Largely bypassed by the early non-native explorers, fur traders, and settlers because of its remote location, the region attracted newcomers in quantity when prospectors found gold near Jacksonville in the Rogue River valley in 1851.Only a few people visited the cave during the next decade.
Among them was Thomas Condon, professor of geology at the University of Oregon.
Guided by Davidson's brother, in 1884 he and a group of students hiked from Williams to the cavern, which they inspected by candlelight.
The growing popularity of the automobile, construction of paved highways, and promotion of tourism by boosters from Grants Pass led to large increases in cave visitation during the late 1920s and thereafter.
Among the attractions at the remote monument is the Oregon Caves Chateau, a six-story hotel built in a rustic style in 1934.
Over the next two decades, private investors failed in efforts to run successful tourist ventures at the publicly owned site.
After passage of the Antiquities Act by the United States Congress, in 1909 President William Howard Taft established Oregon Caves National Monument, to be managed by the United States Forest Service (USFS).
Oregon Caves is a solutional cave, with passages totaling about 15,000 feet (4,600 m), formed in marble.
The parent rock was originally limestone that metamorphosed to marble during the geologic processes that created the Klamath Mountains, including the Siskiyous.
Activities at the park include cave touring, hiking, photography, and wildlife viewing.
One of the park trails leads through the forest to Big Tree, which at 13 feet (4.0 m) is the widest Douglas fir known in Oregon.
In 1909, President William Howard Taft established Oregon Caves National Monument, to be managed by the USFS.