An Ancient Playground

Views from Paulina Peak on a hike in Newberry National Volcanic Monument.
Views from Paulina Peak on a hike in Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

Central Oregon’s Newberry National Volcanic Monument is home to lava tubes and ersatz moon walks

written by Joni Kabana
photography by Rich Bacon/Visit Bend

Get your lanterns out—you’re going to need them. Lava River Cave, Oregon’s longest uncollapsed lava tube, can be found approximately 13 miles south of Bend but feels like it is located in an ancient undiscovered land. This cave is in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, which includes 54,822 acres of lava flows, lakes and geologic wonders. Visitors can also explore destinations such as Lava Butte, Lava Cast Forest and Newberry Caldera in addition to Lava River Cave.

If you like reflecting about your life’s journey while setting your eyes on expansive vistas, you can drive (during summer months only) along rough terrain and hairpin turns to reach Paulina Peak at 7,984 feet, where views of the Oregon Cascades and high desert plains will leave you breathless.

Take the time to explore more of this pristine region, and include an overnight stay at Newberry Caldera, which has multiple campgrounds, lodging, Forest Service interpretive guides plus access to water recreation, fishing and much more. You can even bring your horse for trail riding.

Obsidian in Newberry National Volcanic Monument.
Obsidian in Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

Rock hounds will also appreciate the Big Obsidian Flow, the youngest lava flow in Oregon, formed during an eruption just 1,300 years ago. The area features a 1-mile loop trail through a huge, shiny obsidian field, easily accessible from roads within the caldera.

Alpine lakes, hot springs, a Lava Cast Forest where 6,000-year-old lava flows created tree molds (and Apollo astronauts trained from 1964 to 1966) are all found within this Central Oregon destination. What are you waiting for?

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