bats in the cave. Derrick Cave has a population of Townsend’s Big Eared Bats that are known to live and hibernate in parts of the cave.

Bats are nocturnal, so they aren’t usually active during the day and should not be disturbed if spotted.

The bats tend to hibernate from October to April and it is especially vital that they not be disturbed during this time as the disruption during their hibernation period can cause them to expend too much energy, which can kill them.

Learn a bit of history.

This lava tube formed thousands of years ago south of the main vent for the entire Devil’s Garden lava field and delivered the majority of the lava from the vent to the fields that spread out all over the field area south of the vent.

Derrick Cave was named after a pioneering rancher that settled in the Devil’s Garden region named H. E. Derrick and during the 1960’s, Derrick Cave was designated as a nuclear fallout shelter and was stocked with all kinds of food, water and other supplies appropriate for a fallout shelter.

Wrap Up

In closing, Derrick Cave and the surrounding Devil’s Garden lava field is a fantastic geologic wonder to explore and the surrounding area has a number of campgrounds to make the trip more comfortable, as there really is too much to see and do for a simple day trip.

There’s a resident population of Townsend’s Big Eared Bats, and a lot of local wildlife to be aware of.

The site has parking but no facilities and camping or campfires are not allowed on the site. If you wish to use a campfire for cooking etc. check out one of the nearby campsites.

Inside the lava tube is much cooler than outside despite the numerous natural skylight openings throughout, and many parts are dark enough that you should have a flashlight handy.

Hopefully, this information is of help to you and is an aid in planning a successful trip to check out one of the more stunning natural wonders in Oregon.

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