15 Best Things to Do in Newberry Caldera (Oregon)

paulina falls

Newberry Volcano falls within the boundaries of Deschute National Forest.

It is located in the Rocky Mountains, in central Oregon. The protected area is within easy reach from the downtown of Bend.

The main part of Newberry National Volcanic Monument (as it is its full name) is occupied by a huge volcanic caldera, which has collapsed under its own weight thousands of years ago.

This region is characterized by high seismic activity as a result of volcanic processes.

Nowadays, the area is a mosaic of lakes, waterfalls, lava fields, pine forests, mineral springs, wonderful trails and scenic mountain peaks.

The territory of the park is over 54,000 acres, and yet, it sometimes seems overcrowded during the summer months due to the great tourist interest.

Here is what not to miss if you decide to spend a few days here during your next summer holiday:

1. Visit the Twin Crater Lakes

paulina lake and east lake
Paulina Lake and East Lake by Dean Wampler/Flickr

Located next to each other, the Twin Crater Lakes (Paulina Lake and East Lake) are among the main tourist attractions of the Newberry Caldera area.

As the name suggests, you will find them in the caldera of a volcano that has been dormant for at least 7,000 years.

The lakes are amazing with their pristine natural beauty.

The lower of them (Paulina) is located at 6,331 feet above sea level (1,930 meters) and the upper (East Lake) is at 6,401 feet (1,951 meters).

2. Go to Paulina Falls

paulina falls
Paulina Falls by LDELD/Flickr

With its height of 60 feet, Paulina Falls is among the greatest beauties of central Oregon.

The waterfall is located 0.29 miles (less than half a kilometer) west of Paulina Lake.

Special protective fences allow tourists to safely observe the falling water without the risk of slipping into the gorge.

Beautiful hiking trail leads to the foot of the waterfall, where you can see it from a completely different angle.

The waterfall is easy recognizable because a large rock splits the water flow in two right before the edge.

3. Paulina Peak

view from the top of paulina peak
View from the top of Paulina Peak by LDELD/Flickr

Paulina Peak is considered the place with the most amazing panorama in Oregon.

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According to locals, in clear weather the specific location allows you to see virtually the entire state of Oregon, from Washington to the north to California to the south.

The peak rises to 7,984 feet above sea level (2,433.5 meters) and more than 1,600 feet above the lakes.

It offers a unique panoramic view of their cobalt blue waters as well as of the dense pine forests which cover the entire area.

4. Paulina Lake Loop Trail

paulina lake loop trail
Paulina Lake Loop Trail by Tjflex2/Flickr

Paulina Lake Loop Trail is considered one of the most picturesque hiking routes in the area, but it is also heavily trafficked during the summer season.

Here you can enjoy a beautiful view of the lake at almost any point of your walk, and most of the route passes under the pleasant dense shade of the trees.

The trail is relatively easy because there are no difficult sections. Its total length is about 7.5 miles (12.1 km).

5. Boating, kayaking and canoeing

rowboats on the lake beach
Rowboats on the Lake Beach by dirtsailor2003/Flickr

The Twin Crater Lakes are an enticing place to enjoy canoeing, kayaking and boating.

You can rent your own non-motorized vessels if you want to feel the smooth mirrored surface of the mountain lakes.

Depending on your choice, you can rent a boat at Paulina Lake or at East Lake (the last one is more quiet and secluded).

Because of the combination of clean air, pleasant temperatures and green forests in the background, this is one of the very best ways to relieve stress in Oregon.

6. Swimming and sunbathing

east lake beach
East Lake Beach by Rhiannon Boyle/Flickr

Along the shores of Paulina Lake and East Lake you will find several places that are very tempting to swim.

The well-shaped beaches of beige and gray sand attract many visitors during the summer season.

The water in the lakes is of mixed origin.

Apart from rain and snowmelt, they are also fed by geothermal waters, which explains why they are warmer than a typical glacial or mountain lake.

