Friday, July 31, 2015

Newberry National Volcanic Monument


I made an error in my last post that I have now corrected. When we stopped on our drive to our current campground at Prineville Recreation Area on July 27, and visited the Lava Lands Visitor Center, I did not fully understand the extent of the National Monument. The place is correctly called Newberry National Volcanic Monument. We stopped at the edge of what is a large area about the size of the state of Rhode Island. The Newberry Caldera is a series of volcanic features including close to 400 cinder cones. There has been activity including a major eruption within the past 1300 years in this area.


You can see a number of different types of features. On July 30, we drove the 1.5 hours back through Bend to fully explore the area. The only problem with this day was that the predicted high temperature was going to be around 100 degrees. Perfect day to go see a volcano. We started back at the visitor center and talked to a ranger that gave us a better understanding of what we should go see while we were there.

We started by taking a walk through the lava field. This lava came from the eruption of Cinder Cone that is right behind the visitor center.



The formations and the few plants that eek out a living in this harsh environment are very interesting. There are lava tubes and river and Lava Balls. The balls are formed just like a snowball rolling downhill gathering snow or in this case rocks and other debris as it goes.


We then rode the shuttle bus to the top of the Cinder Cone. They have an fire observation tower up there. We could see all the way to Crater Lake and California.



The views of the distant mountains was very cool. You could see almost all of the mountains in Oregon. Here is Mt. Bachelor and the three sisters.


We took a walk around the cone. Here is a shot looking back at the fire tower:


This is a shot of the cinder cone from the lava bed.


After doing all of that we were pretty hot. They have a lava tube cave that you can go explore. The best part is that it is 42 degrees in the cave. It was wonderful.


The walk was about a mile, but we decided to cut that short because our lighting was not as good as it should have been. Here is the entrance.


We had a picnic lunch and then drove the 30 miles to the Newberry Caldera. First we stopped at Paulina Falls. This is a very nice falls.



Then we went to the Big Obsidian Flow. This was the result of an eruption 1300 years ago. We took a very warm 1 mile hike out through the flow. Obsidian is black glass made from cooling lava. It is beautiful!



It was huge and went on for miles.


At the top of the hike was a nice view of the caldera.


The area is very interesting and there are a few campgrounds and the lakes are good for fishing and camping.


I really was not aware of the amount of volcanic features that dominate the topography of central Oregon. Everywhere you go you see rock outcroppings and other interesting features that are obviously caused by volcanic activity.

We have done some other exploring of this area and I will document that in a future entry. I hope you found this as interesting as we did. I guess I always question why something looks the way it does.

Be inquisitive, you never know what you might find out.

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