Saturday, September 5, 2015
Newberry National Volcanic Monument,
Crooked River Back Country Byway



The three of us, specifically, my husband Tom, my brother Brian, and me (Jana), are spending the three nights of Labor Day Weekend in Bend, Oregon, on the more arid eastern side of the Cascade Range. Bend, population approximately 80,000, is the largest city in central Oregon and a good base for day trips around the area. It poured down rain much of the night, but by morning the weather was beautiful!

This morning we headed south from Bend to Newberry National Volcanic Monument, encompassing 55,000 acres within the Deschutes National Forest. First we came to Lava Butte, a 500-foot cinder cone, one of more than 400 cinder cones in the Deschutes National Forest formed from volcanic eruptions. We parked and rode a shuttle to the top of the butte for a couple of bucks each. There's a fire lookout at the top, and you can walk around the rim of the cone and overlook its nine-square-mile lava flow. In the Lava Lands Visitor Center, at the foot of the cone, there is a 3D topo map giving an overview of the greater Newberry Monument area.

#########

Cinder cones, Newberry National Volcanic Monument

#########

Looking into the crater of Lava Butte

A little further south in the monument, we visited Lava River Cave, Oregon's longest known intact lava tube, formed during a massive eruption of the Newberry Volcano around 80,000 years ago. Here you can explore the mile-long cave without a guide, with only the light you carry with you. A staircase leads down onto a metal walkway and then to the uneven floor of the cave. It was busy enough here that we had to wait for a place to park, and a ranger suggested we come back another day, but we didn't have another day so we persisted. There was certainly a crowd when we entered the cave, but after a few hundred feet, Tom turned back, we lost the group, and Brian and I were on our own. It's pretty spooky down there with just your flashlight illuminating the way, but that's part of what makes it so cool.

#########

Lava River Cave entrance

#########

The descent

#########

Inside the lava tube

Next we stopped at Paulina Falls, an 80-foot twin waterfall located at the lowest point of the huge Newberry Caldera. A short but steep trail leads to the bottom of the falls.

#########

Paulina Falls

The highest point within the monument is Paulina Peak, the summit of the Newberry Volcano, at 7,984 feet. The last few miles to the top are via a narrow, twisting dirt road. When you reach the peak, you are rewarded with great views of the Newberry Caldera, scenic jagged rocks, a vast lava flow, and two gorgeous alpine lakes, Paulina Lake and East Lake.

#########

Paulina Lake and East Lake from Paulina Peak

#########

Jana at Paulina Peak

#########

Jana and Brian

We backtracked to Bend and had lunch at Subway, then headed north and east to Prineville, turning south on the Crooked River Back Country Byway, along the Crooked River National Wild and Scenic River, and traveled as far as the Arthur R. Bowman Dam and the Prineville Reservoir before heading west back to Bend. Following the river between buttes and dry brush, it looked like a scene out of a old western movie.

#########

Crooked River

#########

Along the Crooked River

#########

Just needs Indians on horseback

Back in Bend, we drove to Pilot Butte State Scenic Viewpoint, at the top of Pilot Butte, an old cinder cone rising 511 feet above the city. We were there just in time for sunset. From here you can see many mountains of the Cascade Range, but the visibility wasn't perfect tonight due to forest fires in the region. Still, it was beautiful.

#########

Bend, Oregon, at sunset, from Pilot Butte State Park

#########

From Pilot Butte

Later we walked across the street from our hotel to the Pour House Grill. We tried the 10 Barrel S1nister Black Ale, Pelican Kiwanda Cream Ale, Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar, Boulder Beer Shake Chocolate Porter, and Fearless Scottish Ale. Oh, and some food too, brisket nachos, a Reuben sandwich, and a BBQ pork salad. Nom, nom. Even though Bend is a good-sized town and we're here on a Saturday during a holiday weekend, we were still the last ones in the restaurant when we left shortly before 10:30. Oregon shuts down EARLY!


Continue to September 6, 2015

Oregon & Washington Journal Main Page

Tom Goetz's Homepage

Sign our guestbook

View our guestbook