Located in the stunning Deschutes National Forest, the Newberry National Volcanic Monument has everything you need for an adventure-filled trip. Home to the largest volcano in the Cascades and some beautiful lakes, you can’t go wrong with these beautiful surroundings.
The Newberry National Volcanic Monument can be found just a short distance from Bend, yet, despite being so close to civilization, it remains relatively uncrowded for most of the year.
It is split into three distinct areas, the Lava Cast, the Lava Lands, and the Newberry Caldera Area, all of which are well worth exploring and have their own unique sights and outdoor activities.
Newberry National Volcanic Monument
Trails in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument
Paulina Lake Loop Trail
7.8 miles, easy, loop
Paulina Lake is one of the most stunning lakes in Oregon, and the good news for hikers is that there is a 7.8-mile loop that will take you around the entire lake so that you won’t miss an inch of its beauty.
Although hiking the whole trail is definitely advisable, if you are short on time then some of the best parts of the trail can be found heading northward from Little Crater Campground.
Walking the trail, you’ll get some incredible views of the lake, the caldera, and you’ll even get a chance to soak in a hot spring. The track is mostly dirt, although be aware that there are some rocky areas. Every mile will take you into a seemingly different landscape.
Paulina Lake Hot Springs via Paulina Lakeshore Trail
2.8 miles, easy, out and back
It doesn’t get much better than a great hike with beautiful hot springs at the end. That is exactly what you’ll get with the Paulina Lake Hot Springs hike via the lakeshore.
If you do the loop mentioned above, you’ll be on the right path to reach this hot spring. You’ll get some stunning lake views, fields full of wildflowers, and thickly forested areas. Once at the end of the hike, reward yourself with a dip in the warm waters of the springs.
Note, when we say warm, we mean warm, not necessarily hot. The small and primitive springs here are often around 95 degrees. It’s best to visit them in the spring and summer.
Peter Skene Ogden Trail
22.3 miles, moderate, out and back
If you are up for a bit of a challenge and a longer hike, then the Peter Skene Ogden Trail might be just what you are after. Several trailheads are available to customize a hike that is perfect for your ability and time scale.
For the most part, the trail follows the beautiful Paulina Creek through a tall pine forest. As you walk, the creek gets more turbulent before turning into a seething mass of white water with some stunning waterfalls. The many viewpoints of the falls are right there on the trail, so you won’t even have to stray from the path.
McKay Waterfall near McKay Campground is definitely worth seeing and requires just a short side trail to see it in all its glory. About 1.5 miles past McKay, there is an incredible natural water slide that is popular in the summer months.
Many other falls can be seen from the trail, including the two cascades of Paulina Falls, which cascade down onto the rocks below.
Big Obsidian Flow
0.6 miles, easy, loop
This short but unique hike is well worth a short stop. It will take you through an obsidian lava flow right below Paulina Peak in the Newberry Crater. There are interpretive signs along the way that will help you learn more about the area’s history.
The terrain is made up of abrasive volcanic glass, so make sure you are wearing suitable footwear.
The Big Obsidian Flow is the volcano’s most recent eruption that happened around 1300 years ago. It offers an incredible insight into the region’s geology and history, with some incredible sights to see along the way of the rest of the caldera.
6.1 miles, hard, out and back
Paulina Peak is easily visible from the lakeshore, as it is the high point on the Caldera Rim.
Start this difficult trail at the Paulina Lake Trailhead and make your way up through the many conifer trees to the summit area. After climbing up past a forest of white fir, lodgepole pines, and mountain hemlock, you’ll emerge from the treeline and head to the top of the largest volcano in Oregon.
On a clear day, standing at 7989 feet, you will be able to see some of the most incredible views of Oregon, around a quarter of the entire state. Keep your eyes peeled for the Cascade Range and even Mount Adams in Washington and Mount Shasta in California.
Other Activities at the Newberry National Volcanic Monument
Ten Mile Sno-Park
Although much of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument is closed and inaccessible during the winter months, that doesn’t mean the outdoor adventures have to stop. Ten Mile Sno-Park is the ideal location for winter sports, with access to both motorized and non-motorized recreational activities.
There is so much to do in the park, including some of the best cross-country skiing or snowshoeing trails in the state.
Fishing and Boating
The lake’s deep, cool waters offer a huge abundance of diverse fish species, enough to please any keen angler. The lake is known for its world-class fishing and holds two of the state records for German Brown Trout. In addition to Brown Trout, the lake also contains Kokanee Salmon and Rainbow Trout.
The lake is open to fishing all year round, although winter does not loosen its grip until late spring or early summer.
If you don’t fancy trying your hand at fishing, there is nothing more relaxing than heading out on a boat and exploring the shores from a very different viewpoint.
If you don’t have your own craft, the Paulina Lake Lodge has plenty of rentals to accommodate different party sizes. There are small motorboats, pontoon boats for family days out, pedalos, and patio boats for a bit of fun.
Kaying and SUPing on East Lake and Paulina Lake
Paulina Lake and East Lake are the two biggest lakes in the area, created by volcanic activity. Paulina is the larger and deeper of the two, and both offer great water fun opportunities.
