Hike-in Required
ADA accessible
Guided tours
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There are two big holes along Highway 31 in Central Oregon: Big Hole and Hole-in-the-Ground. Both are maars, or craters left behind by volcanic steam explosions. If you've only got time to see one maar on your drive across the state, choose Hole-in-the-Ground. It's located just a few miles off the main road. And, from the parking area, you can see the entire circumference of the giant crater. Low shrubs and pockets of trees dot the interior of the crater, but its shape is unmistakable. Big Hole, in contrast, is shrouded by tall, thick trees that hide the overall shape of the landscape.

Hole-in-the-Ground is about a mile wide and 400 feet deep. One trail encircles the crater and two others plunge down into the center of the hole. Although it looks strikingly similar to a meteor impact crater, it is one of many signs of the area's rich volcanic history. Walk around the edge of the crater to get a panoramic view from all sides. Or, wander down into the crater to gain a new perspective. Chances are you'll have the place to yourself.

The crater is accessible year-round, as long as the roads to the rim are not blocked by snow. 

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Not Required


Unique viewpoint.


Some forest road navigation required.

Pets allowed



Big vistas
Geologically significant



We drove up to Hole in the Ground this weekend. Although it was amazing-I love the geological uniqueness of Central Oregon-take caution on the road there if you do not have a four wheel drive vehicle. I have a minivan and bottomed out pretty hard on some of the rocks on the road. That was the only con!
The hike down was easy. The road we walked looked like it was used by motorcyclists. The bottom of the crater was cool.
We decided to hike up the opposite side we came down. Its the trail with the large tree at the bottom. The trail was steep, dusty and hard! But we loved it!
I definitely want to take my kids there to experience this Oregon wonder.
NOTE: Although the description says it's open year around, we were just out there a week or so ago and the road to the crate rim is clearly posted closed to vehicles Nov.-March. As such, it would be at least a 2-3 mile trek to the rim if you payed attention to such signs.
We just drove up this morning on a whim. What a great surprise! Outdoor Project lists the Forest Service access road as a "Con", but we loved the drive up. It's only 5 miles of dirt road, well maintained, and you are driving thru beautiful older growth forest. As you near the crater, you see the hill rising off to the left which is easily identified as the blast berm of the crater. When you reach the top of the road and see the crater, it is much larger than expected and very scenic. Great hike around the rim and down into the crater.
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