Central Oregon is a land formed by lava. Those ancient flows have left behind a vast array of natural wonders. The best part is many of them are surprisingly easy to reach. One such location is the Redmond Caves.
The ancient lava tubes sit on the southern end of Redmond just off Airport Way. The caves are no more then two or three miles off the highway and are reachable by any sort of vehicle. The parking lot was small but it was easy to find and well marked. There is a map of the area near the parking and the terrain around the caves is flat and easy to walk on, if a bit dusty.
Each of the cave entrances sits in a small rock valley in the desert floor. They were extremely unassuming from the parking lot. If it wasn’t for the sign I might never have known they were there.
The cave nearest the parking lot is perhaps the longest. The roof was high enough for me to stand for most of it, but it did require me to walk in a crouch at times. Even with a backpack on I had very little difficulty moving around in the cave. The ground was soft desert sand and besides sections of larger rocks the cave floor was flat and easy to navigate.
The tunnels were surprisingly wide and all had some areas where the roof was over six feet tall. We walked back about fifty to sixty yards into the cave before the roof became too low for me to want to continue. I have heard since though that if your willing to crawl a bit the cave does go back farther.
The walls of the tunnel were carved into huge square and rectangular formations. I also noticed frequent lines and channels in the rock. There were frequent shelves of these rocks jutting down from the roof that we would have to crouch and move under.
There were huge drops of condensation that collected on many parts of the cave roof. They would glisten and twinkle in the rays of our headlamps as we walked. Most just seemed to sit there, but there were certain places where they would frequently drip.
The second cave we came to was perhaps the most fun, if only for the fact that it’s a true tunnel. It was perhaps forty to fifty yards long and equally as wide as the first. The entrances were smaller and a bit harder to get through though. I had to crawl at one point near the exit.
Though the tunnel is straight, when standing one can not see the other end. Two ridges of rock that hang down block your view. When standing in the middle of the cave you actually can’t see either entrance. It is only when crouched that both of them come into view. It was a cool effect.
Thanks in part to the fact that the caves are all so close to the parking lot, one can see them all in a rather short period of time. All in all we were at the park for no more then an hour and the large majority of that time was spent in the first two caves. If you r are just looking for a short trip, this is a perfect spot.
Whether you live in the area or are just visiting, the Redmond Caves are a wonderful place to invest an hour of your time. Bring the family and some flashlights and enjoy this unique feature of Deschutes County.