They are perfect for kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddleboarding as there is a speed limit of 10 mph on the lake, so you won’t have people whizzing past you as you take in the stunning landscape that surrounds you.
You can hire watercraft in the area if you don’t have your own and explore the shoreline and waters at your leisure.
Mountain Bike Crater Rim Trail
It is not just hiking that is a popular way to explore Newberry National Volcanic Monument. It is a great place to bring a bike, with one of the most exciting trails being the Crater Rim Trail. This trail starts at the Paulia Lake Trailhead and circles the huge caldera. The trail will, if heading counter-clockwise, take you on a climb towards Paulina Peak.
As you near the summit, the path veers off and is then a combination of single track and winter snow-mobile routes. If you are a sucker for views, you can get a bonus view by riding past the trail junction to the summit, where you can enjoy incredible views of the surrounding area, including Paulina Lake and the Cascade Range.
After heading back down, the trail begins to steadily climb again as you head to the Upper Rim of East Lake. Here, you will be greeted with even more incredible views.
As the Crater Rim is pretty high at 6,300 feet, it can stay covered in snow well into the summer months, so bikers tend to find the best time to bike the trail is in early fall.
Caves Near the Newberry National Volcanic Monument
Head into the dark side of Central Oregon by exploring some of the many caves in the region. As the area is very volcanic, many caves have been created alongside the other geological oddities formed from the molten lava flow.
Boyd Cave is a lava tube that is estimated to be formed around 10,000 years ago. This large cave is roughly 1,880 feet long and is one of the easiest caves to visit in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument as it is open all year round. The cave floor is also relatively flat, and there is a ladder heading down to it.
Once you’ve taken the steel staircase down into the chilly underground through the small oculus in the cave’s ceiling, you’ll be in awe of the incredible pahoehoe formations and dynamic basalt. Although it is one of the easiest caves in the region to explore, you should still allow for at least some rocky scrambling.
Although there is a steep climb down to the bottom of this cave, it is pretty incredible to witness and makes for a remarkable visit for the more adventurous explorer.
In a maze of sagebrush and ponderosa pines, you’ll find the volcanic underground tunnel of Arnold Cave. The cave was created by a basalt lava flow about 80,000 years ago on the northern slopes of the Newberry Volcano.
What makes this cave stand out is that it is full of ice as groundwater seeps up from the cave floor. It is not unusual to see hundreds of ice stalactites scattered across the ground. The cave is part of the Arnold Cave system, of which there are 19 caves in total.
Hidden Forest Cave
You’ll find this hidden cave just beyond Arnold Ice Cave, and it is pretty magical in itself. It is well worth visiting when in the area, especially as it is only around 10 minutes from Arnold Cave.
Follow the thin slither of light at the back of the cave to find the hidden forest!
Skeleton Caves should definitely be explored, but to do so, you need to go with Wanderlust Tours as they hold the permit for visiting. The company will provide you with a helmet, a headlamp, and a knowledgeable guide, and you’ll be off on an exhilarating underground adventure.
The cave is huge at nearly 2900 feet long and drops 100 feet. It got its name from the various animal bones found in the cave over a century ago.
Lava River Cave
The Lava River Cave is a mile in length and it will take you about an hour to visit this lava tube. It is consistently 42 degrees within its rocky interior, so be prepared for the cold. You can head out on a mile long, self-guided expedition to explore the cave via a series of 55 steps down.
The route is a combination of the flat boardwalk, stairs, and uneven floors. Be sure to read about the safety precautions before entering the cave to protect the bats living inside.
Cabins & Campsites Near Paulina Lake
Luckily there are plenty of campsites nearby and if you’re in need of some more comforts, we have a few cabin options nearby too.
Paulina Lake Campground
Paulina Lake Campground is about as close as you can get to the lake. It is situated right on the lake shores, with plenty of excellent sites that cater to all types of camping, from a small tent to large RVs. The campsite has lots of different facilities, including shoreline trails, a picnic area, drinking water, flush toilets, and more.
Although it is a well-equipped campground, the biggest draw is the views of the lake, meaning you can enjoy the wonders of nature while still having the comfort of home.
McKay Crossing Campground
This is ideal if you are looking for a primitive camping experience that is known for its seclusion and beauty. It is a little off the beaten path along Paulina Creek, and if you stay here you will wake to the sounds of the trickling water.
This campground is open from May to October and has a vault toilet available to campers.
Another great campground located on the shores of Paulina Creek is Prairie Campground, giving you immediate access to the huge range of recreational activities available in the area. All of the sites are large and secluded, with picnic tables for al fresco dining at every site.
Milky Way Log Cabin
For a touch more luxury, stay at this cozy cabin in the woods. Located in Sunriver, this historic cabin is only a short drive from Newberry National Volcanic Monument.
Cozy A-Frame Cabin
This cozy A-Frame cabin sleeps six and is within walking distance of the town center of Sunriver. Best of all, there is a hot tub on the back deck, perfect after a day of exploring Newberry National Volcanic Monument.
Oregon native, photographer, videographer, adventurer.