Volcanic mountains

Visit this volcanic landmark to see tree molds, lava flows and crater lakes

The best place to see the most spectacular volcanic landscapes in the United States is, of course, Hawaii. But not everyone can afford to go to Hawaii – it’s sadly expensive there. There are also many otherworldly volcanic attractions throughout the western part of the United States, including Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and California. There is more to see than can ever be seen or done, than can ever be done in the scenic PNW region of the United States.

The Newberry National Volcanic Monument in Oregon is a monument that protects a number of volcanic attractions and otherworldly landscapes. While in the area, explore other iconic volcanoes like Mount St. Helens and Mount Shasta, as well as the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in Idaho.

What to know about Newberry National Volcanic Monument

Newberry National Volcanic Monument protects Newberry Volcano and features crater lakes, lava flows, tree mounds and exciting lava tube caves. Newberry Volcano is a massive shield volcano.

  • Geological characteristics: Newberry volcano, crater lakes, lava flows, tree mounds, lava tube caves
  • Cut: 54,822 acres (86 sq mi; 222 km2)

The monument exists in the larger Deschutes National Forest and is managed by the US Forest Service. At the top of Newberry Volcano, there are two pristine alpine caldera lakes called East Lake and Paulina Lake (they are teeming with trout).

The four main attractions of the volcanic monument are Lava Butte, Lava River Cave, Lava Cast Forest and Newberry Caldera.

The entire volcano is the size of Rhode Island and the gateway is the beautiful central Oregon city of Bend.

Related: This is how you can see the best of Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii

Lava mound

Lava Butte is a cinder cone and the source of the lava flows and jagged volcanic glass seen in the area. It is part of a system of small cinder cones of the massive shield volcano on its northwest flank.

The Lava Butte had only one eruption around 7,000 years ago. The ejected hot basalt flowed and covered a large area and today remains largely devoid of vegetation. He reached the Deschutes River about 2.5 miles away and dammed the river to form a lake called Lake Benham. Over time, the river eroded the dam and formed Benham Falls.

  • Fun fact: In 1966, twenty-two astronauts trained in the area for the moon landings

Come during the holiday season from early May to mid-October and take a shuttle bus up Red Cinder Road from the Lava Lands Visitor Center to the Lava Butte Lookout.

Lava River Cave

Go underground to see a whole other world lurking beneath the surface. Lava River Cave is managed by the US Forest Service which also offers guided tours. Initial access descends 55 steps to a combination of flat boardwalk, uneven surfaces and stairs.

  • The longest : It is the longest continuous lava tube cave in Oregon
  • Length: 5,211 feet (1,588 meters)
  • Discovered: In 1889 (previously known to Native Americans)

The Lava River Cave spans 1,588 meters (5,211 feet) and is Oregon’s longest continuous lava tube.

  • May 6 – May 31 | 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. | Thursday – Monday (Closed Tuesday / Wednesday)
  • June 1 – September 15 | 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. | Open 7 days a week
  • Duration of the visit: 1.5 hours
  • Distance: 2.2 miles round trip

Related: Loihi Volcano Submerged: Destined To Be Hawaii’s Newest Island?

lava flow forest

Another of the main attractions at Newberry National Volcanic Monument is the Lava Flow Forest. This timeless, otherworldly expanse of destructive desolation formed around 6,000 years ago. The lava flow created lava molds from ancient trees, the lava was shaped, cooled and hardened by the trees before being incinerated by the generation temperatures.

Today there is something of a ghost forest preserved in the rock that covers the earth. It is accessed by a gravel road from US Highway 97. From the parking lot, walk the interpretive loop trail and see the skeletons of an ancient baked forest.

  • The longest : The longest horizontal casts can be up to 50 to 60 feet long

Newberry Caldera

On the Newberry Caldera, one will find a forested landscape with two picture-perfect caldera lakes – Paulina Lake and East Lake. The highest point is Paulina Peak and it is the largest volcano in the Cascades volcanic arc. The caldera itself is 4 by 4 miles in diameter.

Also in the vicinity are numerous pyroclastic cones, lava flows and lava domes. There are restaurants and campgrounds around the Caldera lakes. Don’t forget to seek out and bathe in the hot springs in the area.


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