This is the second and last post in our series about exploring Central Oregon’s Lava Lands.
In the previous post, I shared a bit about the journey to Central Oregon, plus our adventure in the Lava River Caves. Let’s see what else we discovered in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument!
Lava Butte is a cinder cone – classified as the smallest type of volcano – that rises 500 feet above the Lava Lands Visitor Center south of Bend. Anyone can take the steep, paved walk up Lava Butte, but since there are only 10 parking spots at the top, drivers must be issued a ticket from a booth at the entrance of the Visitor Center parking lot, and wait for their assigned 30-minute window. When we visited, there was already a long line of cars at the booth, so anticipate a possible wait to get your assigned time.
While you’re waiting to go up Lava Butte, you can enjoy trails around the Visitor Center, have a picnic lunch at the benches, or check out the 3D topographical map, interpretive exhibits, bookstore, films, and ranger talks. *Note: though the parking lot at the Visitor Center is open year-round, the buildings, ticket booth, and access to Lava Butte are closed between mid-October to May.
Once you get to the top of Lava Butte, the views of the nearby lava fields, forest, and other mountain peaks are spectacular.
(click either of the two photos above for larger panoramas)
Paulina Falls & Paulina Lake
Lava Butte and Lava River Caves are both just along Hwy 97 south of Bend. To get to Paulina Falls, you need to head ever farther south, then drive more than 12 miles east on the remote Paulina Lake Road/County Road 21.
My girls and I decided we were up for the adventure, and were glad to find the easy access to view Paulina Falls. It’s a lovely twin fall that plunges 80 feet or so from Paulina Creek.
We decided to continue on Paulina Lake Road/County Road 21 until it ended at Paulina Lake, in the Newberry Crater, and the Paulina Lake Lodge.
Paulina Lake Lodge is a rustic, get-away-from-it-all spot in the incredibly scenic middle of nowhere. Aside from the employees on-site, we saw very few people and felt like we were having a unique experience. Of course, we felt a little out of place in our minivan amid what was quite obviously a hard-core outdoorsman’s paradise, but the people we encountered were friendly and welcoming.
We decided to try our luck at the tiny restaurant at Paulina Lake Lodge, and proceeded to have one of the best lunches ever. The food was phenomenal, and the menu surprisingly diverse.
Choose Your Own Adventure
We had an amazing weekend exploring Central Oregon’s Lava Lands, and look forward to going back to see and do even more!
If you’d like to get an inside look at the locations I’ve mentioned here, check out this video from Travel Oregon featuring Grant McOmie (a state treasure when it comes to exploring our back yard). Central Oregon’s Lava Lands and Newberry National Volcanic Monument are a great example of all there is to love about this state!