Fort Rock Cave (Oregon): Insider Tips To Make The Best Of Your Trip

Fort Rock Cave is located approximately 70 miles southeast of Bend, Oregon in the desert.

It is of the historical significance of being the oldest discovered site of human habitation.

The presence of sandals made from bark and sagebrush plus homemade stone tools dates back about 9,000 years.

The Formation of Fort Rock Cave

Positioned 1/2 mile west of the National Natural Landmark of Fort Rock, the trip is worth the effort to participate in a cave tour filled with artifacts.

Stepping inside the 325-foot ring formed from a volcano and walking the interior path is also exhilarating.

In days past, the basin surrounding the cave held pristine water filled with consumable resources.

The entrance lies to the southeast, protecting it from summer heat and wind.

The water has dried up today, but the dry climate has helped to preserve artifacts of the era.

The lack of evidence in buildings and traces of activity has led scientists to believe that Fort Rock Cave served as a temporary living spot, perhaps to avoid frigid winters or to hunt for rabbits.

However, artifact hunters wiped out much of the salvageable evidence required to make a further judgment.

Today, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department protects the cave and surrounding area from looters and offers guided tours through the area.

40 miles north of Fort Rock is Paulina Lake where you can relax by camping and fishing.

Here is the evidence of dwellings that date back 9,500 years.

A Visitor’s Delight

Visiting the Fort Rock Cave can open your eyes to how the earth provided shelter and resources to humans many years ago.

The marvel of the landscape extends for miles.

Some recommended supplies to take with you include:

  • 2 sources of portable light, like a headlight and flashlight
  • Rubber-soled shoes or boots
  • Waist belt with a fanny pack for small items
  • Knee pads and gloves
  • Waterproof jacket

Guided tours are an awesome way to see and feel the wonders of life thousands of years ago.

The tour begins outside the cave and a shuttle bus is provided to get to the site.

Be prepared to walk on uneven terrain for 1/2 mile and bring plenty of water. The weather is hot in the summer and sunscreen is recommended.

The entire tour takes approximately 2 hours and openings fill up quickly so book yours early.

Nearby areas make Fort Rock a delightful way to spend tie in archeological research and understanding the various formations of the earth.

Take your adventure to neighboring caves to get a feel for the prehistoric days on earth.

Deschutes National Forest

The Deschutes National Forest is open year-round.

With over 1.6 million acres, obtaining a map of the trails, seasonal closures, and driving routes is a must.

Day passes are available at a small fee, or annual passes can be purchased if you are a frequent visitor.

There are over 350 caves within the Deschutes National Forest.

A few notable caves that are open for exploring include:

  • Skeleton Cave
  • Skylight Cave
  • Hidden Forest Cave
  • Lava River Cave
  • Arnold Ice Caves

There is no end to the recreational activities found within this massive forest.

Everything from camping, biking, and fishing to hiking and backpacking will provide unlimited outdoor fun for visitors.

Keep your camera ready for taking pictures from the highest point that is located on the Newberry Volcano, Paulina Peak.

Soaring at 7,984 feet high, the view is worth the 6-mile hike.

Paisley Caves

Approximately seventy miles south of Fort Rock Cave lies Paisley Caves.

Considered to be one of the oldest sites of human habitat on the North American continent, the timeline of items discovered dates back 14,000 years.

For anyone that is submerged in the study of coprolites, this area offers an amazing reflection of the type of humans that once walked the earth.

Eight caves make up the complex system of caves.

The Summer Lake Basin was once covered with water and the waves cut into the volcanic tuffs to form the sheltering caves for inhabitants.

Boyd Cave

Boyd Cave, near Bend, Oregon provides a fascinating way to experience a well-preserved cave.

Over 1,880 feet long, this tunnel was formed about 10,000 years ago from flowing lava made by the Newberry Volcano.

Because there was exposure to the air, the lava was able to move freely, making a lava tube some 20 feet underground.

First-time cave visitors have the chance to see and feel the atmosphere of cave life as it was for earlier inhabitants.

The temperature remains consistent at 42 degrees F.

Portable lights, such as flashlights and lanterns are recommended to witness the smooth walls that the dried lava has created.

A headlight is a perfect way to stay worry-free about losing light.

Some areas require crawling, and you want to be ready.

Pets are not allowed inside the cave for fear of disrupting the habitat of bats.

Redmond Caves

Redmond Caves are conveniently located south of the Redmond Airport.

The city of Redmond was developed around this site making multiple activities within walking distance.

For example, nearby Smith Rock State Park is often referred to as the Sport Climbing capital of the US.

Over 2,000 routes keep climbers busy with sports and boulder climbing.

An adventurous weekend get-a-way can be spent in the city of Redmond. Breweries, water parks, nature parks, and planned outdoor activities will give you a reason to make Redmond a regular place to visit.

Wrap Up

Fort Rock Cave can be a splendid way to begin your journey into the beginning of time.

Life was not simple and survival was the priority.

There are still traces of how humans, plants, and wildlife used nature to evolve into what we see today.

The adventures found in Fort Rock State Park are just the beginning of the 9,500-year-old preserved landscape within our country.

Gather as much information as possible before heading out for the weekend or longer in Oregon’s pristine natural areas.

Pay close attention to the rules and regulations that have been set forth by the state.

Although the formations have sustained years of abuse, the fragile state of existence is still present.

Check out our content about rockhounding Oregon for more information about unique and off the beaten path places to visit. You might also like articles about visiting:

fort rock cave