The best place to see the most dramatic volcanic landscapes in the United States is, of course, Hawaii. But not everyone can afford to go to Hawaii - it is infamously expensive there. There are also many other-worldly volcanic attractions throughout the western portion of the United States including Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and California. There's more to be seen than can ever be seen or do, than can ever be done in the picturesque PNW region of the United States.
The Newberry National Volcanic Monument in Oregon is a monument that protects a number of different volcanic attractions and unearthly landscapes. While in the region, explore other iconic volcanos 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 The Newberry National Volcanic Monument
The Newberry National Volcanic Monument protects the Newberry Volcano and includes crater lakes, lava flows, tree mounds, and exciting lava tube caves. Newberry Volcano is a massive shield volcano.
- Geological Features: the Newberry Volcano, Crater Lakes, Lava Flows, Tree Mounds, Lave Tube Caves
- Size: 54,822 acres (86 sq mi; 222 km2)
The monument exists within the larger Deschutes Nation Forest and is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. At the summit region of the Newberry Volcano, there are two pristine alpine caldera lakes called East Lake and Paulina Lake (they are full of trout).
The four main attractions within the volcanic monument are Lava Butte, Lava River Cave, Lava Cast Forest, and Newberry Caldera.
The whole volcano is the size of Rhode Island and the gateway is the stunning central Oregon town of Bend.
Lava Butte is a cinder cone and the source of the lava flows and the jagged volcanic glass one sees in the area. It is part of a system of small cinder cones of the massive shield volcano on its northwestern flank.
The Lava Butte has only experienced a single eruption around 7,000 years ago. The ejected hot basalt flowed and covered a large area and remains largely free of vegetation today. It reached the Deschutes River around 2.5 miles away and dammed the river to form a lake called Lake Benham. Over time the river eroded the dam and formed the Benham Falls.
- Fun Fact: In 1966 Twenty Two Astronauts Trained In the Area for the Moon Landings
Come in the holiday season from early May to mid-October and take a shuttle up Red Cinder Road from the Lava Lands Visitor Center to the lookout on Lava Butte.
Lava River Cave
Go underground to see a whole different world lurking below the surface. The Lava River Cave is managed by the U.S. Forest Service which also offers guided tours into it. Initial access descends 55 stairs to a combination of flat boardwalk, uneven surfaces, and stairways.
- 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 extends some 5,211 feet (1,588 meters) and is the longest continuous lava tube in Oregon.
- 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/week
- Tour Duration: 1.5 Hours
- Distance: 2.2 Miles Round Trip
Lava Cast Forest
Another of the major attractions in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument is the Lava Cast Forest. This timeless other-worldly expanse of destructive desolation was formed around 6,000 years ago. The Lava flow created lava molds of ancient trees, the lava was shaped, cooled, and hardened by the trees before they were incinerated by the siring temperatures.
Today there is something of a ghost forest preserved in the rock covering the land. It is accessed by a gravel road from U.S. Highway 97. From the parking lot, walk the interpretive loop trail and see the skeletons of an ancient cooked forest.
- Longest: The Longest Horizontal Casts Can Be Up to 50 to 60 Feet Long
Up on the Newberry Caldera, one will find a forested landscape with two picture-perfect caldera lakes - the Paulina Lake and East Lake. The highest point is Paulina Peak and it is the largest volcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc. The caldera itself is 4 by 4 miles in diameter.
In the vicinity are also many pyroclastic cones, lava flows, and lava domes. There are restaurants and campgrounds around the lakes in the Caldera. Don't forget to look for and soak in the hot springs in the area.