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May 30, 2023
I love Central Oregon. I love the drive over the pass. I love passing through Sisters. And I love watching the landscape change as the big, dense forest is replaced by sparse ponderosa pines.
Lava Butte is part of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. It is within the Deschutes National Forest and encompasses 54,000+ acres where you can visit lakes and lava flows and view amazing geological features.
This popular destination can get really busy during the Summer. The peak visitor's season starts in Mid-June and lasts until Labor Day. We wanted to get a visit in before the crowds, so we planned our trip for mid-May. The weather was absolutely perfect! It was sunny with occasional clouds, but not yet too hot.
There's so many little adventures to explore at the Lava Lands Visitor's Center. We started our expedition by driving to the top of Lava Butte.
It is definitely a walkable distance to see the top of Lava Butte. It's about a 3.5 mile round trip climb up a paved road. Since our younger girls only have so much stamina for hiking, we decided to save our steps for some of the other trails.
At the top of Lava Butte, there is a trail that traces the rim and takes you up to the fire lookout.
This offers such an amazing view!
You can see both the inside of the cone and the surrounding area.
The path along the rim is made up of small rocks, which Stella found fascinating. She spent much of the hike looking at the ground and showing me all sorts of awesome rocks.
Along all the paths, there are many informational signs that explain the geology and history of the area.
After we explored the top of Lava Butte, we drove back down the Information Center to see which trails we wanted to take. We were met by park rangers throughout our excursion who had recommendations for us.
The Trail of the Molten Land was our first choice. It is a loop that takes you out to the Brogan View Point and meanders over the basalt lava flow and up to the base of Lava Butte.
It is a nicely paved trail, but does have some elevation gain.
I love the variation in views along this trail. At times, you can see vast expanses all the way to the Eastern Cascades.
Other times, you are deep within the lava flow and transported to a different time.
This trail is a little more than a mile, but it felt a little longer to me. It wasn't long into the hike before Stella's legs no longer worked and she required assistance.
The view at the top is breathtaking. From here, you can see the lava flow reach out into the distance. In the background you can see Mt. Bachelor, Tumalo Mountain, South, Middle and North Sister, along with Broken Top.
This trail is really amazing and a big hit with the kids. Madeline loves volcanoes, and was really interested in reading ALL the interpretive signs along the way. We learned a lot about the story of the eruption of Lava Butte and how it has evolved into what it is today.
There's so much more to explore at the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, but we decided to have a nice lunch under the Whispering Pines. After a visit to the Discover Your Forest Bookstore inside the Visitor's Center, where you can find our Lava Butte Line of Solid Shampoo, Conditioner, and Bar Soap, we called it a day!
If you have a chance to head out to Central Oregon, I highly recommend taking your own adventure to Lava Butte. We love it there so much, we'll definitely make a part 2 where we explore other areas of the Lava Lands!
If you aren't already, be sure to follow us on Instagram (@wildfororegon) where we share even more of our adventures.
To take a trip to Lava Butte from your own bathroom, check out our Lava Butte line!