It’s hard to believe, but 25 years ago, the volcanic features that make up Newberry National Volcanic Monument weren’t protected. If it wasn’t for a group of concerned Central Oregonians, the monument wouldn’t exist.
“In the late 80s, at the time, the collaborative process we see today for land-use planning just wasn’t as common. So, the success of that effort locally really helped it move through Washington quite quickly to become a National Monument,” said Scott McBride, the monument manager.
Now, more than 54,000-acres are protected. Including one of the most visible and popular attractions — Lava Butte.
“There’s the combination on the top of Lava Butte of being near an active lookout, hiking a short ¼ mile trail and getting views to the high Cascades or Newberry Volcano,” said McBride.
The heart of the monument is Newberry Volcano. In the caldera there’s two lakes, Paulina Lake and East Lake. There’s endless opportunities for fun on the water, camping, hiking and more.
“You can bring a horse, a sailboat, a fishing boat, a bike, and be perfectly happy to with finding a place to recreate in the mode that you want to in this National Monument as well,” said McBride.
If you’re a history buff, make sure to hike in the Big Obsidian flow. Believe it or not, at 1,300 years old, it’s the youngest lava flow in Oregon and it was used to test astronaut suits!
“The belief was that testing the mobility of the suit on the Obsidian Flow would be mimic those conditions that the moon would present with those same suits,” said McBride. “Whether that played out that way I don’t know but the story is, a rock from Newberry was brought and left on the moon.”
And another part of the monument, might make you feel like you’re on another planet.
“Lava River Cave is approximately a mile long underground world that’s about just a mile and a half from the visitor center,” said McBride. “It’s a great visit on a hot day especially, it stays about 42 degrees in the cave.”
Paulina Falls is a stunner no matter what the weather is. It’s also incredibly accessible, you can actually hear the roar of the twin falls from the parking lot.
“A lot of visitors will get the short walk looking down on the twin falls plunging about 80 feet over welded volcanic, tough cliff, but if you take that extra ¼ mile walk down below it’s a great perspective,” said McBride.
It’s truly a view even locals will find breathtaking.
“Residents of La Pine, Sunriver and Bend have a chance to rediscover or still discover for the first time that this national treasure is right out your back door,” said McBride.