South of Bend and Sunriver, geologic wonders abound. The area’s largest town, La Pine, is a sparsely populated community cloaked in pines that goes by the apt slogan, “Small Town Strong.”
The Newberry Crater in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument is a must-see natural wonder. The obsidian flows, vents, pumice cones, and hidden pockets of magma continue to fascinate geologists and adventurers. When this shield volcano’s massive dome first collapsed around 500,000 years ago, what remained was the spectacular caldera we see today.
From atop Paulina Peak (7,985 feet), you can witness thousands of acres of volcanic landscape with beautiful lakes (Paulina and East) and large lava fields, such as the Big Obsidian Flow. This ocean of lava was used by NASA astronauts in the 1960s to simulate the surface of the moon.
Olympic decathlon gold medalist Ashton Eaton is from the small town of La Pine, Central Oregon’s southernmost town. La Pine is Central Oregon’s last big secret, where pine trees and large land plots reign.
Sample Fall Itinerary:
After the constant buzz of summer, fall in Central Oregon’s outdoors is a real opportunity to get back to nature. In southern Deschutes County, especially in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, you’ll find no shortage of beautiful views and chances for adventure.
La Pine is a no-frills town that only officially became a city a decade ago, but has been a center of life for rural Deschutes County for a long time. Here, you’ll be able to find all the necessities for outdoor opportunities farther afield.
At La Pine State Park, you’ll be surrounded by forests — there are cabins and camping sites, and it’s located right on the Upper Deschutes River, a perfect opportunity to try your hand at fly-fishing. The park also features Oregon’s largest ponderosa pine, estimated to be more than 500 years old.
In the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, two lakes will be the centerpiece of your activities. East Lake and Paulina Lake sit in the Newberry caldera. Plan to spend some time at East Lake Resort, a remote spot with cabins and tent sites that’s particularly popular with fishing enthusiasts. It’s a great place to rent a kayak or a small boat and light out on the water. If you’re there after the high season, the Blue Duck Grill may not be open, so bring picnic supplies and find a nice spot by the lake.
At neighboring Paulina Lake, you’ll find Paulina Lake Lodge, another good home base for adventuring in the monument.
From here, you can access Paulina Creek Falls, a beautiful plunging waterfall. Or head to the hot springs at Paulina Lake — five small pools on the sandy beach of the lake accessible either by boat or by hiking via several trails.
Other nearby options include exploring the Big Obsidian Flow, easily accessed by a 1-mile interpretive trail, and the lava fields nearby, which can be explored on your own or by hiring an ATV tour.
To get a sense of the entire monument, you can also climb up Paulina Peak, the top of the volcano. You’ll marvel at the vast expanse of volcanic lands right here in Central Oregon. All of it will have you feeling like you’re on another planet entirely — it’s truly different from anything you’ve ever seen.