Posts Tagged With: volcano

Islands in the Lava? – Lava Lands Visitor Center, Bend, Oregon

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“Islands” of trees in the lava

Lava Lands Visitor Center is located about eight miles south of Bend, Oregon on Hwy. 97. There is a very small interpretive center, bookstore, trails, restrooms and picnic tables. The site is set up for visitors to Central Oregon to learn all about the volcanic history of the area known as the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

Lava Butte is the focal point of this spot. The lava flow from this butte spreads out over nine miles in this area. There are “islands” of trees in the flow. “Islands” is the term the locals use. When we first arrived there was a fire from lightening and the news kept reporting that the fire was in an island in the lava flow. We wondered what that meant and finally found out when we visited the site.

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More “islands”

To see this spectacular scene you can either walk one of the trails up to the top of Lava Butte or drive up in a car. There are only 10 parking spots, so when you enter the lower facility you are given a time slot and told where to park and wait. Then when it’s your turn you can start driving up to the butte (there is no cost for this part). It’s actually quite close and doesn’t seem very tall, at only 500 feet. The drive up is unique as it follows a beautiful red lava rock road that first weaves through a lava bed, then spirals up the hill.

Road up to top of the butte

Road up to top of the butte

Once parked in the parking lot, you can take a short, but rather steep walk up to the working Forest Service lookout. Inside the bottom floor of the lookout are displays on the walls above each window explaining each geologic feature you are seeing out that particular window. That’s when I realized there are a heck of a lot of buttes and mountains around there!

The views up here there are amazing! For such a short butte, you can see very far.

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Amazing views!

There are two trails – The Trail of Molten Land and the Trail of the Whispering Pines – where you can take a leisurely stroll through the area, enjoying more views and looking for critters. What great names for trails!

Nothing cuter than critters!

Can’t resist the critters!

David enjoyed the walk on the trail.

David enjoyed the walk on the trail. Notice the lookout behind him.

After checking out the butte and the trails, you really need to stop in the visitor center and see the educational and interesting displays. There are four different short movies shown during the day that explain the different volcanic processes so they are worth seeing in order to learn more.

Lava Lands Visitor Center is a quick stop to visit while in the Central Oregon area, but an important stop that will help you understand the geology you are seeing. When you learn the story of how the landscape was created through such violent earth processes, you can’t help but view it in a different light and appreciation.

Lava Lands Visitor Center is a Forest Service Fee site so it costs $5 for the day or the $30 annual pass is valid there.

Lava Lands Visitor Center
58201 South Hwy. 97
Bend, OR 97707
(541) 593-2421

 

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Categories: Keatons Out and About, Oregon, Outdoors, Parks | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Paulina Lake and Paulina Peak – Central Oregon

Central Oregon is one of my favorite places. There is so much to see and do there. So I had to make a decision on what to write about first. Since the picture on our home page is taken from Paulina Peak, I decided to start with Paulina Lake and Paulina Peak.

Paulina Lake

Paulina Lake

Located about 24 miles south and a little east of Bend, is the beautiful Paulina Lake. The lake, along with East Lake just east of Paulina, is part of the 55,000 acre Newberry National Volcanic Monument, a protected area, so nothing can be built there. However, Paulina Lake Lodge, located on the shores of the lake, was grandfathered in as it was built in 1948 long before the 1990 designation of the monument. You can rent rustic cabins, rent boats, dine in the restaurant that has rather strange hours or peruse the little store with pictures of all the huge fish everyone except us seem to catch.

When you arrive at Paulina Lake take the time to get out and check it out. It is a crystal clear blue lake that, if you get there early enough, is flat and smooth as glass, reflecting the surrounding hills like a mirror. Sometimes so many baby fish are jumping around they look like grasshoppers. It’s a serene lake to kayak on as well, allowing you to paddle out into the middle of it and just enjoy the solitude and the beauty of the area.

View from Paulina Peak

View from Paulina Peak

After you have rested, relaxed, and cleared you mind, it’s now time to drive up to Paulina Peak. Just back about a mile west from the lake is the road. It’s clearly marked. You’ll drive four miles up a washboard road, getting higher and higher, seeing farther and farther, until you come out at the top in a parking lot. You are now at 7985 feet. Step out and take a look to the north. There you will see Paulina Lake and looking down at it you won’t be able to believe you were just that far below.

The Big Obsidian Flow

The Big Obsidian Flow

Off to the east you can see  a true natural marvel – the Big Obsidian Flow. It is estimated the eruption happened about 1300 years ago and covers a little over 2 and ½ miles. What you are seeing is the flow of lava that contained just the right minerals to turn into obsidian (sometimes known as volcanic glass).

Top of Paulina Peak

Top of Paulina Peak

You can take an easy, short hike up to another lookout point and see a breath-taking 360 degree view. We like to say you can see yesterday and tomorrow. There are a few more easy trails that take you out to the east a little ways so you can view the area from there as well. Again, like the lake, you can just sit and listen to nature and be awed by the majesty of the volcanic activity that happened 75,000 years ago. The dark blue of the lakes, the deep green of the surrounding forests, the sheer size of the obsidian flow, and the cloudless blue sky, combine to create a natural postcard that could never be artificially duplicated.

So next time you are in Central Oregon, even if only for a short time, check out the Paulina Lake and Paulina Peak area. I think you will find it will be one of your favorite places as well.

Getting there: From Bend go 24 miles south on Hwy. 97. Turn left onto Paulina Lake Road, signs are also there for the Newberry Caldera. Go about 11 miles to the entrance to the park ($5 fee or Northwest Forest Pass.) About one mile farther will take you to the road to Paulina Peak. It will be on your right. The road to Paulina Lake is a little further on, look for the signs, it will be on your left.

Categories: Oregon, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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