The mandatory reservation comes after years of visitors struggling to find parking, according to the Deschutes National Forest. The cave receives more than 70,000 visits per year.
“It’s a great step in the right direction for predictability and stress-level reduction for everybody,” said Monument Manager Scott McBride.
Before the system, it was every person for themselves.
“We waited for a long time in our car. It was really crowded and there were lots of people down inside the cave, too,” said Sarah Brown. “I’ve had friends who’ve said they waited longer in their car than they spent in the cave, and so when I saw the reservation system, I thought that was really smart.”
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A lot of people we spoke with had the same positive attitude.
“It was really smooth coming in and making the reservation online. I think with COVID everybody is used to doing things more online so it was a pretty slick system,” said visitor Greg Rejnowski.
People are able to make reservations 30 days in advance and day-of.
The reservation is only for vehicles parking in the lot. If visitors bike, walk or are dropped off, there is no reservation required.
“We had a reservation for our car, but then we had a flat tire. We actually ended up early for a drop off, and they were like, ‘Oh well, you can just come,’” said Amy Walgamott. “In fact, I would recommend if you can do a drop off then you don’t have to deal with the parking at all.”
To book a ticket to reserve parking, you can visit Recreation.gov.