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.
PLAY on fields of obsidian and climb to the rim of the Newberry Caldera to take in the twenty-five-mile diameter of the volcano. Feel the mist from Paulina Creek Falls on your skin. In winter, glide across the snow-covered terrain on cross-country skis or snowmobiles. Explore the caves, trails and natural wonders in Fort Rock State Park.
SOAK in the small, natural hot springs at East Lake and neighboring Paulina Lake or take out a boat with your fishing rod and tackle box. The lakes are home to rainbow and brown trout, as well as kokanee salmon.