Newberry Caldera and Volcanic National Monument

As we drive up the winding access road to the two lakes situated inside the Newberry Caldera, it’s hard to believe that far beneath the thick pine forest, trees swaying in the warm breezes and gently rippling pristine blue water of the lakes, a seething geothermal giant lies in fretful slumber. It’s restless presence has the USGS keeping a close eye on the needles of their metering equipment!

The Newberry caldera sits atop a large and potentially active volcano located about 20 miles southeast of Bend, Oregon, within the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

The ride up through the national park is amazing! The volcano is roughly 25 miles in diameter and has a large oval-shaped caldera 4 by 5 miles in diameter, called the Newberry Caldera.

Our first stop to the top is Paulina Lake Falls, originating from the larger of the two lakes. There’s ample parking and the hiking trail is relatively short and well marked. It’s definitely worth the trek in!

Within the caldera there are two lakes (Paulina Lake and East Lake) and many lava flows, and towering domes of glittering black obsidian rock. The edges of obsidian glass in the lava flow can be as sharp as a scalpel and was prized for use in arrow heads by native Americans in the region.

During the Apollo program, parts of the volcano that resemble the Moon’s surface were used to train the astronauts. There is new growth in the lava flows however and demonstrates the persistence of life even in the most spartan conditions!

The Lava Flow area is easily accessible right off the main access road around the caldera.

Hiking up to the top of the lava flow is challenging and in spots it’s slippery due to a number of snow patches. But we managed it just fine.

Michele on bench Newberry Obsidian Flow

And speaking of life, we encountered a pretty lively chipmunk who was pretty bold and obviously angling for a hand-out!

Don’t worry, we were tempted but decided not to offer him anything we were carrying as it wasn’t fit for wildlife…come to think of it, it probably wasn’t that fit for us tame-life either.

It’s been a great day for hiking and seeing the fantastic National Park area of Newberry Volcanic Monument.

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