Newberry National Volcanic Monument - Unique Places in North America

Lava Butte is a popular attraction at the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.
Lava Butte is a popular attraction at the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

The Newberry National Volcanic Monument is a protected area found within the Newberry Volcano. The monument was established on November 5, 1990, within the Deschutes Forest and it is under the management of the US Forest Service. The monument consists of 20,000 hectares of lava flows, lakes, and other stunning geological features in the central part of Oregon.


The summit of Paulina Peak is the highest point in the monument at 7,985 feet. During summer, the summit is accessible via road through trailers and long vehicles are discouraged because the access road is steep, rough, and have dangerous sharp turns as it approaches the summit. The summit has two lakes, Paulina Lake and East Lake, which are full of trout. Lava River Cave is approximately 13 miles to the south of the Bend, Oregon and it is the largest uncollapsed lava tube in Oregon. Lava Butte, on the other hand, is approximately 11 miles to the south of the bend, and it is a type of cinder cone volcano which is 500 feet higher than the Lava Lands visitor center. Lava Butte can be reached by vehicle or through hiking the trail. Lava Cast Forest is around 25 miles to the south of the bend and can be accessed through the 9-mile gravel road branching from the US Highway 97.


The Deschutes Forest is home to several animals which include the mule deer, golden-mantled ground squirrel, black bears, Osprey, Woodpeckers, and the Yellow-pine Chipmunk. The forest also has several birds and reptiles. The Lava River Cave is home to several bat species. The forest has a variety of plant species growing. Initially, the forest was covered by lava flow around 7,000 years ago which left molds of some of the ancient trees. The Newbery Caldera came into existence as a result of magma chamber collapsing and water filling up over time to form the East Lake and Paulina Lake.


The Newberry National Volcanic Monument is famed for its unique geological landscape. The Lava lands were created after a volcanic eruption which was experienced 7,000 years ago left behind a sea of jagged lava rock. The Lava Cast Forest is also one of its own, with tree casts created years ago by overflowed lava.


The monument has several tours and destinations for tourists. The lava lands visitor center includes a 20-minute presentation about the monument. The lava lands tour comprises of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument Exhibit, the trail of Molten Land, the trail of whispering pines, the crater rim trail, the lava butte viewpoint, and Benham Falls. The Cave in Lava River Interpretive Site is a mile long lava tube. Visitors are issued a self-exploration guide to the tube, and use lanterns to explore the cave. The cascade lakes welcome station has the most popular trails, lakes, and recreation areas. The station offers a learning opportunity to all visitors. The monument offers several recreational activities to visitors which include hiking, bicycling, camping, horse-riding, and fishing among several others activities.


Wildfires are a threat to forests in the US, though nowadays controlled fires are also started in forests to reduce hazardous fuels and to manage forests. In 2017, the Deschutes forest encountered the Milli fire, and some areas of the forest were closed. Bats in the Lava River Cave are at risk of getting the white-nose syndrome a disease common to bats in North America. Therefore the cave is closed to visitors from October to April to protect the bats.


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