Are you a volcano and igneous rock freak like me? Well perhaps a visit to the Newberry National Volcanic Monument located south of Bend in Central Oregon should be in your future. So grab your CamelBak, other Hydration Pack or Hydro flask, check out these hiking tips, and get ready for some beautiful volcanic scenery, and some beautiful waterfalls and lakes.
The Newberry National Volcanic Monument was created within the boundaries of Deschutes National Forest in 1990, and the monument gives visitors fantastic views of the Lava Lands of Central Oregon.
There are over 50,000 acres of lakes, lava flows, and magnificent geologic features for those who are fascinated by volcanoes, lava flows, igneous rocks and beautiful forests like me.
Newberry National Volcanic Monument hiking trails
- Lava Cast Forest in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument
- Lava Lands Visitor Center south of Bend, Oregon
- Hike to the top of Paulina Peak for fantastic views of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument
Photo Gallery of Paulina Falls and Paulina Peak Overlook
If you visit the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, Paulina Lakes area, you are driving through what is actually a 17 square mile caldera at the summit of a 500 square mile volcano. Oh, and did I mention that the volcano still remains very active?
Yup. The Newberry National Volcanic National Monument area is still very seismically and geothermally active, and geologists believe the caldera sits over a very shallow magma body that is only 2 to 5 kilometers deep. When you visit the area you will see a lot of cinder cones, several miles of basalt flows, as well as rhyolitic lava flows known as obsidian flows.
Photo Gallery of Newberry National Volcanic Monument In Central Oregon
Since obsidian is one of my favorite rocks, we made sure to hike the Big Obsidian Flow, which is actually one of the youngest volcanic features at the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.
The Big Obsidian Flow is made of three different types of rock; white pumice, gray pumice and obsidian. From the highest point on the trail you can see Paulina Peak, Paulina Lake, East Lake, and the rim of the Newberry Crater.
The trail consists of a loop that is only 1 mile long round-trip, and there are benches scattered throughout if you need a short rest, and there are lots of informational plaques to give you information on the different types of rocks, and other interesting facts.
On our first visit we drove into the area and stopped first at Paulina Lake, East Lake, and then stopped at the Big Obsidian Flow, and ended our day by visiting the Paulina Creek Falls.
During a more recent visit we located the Lower Paulina falls near the McKay Crossing campground, Paulina Creek Falls, and we took a drive up to the Paulina Peak Overlook. I was expecting a rough dirt road to the top, but it was paved part of the way, and the dirt section was very well maintained. We went in late June and the road was open, but if it is a snowy winter, the road to the peak sometimes opens later in the season.
If you are looking to see some beautiful landscapes, and some of the best volcanic features in Central Oregon, you just might want to visit the Newberry National Volcanic National Monument, you will not be disappointed.
Oh, and if like me you were wondering, Paulina Creek, Lake, Peak and a number of other geographical features in the Newberry National Volcanic National Monument were named for Paulina (pronounced Pa-LINE-uh), a well-known Indian chief. Chief Paulina was known for the swiftness of his attacks and his ability to evade capture by both volunteer regiments and U.S. Army detachments under General George Crook.
During the late 1850s and 1860s, Northern Paiute bands attacked both settler communities and Native American reservations in central and eastern Oregon, as well as the Klamath Basin. Chief Paulina became the most notorious war leader in those raids.
The Snake War (1864–1868) was a war fought by the United States of America against the “Snake Indians”, the settlers’ term for Northern Paiute, Bannock and Western Shoshone bands who lived along the Snake River.
Fighting took place in the states of Oregon, Nevada, and California, and in Idaho Territory. Total casualties from both sides of the conflict numbered 1,762 dead, wounded, or captured. Probably the most well-known Indian leader was Chief Paulina.
But it is safe to go to the area now …
Big Obsidian Flow hike
A loop hike on the Big Obsidian Flow.
Short hike to Paulina Falls
Here is a map of the trail that takes you to a fantastic view of Paulina Falls
Paulina Lake, East Lake, Drive up Paulina Peak
Below is a GPS track of the area, including the drive from Bend, Oregon, and a trip to McKay Crossing campground to see the lower Paulina Falls, Paulina Creek Falls, and a drive up to the Paulina Peak Overlook.
View Paulina Lake, East Lake, Big Obsidian Flow in a larger map