"Over the Oregon Caves Highway from its junction with the Redwood Highway, US199, in Cave Junction, easterly to the Oregon Caves."
~ ODOT, Descriptions of US and Oregon Routes, March 2007
OR-46 was created at the inception of the Oregon route numbering system in 1932, heading between US-199 in Cave Junction (formerly called Redwood Highway Junction) and the Oregon Caves National Monument in the middle of the Rogue River National Forest. The caves themselves were discovered in 1874 by Elijah Davidson, who discovered them while hunting bears in the forest. Since then, the caves were dedicated in 1909 as a National Monument, and the largest complete Jaguar fossil in the country was found in 1995 by people mapping the caves. Because of the preciousness of the caves, and because OR-46 is a narrow, steep, winding highway, it can be very dangerous to travel.
Before the road that became OR-46 was built in 1922, the only way to access the caves was by a 12-mile trail from Williams, Oregon, which is closer to present-day OR-238.