Last month, I got to be an Artist-in-Residence for the National Park Service for the second time. I spent two weeks writing poetry about Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve’s old-growth forests and stunning cave formations.
The cave at the monument is a type of marble dissolution cave. Acidic rainwater flowed through blue-veined marble to create it.
The cave features River Styx, the only underground river in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. River Styx also flows outside the cave, becoming Cave Creek.
The cave contains a number of cave species, including several species of bats, cave crickets, grylloblattids, and an endemic eyeless millipede.
The cave formations were incredible. There were stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, flowstone, and drapery.
The formations grew very slowly, with many of the largest forming over hundreds of thousands of years.
You can see historic graffiti etched or scrawled on the rock in many places. This graffiti was from men and women who explored the cave in the 1800s.
A paper-thin layer of flowstone has grown over the names, trapping them there.