The Oregon Caves Chateau
Virtual Tour
Part 4 - Landscape

June 6-8, 2004

by Jess Stryker

Click on any photo for a larger image.

Planning to visit the Chateau? See our primary Oregon Caves Chateau Information page where you will find an extensive list of the Chateau's facilities and amenities, maps and directions, the Chateau's direct reservations phone number, and a number of specific suggestions that will make your visit more enjoyable.

Oregon Caves National Monument:

Most of the landscape at Oregon Caves National Monument was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corp between 1934 and 1943. Materials used were either from the park, or selected to appear to be from the park. This creates a harmony between the constructed landscape and the surrounding natural features.

dry laid retaining wall
This is a retaining wall constructed of marble blocks, "dry laid", that is, the wall is constructed by fitting the blocks carefully together so they interlock without mortar.


NPS-Rustic Style

The style of landscape architecture used here at Oregon Caves is commonly referred to as "NPS-Rustic". (NPS means National Park Service.) Keep in mind that contrary to most people's beliefs, landscape architecture is more than plant selection and placement. Particularly when used by the NPS, landscape architecture incorporates all aspects of the visual landscape, including the placement of all man-built structures in relationship to the natural surroundings. So the NPS-Rustic landscape architecture style includes building exterior appearance, road layout and design, bridges, walls, walkways, and plant selection and placement. Within the park service a landscape architect is often the lead designer of the human use facilities of a park, determining where everything man-made in a park will be located and what it will look like. This is not meant to undercut the contributions of architects and engineers. Architects and engineers work closely with the landscape architect, often providing a "reality check" as to what is possible, and fleshing out the details. It is a closely coordinated team effort.

fire hose house
Details extend to even small features, like this fire hose building which is set into the hill side and covered with cedar bark for a rustic appearance. Almost all of the buildings at Oregon Caves are sheathed with cedar bark.


The NPS-Rustic style of landscape is defined by:

The idea of the NPS-Rustic style is to create man-made features that blend into, and become part of the natural environment. Look at the photos on this page and notice how few straight lines there are. Walls, walkways and roads have curving edges. This is based on the theory that "nature abhors a straight line". This is somewhat of a misclaim, abundant examples of straight lines exist in nature. Even so, the minimal use of straight lines does create a appearance that is relaxing and very pleasing to the eye.

paved trail
Paving the trails reduces soil compaction which damages roots and reduces erosion. Note the rock retaining walls on either side of the trail.


The elements of the NPS-Rustic style are very obvious in the photo above. Notice how the path curves. The walls are built from natural marble from the area, and are built without mortar which requires intensive amounts of hand labor and skill. A well-built dry-laid wall like this will far outlast a concrete or mortar wall. The lack of mortar makes the wall somewhat flexible, allowing it to move and settle, becoming a part of the natural environment over time. If you think of the ground surface it is constantly, but slowly changing. Soil erodes, plants come and go, water moves things around. A dry-laid wall flexes and moves with the soil, but a rigid concrete or mortar wall fights against this movement and eventually is overcome and broken by the soil movement.

log rail
A log railing defines the edge of this heavily traveled trail and discourages people from creating short-cut trails down the adjacent steep slope. Note the rock lined culvert to direct water down the slope from the road in the background.


The NPS-Rustic Style was first developed in the early 1900's by the park service. By 1935 it had been formally defined and set forth in a book called Park Structures and Facilities. Since most of the work at Oregon Caves was constructed at about the same time the book was released, the landscape here is a good example of the fully developed style. The book was replaced in 1938 with a new book called Park and Recreation Structures. Today this same book is published under the name Patterns from the Golden Age of Rustic Design and is available at the Caves Gift shop, or from

ADA rail
Steep paths that are to be accessible to the disabled are required to have a hand rail. Since the top log is too large to grasp, a second smaller rail is added for that purpose.


rock stairs
Stone steps. Note that the steps are placed as natural, and are not installed at right angles to the trail. An example of the avoidance of symmetry that is part of the NPS-Rustic design style.


rock trail
The trail has been paved with flat rocks in this area. This is common in areas where springs create muddy trails. Again, note the intentional effort to avoid anything being symmetric or aligned.


metal swing
This simple, but cleverly designed, metal & wood swing is located adjacent to the Trout Pond to allow visitors a pleasant place to gently swing while relaxing next to the pond.


trout pond
This photo is looking down from the road at the trout pond. You can see the swing below the camera.


trout pond
The trout pond was stocked with trout for many years. The park service no longer places trout in the pond. The water fall was created by routing cave creek through a culvert under the road.


upper waterfall
This is the upper waterfall above the road. You can see the cave entrance directly above the waterfall. The lower wall on the left is a patio. From the small pond at the base of the waterfall the water runs under the road and then drops over the larger waterfall into the Trout Pond. All of this is constructed, these aren't natural waterfalls.


upper falls
Another view of the upper waterfall with the Chalet (Visitor Center) in the background. The water going over the waterfall flows out of the cave. Inside the cave it is called the River Styx, after it exits the cave it becomes Cave Creek.


flow control dam
This small dam temporarily captures sudden, large flows of water to control flash flooding. Large logs have been placed across the creek bed for the same purpose. This slows down the water runoff and helps keeps the culverts under the buildings from overflowing after a rain downpour.


drain inlet
Drain inlets (there are several) for the underground culverts that route the creek overflow water under the Chalet and Chateau.



I hope you enjoyed this virtual tour! If you plan to visit the Chateau, please see the review of our visit to The Chateau at Oregon Caves, as well as our Planning Your Visit page for helpful trip planning information.

Click Here for the review.


Oregon Caves Chateau Tour Index:

Oregon Caves Chateau, Part 1. Virtual Tour of The Chateau at Oregon Caves- the Exterior.
Oregon Caves Chateau, Part 2. Virtual Tour of The Chateau at Oregon Caves- the Interior Public Areas.
Oregon Caves Chateau, Part 3. Virtual Tour of The Chateau at Oregon Caves- the Guest Rooms & Ghosts.
Oregon Caves Chateau, Part 4. Virtual Tour of The Chateau at Oregon Caves- the Landscape.
Oregon Caves Chateau, Review. The Chateau at Oregon Caves- Review.
Oregon Caves Chalet Photos and information on the historic Chalet Visitor's Center building.
The Oregon Caves. Photos from the park service Cave Tour.
Oregon Caves Chateau- Planning Your Visit Brief history, extensive list of facilities and amenities, advice for visitors, maps and directions, reservations phone number.


All text and images by Jess Stryker, unless noted. Text copyright © Jess Stryker, 2007. Photos copyright © Jess Stryker, 2004.All rights reserved.


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