I was a bit surprised to discover two caves off of China Hat Road (Road 18) have been permanently closed to the public. Both Skeleton and Wind caves have been gated up like many other lava tubes in the Arnold Tube system off China Hat Road.
Other caves have been gated to preserve Townsend Big Eared Bat habitat in years past, but these two caves have long been touted as tourist attractions by the Forest Service and locals alike.
I’m guessing recent acts of vandalism at Skeleton cave prompted the road closures and subsequent gating of the cave mouths. I was unable to find any press releases on the Deschutes NFS website about the closures, nor anything from local press.
I have personally always respected the seasonal closures of these caves, and have never witnessed many abusing it. I do walk my dogs in the area frequently and am very sad to see access to these local treasures stripped away.