Hidden Forest Cave

Useful Information

Location: Near Bend. From Bend follow U.S. Highway 97 (Dalles California Hwy) south for 6 km, then turn left into China Hat Road. After 14 km at the right side.
Open: NOV to 15-APR closed for bat hibernation.
16-APR to OCT no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: Speleologylava tube
Light: bring torch
Guided tours:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.



The Hidden Forest Cave is a lava tube with an impressive entrance. The roof collapsed and there is now a huge hole in the ground with steep walls. On one side a trail goes down, on the other side is the cave entrance. From the rim the Ponderosa trees growing on the floor of the hole can be seen from above, so the collapse is rather deep.

This place has always been used intensively. It has been used by the native Red Indians, and they consider it a sacred place until today. Some years ago the protection of the cave was much less stringent than today. Climbers used the walls and ceiling for climbing, visitors brought their dogs, people were partying inside the cave and it seems they even made fres in the entrance. It is said Uma Thurman partied in this cave for her 1993 movie Even the Cowgirls get the Blues.

Later cave paintings have been found and the climbers banned from the cave. The Archaeological Resources Protection Act prohibits digging, removing artifacts, damage and defacement of archaeological resources. It is not allowed any more to enter with fire, to party, or to bring animals like dogs into the cave. But legal protection is not a gate, and the huge entrance is impossible to gate. So in 2011 the cave was heavily vandalized, graffitis and tags all over the walls and the cave littered. Trees were coloured, cut off and burned inside the cave. The National Park authorities and the local cavers united in the search for the vandals, a fund was raised for an reward to find them. In June five suspects were arrested, who face misdemeanor or felony charges under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, probably up to ten years in jail and up to USD 100,000 in fines. However, restauration will probably cost much more.