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Newberry National Volcanic Monument

Established in November 1990, Newbery National Volcanic Monument is a protected area within Deschutes National Forest.  Including more than 50,000 acres in central Oregon, the monument protects beautiful geologic formations including lakes, lava flows, and lave tubes.

Lava River Cave:

Lava River Cave, located in Newberry National Volcanic Monument, is a lava tube that runs about a mile underground.  It is one of the longest known lava tubes in Oregon.  The cave is located just south of Bend off US-97.  Take exit 151 and follow Cottonwood Road to the parking area for the cave.  There office is located next to the parking area, just before the entrance to the cave.  There is a $5 fee per vehicle to access the recreation area.  Check the website for operating hours.

The length of the lava tube is about a mile and it takes an hour to an hour and a half to explore.  The temperature in the cave is a constant 42°F, so dress warmly, regardless of the weather outside.  The office rents propane lanterns for $5.  When we visited the cave, we tried just using camping headlamps, but after a couple minutes, we went back and rented a lantern.  The headlamps were fine for seeing where we were walking, but we couldn't see much else in the cave.  With the lantern, we could see the cave much better.

The cave entrance is right by the visitor center and upon entering, there are more than 100 stairs descending into the cave.  There are a large number of volcanic rocks and boulders in this first section, called the Collapsed Corridor.  Freezing water in the roof of the cave loosens rocks and causes them to fall, forming large boulder piles.  After passing the boulder piles, the cave opens up to a wide chamber called the Echo Hall, because the smooth walls echo sound well.  After Echo Hall, the cave becomes more narrow and passes under US-97, before reaching Two Tube Tunnel, where there are two tunnels with connecting passes.  Past here is the Sand Garden, one of the most unique features of the cave.  Fine volcanic ash is carried into the cave through cracks in the rock and distribute on the floor, one grain at a time.  Dripping water creates interesting shapes for the sand piles.  At the end, the cave gets very narrow and eventually becomes impassable.  The Forest Service has erected a fence at the end, where visitors must turn back.

External Links:

US Forest Service website: http://www.fs.usda.gov/...Home

US Forest Service website for Lava River Cave: http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/centraloregon/recarea/?recid=38396

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