Check out the dark side of Central Oregon by wandering into the underground wonder of Boyd’s Cave.
It’s one of the many geological oddities created by the active volcanic history of the area, and it offers the extra benefit of being popular enough to guarantee that visitors are never alone in the dark. Boyd Cave is also open year-round, unlike many of Oregon's lava tube caves. Most close in winter months to protect colonies of hibernating bats.
Boyd Cave is a roughly 1,880-foot-long lava tube cave that’s estimated to have been formed about 10,000 years ago. It’s located about 12 miles from Bend, and is friendly to visitors in the sense that the cave floor is relatively flat, and the ceiling is standing-height for most of the hike. There’s also a ladder leading down to the cave floor, unlike many Oregon caves, which are accessible only via rocky scrambles into the dark.
Take the steel stairs 20 feet down into a chilly underground setting, and take in the dynamic basalt and pahoehoe formations. You’ll want to be sure to explore with a headlight to illuminate the way, and to allow for hands-free adventuring. Expect some rocky clambering and one very low section of the cave that requires army-crawling on the ground to get through. The hike is only just over a mile in length, but the underground experience and the physical challenge will make it seem longer.
Note that it’s always strongly recommended to bring backup lights sources and basic first aid supplies with caving. Remember to wear layers, even in high summer, as temperatures are much lower underground.
Directions from Bend:
Take Highway 97 south and exit at Knott Road (exit #143). After exiting, take a left and head east towards China Hat Road. Take China Hat Road for about 15-20 minutes before you reach a turnoff to the left. A dirt road will lead to a small parking area and the entrance to the cave.