Central Oregon’s Moonscape
Many who come to Central Oregon say it looks like nowhere else they’ve visited. Sure, there are the mountain vistas and the Ponderosa pines, the picturesque rivers and the deep blue lakes.
But to many, the most astonishing aspect is the lunarscape — the lava rocks, cinder cones and lava tubes that dot the region, betraying its geologic history.
Back in the 1960s, when the United States set its goal to take “one small step for a man, a giant leap for mankind,” it looked to Central Oregon for training.
Apollo 11 astronauts, including Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, came to Bend between 1964 and 1966, according to a 2009 article in The Bulletin. The researchers and astronauts visited the region to study the area’s volcanic rock and basalt, believing it might bear a resemblance to the moonscape. They also practiced walking in their space gear on the rocks.
The astronauts and researchers visited McKenzie Pass, as well as Lava Lands, where the lava flow is uneven and can be sharp. According to The Bulletin article, with NASA scientists unsure what the astronauts might find, they wanted them to practice traversing the sharp rocks to minimize the chance they’d fall on the moon and rip their suits.
They traveled up to the top of Lava Butte, tried out pumice fields south of the butte, walked through Hole in the Ground and Paulina Peak, and checked out the lava flow at McKenzie Pass. Television crews filmed one astronaut practicing near the pass in 1964.
The visits to the region were just a part of a year long training astronauts underwent to prepare for the moon landing. They also traveled to Texas, Nevada and elsewhere. The astronauts also practiced planting the flag, climbing in and out of Apollo 11, water landings, even scooping up lunar rocks.
More inspiring stories, adventures, and tips & tricks for planning and experiencing the best Central Oregon has to offer.
Accessible Adventure: Easy Hikes for Families near Bend, Oregon
There are so many great hikes in Central Oregon, it can be tough to choose where to start. For beginner hikers or families here’s a couple of easy to get to – and more importantly – easy to conquer starter-hikes. Flanking the Deschutes River near Bend’s Old Mill District, the Deschutes River Trail is a 3-mile loop that starts near Farewell Bend Park.
Camp Abbot’s Important Role During World War II
Sunriver is one of the region’s oldest and most beloved destination resorts. Since the late 1960s, Oregon families have made memories here, riding bikes to the general store, learning to golf on the courses and swimming in the river and the resort’s pools.
The Central Oregon Adventure 6-Pack
6 ADVENTURES…1 DAY….A LIFETIME OF MEMORIES. “You should do it,” they said. “Think about how cool it’d be,” they told me. “You get to do it during the work day, ya know,” they reminded me. So I said yes.
Lava Lands Visitor Center a Central Oregon Geologic Gem
In the late 1960s NASA looked for a place to send astronauts who were training for a mission that would change the world. But before the mission could happen, NASA needed a place to mimic what they believed those astronauts would find on the surface of the moon. Because, after all, nobody had been there before so nobody really knew what the surface of the moon was like.
Outward Bound in the City: Central Oregon’s 5 Best Urban Hikes
Hiking in Central Oregon can take you deep into the wilderness, far away from worry and stress. But sometimes all you need is a quick break from reality…just a half hour or so outside in nature, on a trail, alone with your thoughts (or with your dog, husband and two kids.) There are hundreds of hikes and trails available in and around Bend, Oregon and Sunriver, Oregon. These “Urban Hikes” are the perfect remedy to slow down our all-too-busy lives.
Central Oregon Hiking Trails
Head east on Highway 20 (Greenwood Avenue) to the Pilot Butte State Park. The parking area and trailhead are just east of the butte. Walk on either the nature trail or the paved road. The road is also for vehicle traffic, weather permitting. It is a wonderful viewpoint for the entire Bend area. This hiking trail is one of the most popular in Central Oregon.
Scenic Bikeways Showcase Central Oregon’s Backroad Beauty
Oregon’s official scenic bikeways are the first of their kind in the U.S – and Central Oregon is home to 6 of the state’s 11 most beautiful bike routes. An absolute summer must for road cyclists are riding the best of the best – our scenic bikeways. Every rider can find a ride to suit their style and mood, from family-friendly to adventurous.
Newport Market Mural-a Tribute to the Spirit of Bend
A picture is worth a thousand words. But the new hand-painted mural outside Bend’s Newport Avenue Market will be worth a million smiles.
Central Oregon Winter Adventures
WHEN THE SNOW FLIES, CENTRAL OREGON SHINES. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS CHOOSE YOUR ADVENTURE.
Hiking Black Butte – Central Oregon’s Iconic & Majestic Cinder Cone
From a distance, Black Butte looks like it doesn’t quite match the picturesque alpine mountains that surround it. The volcanic rock that emerges above the tree line gives the impression of a hill constructed with loose stones that was carelessly dropped in the middle of the woods. Unlike the Cascades that puncture the horizon to the west and north, Black Butte can be hiked and enjoyed in under four hours.