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Oregon Caves

Getting there: The park is located on Highway 46, about 20 miles east of Cave Junction.

Being there: The park is open all year, no admission charge. Try to get to the cave area early to avoid crowds, parking problems and long lines for the tours. There is parking for large RVs at the visitors center in Cave Junction; shuttle service is available for lodge guests.

Staying there: Lodge rates are $90 during the summer (through Sept. 24), $75 from Sept. 25 to Oct. 22 (when the lodge closes). In the fall, only B&B service is available; limited food service is available at the lodge coffee shop. Information and reservations: (541) 592-3400, www.oregoncaves.com.

Cave tours: Through Sept. 4, tours run every half-hour from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. From Sept. 5-Sept. 24, tours are on the hour from 9 to 5. From Sept. 25 to Dec. 3, tours are at 10 and 11:30 a.m. and 1, 2:30 and 4 p.m. The rest of the winter, there are no tours.

To take the tour, you must be at least 42 inches tall and able to pass a stairstep test. Tickets are $7.50 adults, children 11 and under $5.

Other activities: There are five miles of day hiking trails within the monument. One of the more popular routes for overnight hikes is the Big Tree Trail, which joins a trail in the Siskiyou National Forest to Bigelow Lakes. Near the caves is the Cliff Nature Trail, a three-quarter-mile self-guided loop with interpretive signs.

The Oregon Caves Junior Ranger program lets youngsters earn a badge by participating in activities, including trail badges for loop trails at the park. For children too small to go on cave tours, there are special activity books and trail guides.

Information: Oregon Caves National Monument, 19000 Caves Highway, Cave Junction, OR 97523, phone 541-592-2100.

WEB SITE: www.nps.gov/orca

Crater Lake

Being there: The Rim Village Visitor Center (next to the lodge) is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. mid-June through Labor Day, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in early June and the rest of September. The Steel Visitor Center is open all year at the headquarters on the south side. It has public restrooms and a post office. The park entry fee is $10 for motor vehicles, $5 for bikers and hikers.

Staying there (indoors): For lodging and other concessionaire information, contact the Crater Lake Company, 541-830-8700.

WEB SITE: www.crater-lake.com

In addition to the lodge, there are 40 units nestled in the woods at the Mazama Village Motor Inn, about seven miles south of the lake. The village has a convenience and gift store, gas station and showers. Units go for $91 double. For reservations: 541-830-8700).

Staying there (outdoors): Mazama has a campground with about 200 sites plus a dump station; no hookups, no reservations.

Lost Creek Campground, on the spur road to the Pinnacles Overlook, has 16 sites for tents only and is open from mid-July to mid-September. It has water, flush toilets, picnic tables and fire rings.

Free permits, available at both visitor centers, are required for anyone wishing to camp overnight in the backcountry.

Activities: There are more than 50 miles trails in the park, including 33 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. Some trails head for Mount Scott (8,929 feet), Garfield Peak and Crater Peak, and you can actually hike to the lake surface on the Cleetwood Trail. Ranger-guided hikes are available daily late June through Labor Day and include backcountry natural history hikes and historical walks.

When it's open, try the 33-mile Rim Drive around Crater Lake, a two-lane road with numerous overlooks.

Evenings in the summer, rangers offer programs at the Mazama Campground Amphitheater, starting at 9 p.m. from late June through Aug. 1, then at 8:30 p.m. through Labor Day. A Junior Ranger Program is available for ages 6 to 12 at the amphitheater, 5 p.m. from late June to the end of August.

Another popular activity at the park is a boat ride on the lake itself. Led by park rangers, the hour and 45 minute trips run nine times a day from late June or early July through mid-September. Tickets are sold at the parking lot near the Cleetwood Cove trailhead and are about $15 per person for adults. Getting to the boat dock and back on the Cleetwood trail is strenuous and often buggy.

Information: Crater Lake National Park, P.O. Box 7, Crater Lake, OR 97604, phone 541-594-2211, extension 402.

WEB SITE: www.nps.gov/crla