On the outskirts of Bend, Oregon, sits a funny little swatch of land all covered in lava. It is, in fact, called Lava Lands, and is part of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument which stretches south for miles and encompasses Paulina Peak and two alpine lakes. We had to stay a bit closer north, but we were still rewarded with some great views from the lava fields on the fantastically-named “Trail of Molten Land.”
The .8 mile paved interpretive trail wanders around the peaks and valleys of the lava flow that erupted from Lava Butte about 7,000 years ago. A road goes up to the top of the shield volcano, and if you visit you can look down into the 60 feet deep crater. But the road and interpretive center were both closed in February, so we’ll just have to make plans to come back.
The sight was still impressive: the tall volcano keeping watch over it’s rocky destruction, extending out to the defined tree line, then suddenly stopping. A few signs of life seemed to scrabble an existence in the rough rocks. I can imagine being here in the hot desert sun of summer would be an even better evocation of lava. On a frosty day in February, though, we enjoyed the sun’s warmth.
If You Go:
Lava Lands Visitor Center: The center is open for the season from May-October, but there is still limited parking and accessibility on the off-season, as we experienced.
Nearby there’s also Lava River Cave, Oregon’s longest continuous lava tube. (Like Ape Caves in Washington, which we explored last April!) We didn’t have time for it this trip–and also, probably shouldn’t be 6 months pregnant for it, but it sounded fun!