Oregon has no lack of natural wonders. It’s got some of the country’s coolest beaches, mountains, and approximately one million waterfalls. But, if you’re looking for a hike that’s off-the-beaten-path, then you won’t do any better than Skylight Cave near Sisters.
Skylight Cave’s explosive past
Skylight Cave is actually a lava tube. Lava tubes form when the top of a lava flow hardens, then the rest of the lava dries up or the flow stops. Explorers enter Skylight Cave via a ladder through a collapse in the cave’s ceiling. The cave got its name from a room with an impressive 25-foot ceiling with three holes in it. Sunlight streams in through the holes, creating a mesmerizing effect. Get the best view of the skylights on sunny days between 8 and 10 AM. For added effect, toss some dirt into the air to highlight the beams.
Tips for exploring
The Deschutes National Forest’s Sister Country Trail Guide has some great directions and tips for getting there and getting around.
Visitors to the Skylight Cave should dress warm (cave temp 40 degrees), bring at least two reliable lights and exercise caution while exploring the cave as the lava surface is quite rough and could cause cuts abrasions. It is also recommended that you tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.
Cell service near the cave is spotty, and you’ll need a car with 4WD for the gravel road leading to it. The cave is only open during the summer; bats inhabit the cave in the fall. Bring a helmet and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty as well. If you’re claustrophobic, be warned; parts of Skylight Cave are very tight.
A land of natural wonders
Skylight Cave is hardly the only attraction worth visiting in the area. It’s a mere 60 miles from the stunningly blue Tamolitch Pool, and only 37 miles from the legendary Smith Rock. Koosah Falls, Proxy Falls, and Terwilliger Hot Springs are in the immediate area as well. Basically, it’s in the heart of an outdoorsman’s paradise.