Tyson Gillard | 07.17.2013

One of the Northwest’s greatest undiscovered gems, Newberry National Volcanic Monument encompasses 55,500 acres in central Oregon's high desert and is an absolute geological wonder.  The Monument was dedicated in 1990 to protect Newberry Volcano, a relatively low-lying yet massive shield volcano that is a part of the Cascade Volcanic Arc's eastern arc.*  The monument boasts one of the largest concentrations of cinder cones, lava flows and fissures in the world.  The area also includes Oregon's longest cave, Lava River Cave.

Like Crater Lake, the Newberry Volcano is marked by a depressed caldera roughly 5 miles in diameter; unlike the lake formation in Crater Lake National Park, however, Newberry's caldera contains two distinct lakes: Paulina Lake and East Lake.  At 80 cubic miles, Newberry Volcano is one of the most voluminous mountains in the Cascade Volcanic Arc and by far the largest in Oregon.  Newberry ranks fifth in volume in the entire Cascade Volcanic Arc; at an estimated 140 cubic miles, the Medicine Lake shield volcano east of Mount Shasta has the largest volume.  Mount Shasta, Mount Adams, and Mount Rainier are all roughly 85 cubic miles. Unlike the taller stratovolcanos, Newberry's highest point, Paulina Peak, is only 7,989 feet.

As for a visit to the monument, outdoor enthusiasts and their families will appreciate the diversity of attractions.  Visitors can journey through the 1-mile long Lava River Cave, tour the ancient Lava Cast Forest, boat on either of the caldera's two opal lakes, or soak in one of several natural hot springs. For more activity, hike to the top of Paulina Peak and mountain bike down, enjoy the stunning cascades of Paulina Falls and Paulina Creek, or walk through the caldera's distinctive obsidian flow.  As night falls there are plenty of places to relax, so pitch a tent and rest your head.  The monument is home to two rustic resorts as well as six well-maintained campgrounds.

* The eastern arc is a series of shield volcanoes roughly 30 to 50 miles east of the Cascade's main range, and it includes other notable volcanoes such as Yamsay Mountain to the south, Medicine Lake Volcano in northern California, and Simcoe Mountain east of Mount Adams in Washington.


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