The air temperature during the day is about 75°F (24°C) in July and August, and the water surface is around the comfortable but still refreshing 64 – 68°F (18 – 20°C).

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7. Enjoy the hot springs

paulina lake hot springs
Paulina Lake Hot Springs by YouTube

Paulina Lake is popular for its thermal springs, located right on the beach and within easy reach of the Paulina Lake Loop Trail.

You can take a dip and enjoy the warm water in one of the small pools by the river.

They are primitive, but this is part of the adventure.

The water temperature is between 90 and 115°F (or between 32 and 46°C).

8. The Obsidian Flow

the obsidian flow
The Obsidian Flow by Scott Johnson/Flickr

The Obsidian Flow is a stream of pumice and black volcanic glass.

It is a kind of place you have probably never seen and you can find in a few spots around the world.

Although the area bears many traces of a spectacular volcanic eruption from about 7,000 years ago, the Obsidian Flow is special because it is only 1,500 years old.

It is located in the heart of a huge volcano and is considered the youngest volcanic stream in Oregon.

9. Lava River Cave

lava river cave
Lava River Cave by ryan harvey/Flickr

One of the biggest tourist attractions in the area is Lava River Cave.

As the temperature here is constantly around 42°F (or around 5.5°C), it is a particularly attractive place during the summer season.

While enjoying the labyrinth of corridors, you will notice millions of glimmers, which actually come from the accumulated minerals on the surface of the rock.

Before visiting this place, be sure to check the weather conditions in the area.

Often some of the main roads in the area are closed due to fog and snow during the autumn-winter season.

10. Picnicking

little crater campground
Little Crater Campground by daveynin/Flickr

You can easily find a very good place for a picnic in the area of Newberry Volcano.

One of the very best is the popular Benham Falls Trailhead.

There are several isolated spots, hidden in the coolness of the dense pine forest, which are equipped with special picnic tables and benches.

11. Lava Butte

lava butte
Lava Butte by Wikimedia

Lava Butte is one of the biggest attractions of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

The unique crater rises 509 feet (155 meters) above the surrounding landscape and easily attracts the attention of tourists.

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For the most part, the cone is completely devoid of vegetation.

The northeastern slope, however, is covered with pine trees.

At its deepest part, the crater is about 197 feet (60 meters).

The only recorded eruption occurred in 1977. It, however, wasn’t strong.

The last really powerful eruption of the volcano was about 7000 years ago.

12. Explore Deschutes River

deschutes river
Deschutes River by Wild & Scenic Rivers/Flickr

The Deschutes River stretches north of Newberry Volcano.

The upper reaches of the river fall within the boundaries of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

It is known for being extremely picturesque and definitely worth a visit.

One of the most visited and popular sections of the river is the Benham Falls, which is easily accessible and is also located within the Deschutes National Forest.

13. Fishing

boat fishing
Boat fishing by dirtsailor2003/Flickr

This is a very recommended place if you love fishing.

Here you can find brown trout and kokanee salmon.

The lake is known as the place where the largest brown trout and kokanee salmon in the US have been catched.

This is a great way to relieve stress, especially in combination with fresh mountain air, sun and green vicinity.

14. Star watching

shooting stars through the night sky
Shooting stars through the night sky by Edward Mitchell/Flickr

The Newberry National Volcanic Monument area is away from the lights of the big cities and in addition is located at a higher altitude.

Because of the low levels of dust and humidity in the air, you can expect a very good visibility.

For this reason, this is a popular place to observe the Milky Way, shooting stars or even satellites passing through the night sky.

15. Lava Cast Forest

lava cast forest
Lava Cast Forest by Brian W. Schaller/FAL

Lava Cast Forest is one of the largest landmarks in the Newberry Volcano area and within the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

It is located 5 miles north of Twin Crater Lakes.

The Lava Cast Forest is known for its lava tree molds.

These are deep and hollow underground structures, formed when the lava flow cooled and hardened around the trunks of the surrounding trees.

Some of these holes reach up to 60 feet (18 meters).