If you live in Oregon, you know this is volcano country. You probably also know that dormant or extinct volcanoes promise some of the best outdoor adventures. But there’s one region just south of Bend that deserves special attention from the adventure-inclined: the 56,400-acre Newberry National Volcanic Monument.
The size of the area promises a plethora of wonders, including miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding. Lava Butte, a 7,000-year-old cinder cone, is one of the geological highlights; scale the 500-foot summit and you’ll be rewarded with a panoramic view of Cascade volcanoes to the north. Say hello to Broken Top, the Three Sisters and Mt. Bachelor.
Be wowed by this sea of jagged lava rock around Lava Lands Visitor Center, the remains of a massive volcanic explosion roughly 7,000 years ago. This unique geological landscape is open to visitors, who are encouraged to walk the Trail of Molten Lands. A paved path leads through the remnants of this ancient natural disaster landscape. Fun fact: In the 1960s, NASA astronauts trained in this area to learn how to walk on the moon!
Lava Cast Forest is not your ordinary Oregon woods. Located about halfway between the Newberry Caldera and the Visitor Center, this 1-mile interpretive trail leads through a ghostly landscape of an extinct forest. The trail features astounding sights of basalt casts of trees, logs and lakes caused by lava flows.
And it’s not all rocks around here! Be sure to check out Paulina Falls--double falls which tumble 80 feet into the Newberry Caldera. It’s a stunning sight amid all the dark lava rock. And after you’re done admiring the thundering water, check out the Paulina Falls Trail, which runs between 1.6 to 16.6 miles in length, depending on which loops you take.
Operational hours of the various centers, tours, walks and activities vary seasonally. Click the "Learn More" button to check out the official website for a full list of details and opportunities. In general, expect to pay a minimum of $5 for a day parking pass, or buy a $30 Northwest Forest Pass for use throughout Oregon and Washington: http://goo.gl/Jqt2qJ
Directions to the Lava Lands Visitor center from Bend:
Travel south on Highway 97 for about 8 miles south of Exit 143 Baker/Knot Rd. Turn right into the pocket lane when you see lava and the Lava Lands sign.