After too many years barely surviving financially in the buy and sell flea market business, and really missing being a seasonal Park Ranger, I secured a position with the National Park Service at Oregon Caves National Monument as a cave tour guide.
Carson in RV space at Oregon Caves National Monument
I arrived on a Thursday in March and parked my RV at an assigned site two miles away from the visitor center and cave entrance. It snowed all weekend and I didn’t see a soul. Monday, and for the next two weeks, I mostly walked to training. Then I bought a cheap car.
Me in the visitor center
Sometimes I worked in the visitor center selling cave tour tickets, books and postcards. Every person going on the 90 minute cave tour must be able to walk a paved half-mile at 4,000 feet, climb 527 steps mostly up, twist, turn, stoop to 4 feet in one place, and kids must be 42 inches tall. Plus the cave temperature is 43F degrees.
Most of the time, I lead tours of no more than 16 visitors through this maze of marble cave, up to three times a day. I wove together a story about the natural and cultural history of the cave along the way. It’s a very personal cave, narrow, walls close enough to touch, which is the number one thing not to do. If you want to see more of the cave and can’t visit it yourself (closed in winter) click here for a cave tour
Travertine flowstone in Petrified Gardens
After the tour it’s like a step back in time visiting the historic lodge. Called the Chateau
, it was completed in 1934 and you can still sit in the old fashioned soda shop and enjoy one of the best milk shakes ever.
Historic Oregon Caves Chateau
Oregon Caves National Monument is located in southwestern Oregon between Crater Lake
National Parks just 20 curvy miles off the Redwood Highway. I visited both, however this was the summer of many fires and Crater Lake wasn’t visible for photos.
The Smoke from the Biscuit Fire actually came into the cave’s upper blasted entrance tunnel but not past the door. I went camping on the coast with another guide and returned driving thru the fire along the Smith River. My body hair stood up as we drove past trees candling next to the narrow shoulder. Unfortunately, no photos.
Carson in Panther Creek campground Six Rivers National Forest, Oregon ( and the cheap car)
I really enjoyed being a Park Guide at Oregon Caves. Such a fulfilling experience to learn and share an intimate experience in our underground world. But my season only lasted six months so I gave away the car to another guide and continued my gypsy life.
If you want to see the world of others or share your own click here.