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Explore Skylight Cave

Deschutes County, Oregon

4.4/5
based on 10 reviews

Details

Distance

0.2 miles

Elevation Gain

-25 ft

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Description

Added by Brian Fulda

Skylight Cave is a local gem known for its three "skylights," which provide stunning light beams that shine down into the cave. 

The hardest part about getting to Skylight Cave is the drive. Start by coming from Sisters, Oregon, and use the driving directions below to find it. The Google Maps pin is accurate, and if you like coordinates, you can use 44°20'55.3"N 121°42'55.9"W as well.

It's recommended you download an offline map of the area in advance, as it has no service most of the way. It takes roughly 6-7 miles of driving on some dirt/gravel roads to get there, so vehicles with low clearances aren't recommended. This is definitely doable in a 2WD vehicle, but is best fared by a vehicle with 4WD.

Parking is not allowed at the entrance of the cave itself, so turn back the way you came a little bit and park on the turnoff. The entrance is clearly marked by a forest service sign with a number of bulletins, one of which states that the cave is closed from October to May in order to protect the bat habitat. You will descend down a small, sturdy metal ladder to enter the cave. If you make your way left, you will find the "skylights" after about 300 feet. If you go right, there is about 900 feet of cave to explore, but ultimately it dead ends. There are no services at the site, so utilize a pack in, pack out policy. Please sign the entrance log so the forest service can track visitors, and leave this place as you found it so others can continue to enjoy it.

The cave is only open in the summer months, but luckily this is the best time to go, as this is when the three light beams illuminate the cave. In order to see the beams in their full glory, it is recommended you go between 8-10 AM. After that, the angle of the sun prevents the light beams from shining in the cave. Do keep in mind that on overcast days, the beams will not be visible, so try to plan going on a day with clear skies for direct sunlight. 

Directions:
44°20'55.3"N 121°42'55.9"W

1. Coming from Highway 20/126 northwest of Sisters, Oregon, turn onto Geo McAllister Road (enter "McAllister Road Sisters OR" on your phone's map app). The road is directly across the turnoff for Camp Sherman.
2. After about a quarter mile, turn right onto the dirt forest road 2061.
3. Continue for nearly 6 miles on 2061 through the forest on this dirt road. You will eventually reach a clearing with many bare trees, with a fork in the road shortly thereafter.
4. Turn left at the fork onto 1028. Continue for roughly half a mile.
5. Turn left onto 260 (which soon turns into 2060).
6. Skylight Cave will be on the right after about a mile. There is a forest service sign on the side of the road so you can't miss it.

NOTE: These forest roads are known to be blocked by downed trees from time to time, so these directions may change. This post was last updated in August, 2017. It is best to check with the Deschutes National Forest Ranger Station in Sisters for the latest information on how to get to Skylight Cave (they also have an informational handout) either by visiting their office at US-20 & S Pine St, or by calling them at 541-549-7700 (M-F, 8am-4:30pm).

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Features

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Reviews

Loved this spot!! Hopefully people will enjoy this and not destroy it. I’m hoping that it can be kept low key. Loved the off reading part

I was there August 25, 2018 and it was open. There were no notices on the bulletin board of closure and no obstruction to entering. I camped nearby, had the place all to myself.

Went to the ranger station in Sisters today 8/21/18 and they told me it was closed because someone started a fire in here and they are figuring out how to protect the bats. Check before going.

I went to Skylight today 5/2/17, got there around noon and almost missed the light show. We tried following Rhea instructions but got lost. When you turn on Geo McAllister from the highway it put us on 2060 a paved road. To get on 2061 it is the first right off Geo McAllister near the highway, and is a dirt road, which you take 5.5 miles. Do not continue down 2060 Geo McAlister paved road, it takes you past a private horse farm and to small FS roads that have bad brush to scratch your car. Happy hunting.

Thank you for the precise directions! We made it down 2061 until 230 and have come to yellow caution tape blocking the way of 2061 with seemingly new private property & camera monitoring signs on the trees. :( Could this be someone closing it because of the upcoming eclipse?

I have updated the post with more thorough directions to avoid the downed trees mentioned in another review. These directions should be very accurate.

Real directions!!! Skylight Cave may be reached from Hwy 20/126 by turning onto forest road 2061/Geo McAllister (directly across from the Camp Sherman turnoff) and follow it about 5.5 miles to forest road 1028. Turn left on forest road 1028 and follow it about 1/2 mile to forest road 260. Turn left on forest road 260 and follow it about 1 mile where you’ll find the entrance to the cave on the right side of the road. Watch for a very small road marker on the left indicating Road 266; the cave is near this road. There should also be a bulletin board with sign in sheet. Dont forget to sign so forest service knows how many people visit. You might have to pull off after 3/4 mile and walk the rest of the way because the road gets a bit narrow for a car. There is a natural pull off to park around this point. No need for 4 wheel just go slow. Lava tubes go for quite a while. Hiking poles and headlamps helpful. Ground is uneven from lava rocks. Go in the morning for best light. Ladder down is metal, very heavy and sturdy.

So we got super lucky to find this place and twice as lucky we were there during the light show. I don't know if I could find it again but if you do it's absolutely amazing.

DO NOT USE THE GOOGLE PIN!!! My lady and I went searching for the cave using the directions provided from this post and they were very inaccurate! They took us down some rough forest roads (not a big deal in our Subaru) but the roads choked down from brush and were blocked by multiple downed trees. The trees had definitely been there for a while. So after thrashing the sides of our car and scratching it to hell and back, I finally called the forest service for proper directions and their route was a breeze! Way more direct and wayyyy easier on the vehicle. To top that fail off, we wasted so much time trying to decipher these directions that my the time we located the cave we missed the light show. Do yourself a favor and stop by the Sisters forest service headquarters and grab their handout for the caves. Super disappointing!!! Lesson learned though, don't trust a random web post!

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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