Newberry National Volcanic Monument Celebrates 25th Anniversary
1990 – 2015
Ninety-eight percent of the world’s volcanic features are found in Oregon throughout Newberry National Volcanic Monument. The Monument includes Lava River Cave, Lava Cast Forest, and Newberry Volcano with its Big Obsidian Flow.
Seven miles south from Bend on Highway 97, Lava Lands Visitor Center sits at the base of 500-foot Lava Butte Cinder Cone. Inside the Visitor Center (open the end of May through September), see a 5-foot by 9-foot scale model 3-D topographic map of the area, geology and archaeology displays, historical exhibits, and educational materials in the bookstore.
Outside, listen to an informative talk about lava lands.
Hike the Trail of Molten Land, a paved, one-mile loop over landscape similar to that on the moon. Interpretive signs assist your self-guided walk.
Follow the Trail of the Whispering Pines one-third mile through ponderosa and lodgepole. Inhale the spicy fragrance of white, spring blossoms of snowbrush (ceonothus velutinus), also known as “sticky laurel” and “mountain balm”. Native Americans made soap from the flowers and fruit and astringent from the bark and roots.
Pink, urn-shaped clusters of flowers bloom in late spring on the green-leaf manzanita. Natives made juice from the berries and ground seeds into flour.
Bitterbrush is a favorite food of deer, elk, and antelope. Its yellow flowers in spring fill the air with a sweet fragrance Natives made violet dye from the ripe seed coats.
Black Rock Trail mountain bikers ride a portion of the J.P. Huntington Trail constructed by the Superintendent of Indian Affairs in 1867. This cattle and wagon route from The Dalles to Fort Klamath paralleled the impassable lava flow.
Drive the spiral road to the top of 5,000-foot Lava Butte. Walk the quarter-mile interpretive trail around the summit. A 360-degree view unfolds of the Cascade Range, including Mt. Bachelor, Broken Top, the Three Sisters, and Mt. Jefferson; nine square miles of lava flow; 400 cinder cones dotting the basin, and Newberry Volcano.
Newberry is named for Doctor John S. Newberry, a physician and naturalist with the Pacific Railroad Survey through central Oregon in 1855.
Follow the road exiting Lava Lands Visitor Center under Highway 97 through the wildlife passage underpass. The first in Oregon, it is landscaped with native plants, boulders and logs to encourage wildlife to safely cross their summer-winter migration route under the busy Highway 97 corridor. A second underpass, for wildlife only, is located two and a half miles south. Four miles of wire fencing line each side of Highway 97 between Lava Lands and South Century Drive to help funnel animals to the passageways.
Next week we’ll visit Lava River Cave.