Start mileage: 41,633 End mileage: 41,689
We traveled 56 miles today.
Today was a busy day.
Our first stop was Newberry National Volcanic Monument Lava Lands Visitor Center. The Monument is managed by the US Forest Service. Another Golden Age Pass free admission. We took a short trail to observe the lava beds and listened to a ranger presentation on the volcano and the types of lava and other rock it generated. Natasha participated in the ranger demonstration with a piece of pumice as her prop.
We drove up to Lava Butte on a 1 ½ lane road that hugged the mountain side. The views were dizzying. This cinder cone is a deep reddish brown and rises 500 feet above the visitor center. It formed over 7,000 years ago producing nine square miles of lava. Natasha and Grandpa climbed to the Fire Observation tower on top of the butte. Granny decided to enjoy the views of the Cascade Range and Newberry Volcano from a lower altitude.
The Volcanic Monument has other areas that we didn’t have time to explore like the Lava Cast Forest, Lava River Cave, Newberry Crater with East Lake and Paulina Lake, Paulina Peak, Paulina Falls and the Big Obsidian Flow. We could easily have spent several days exploring this area.
We learned that the volcanic cinder is mixed in with the asphalt used to pave Oregon state roads. We weren’t hallucinating when we thought the roads had a reddish tinge to them.
In the afternoon we visited the High Desert Museum in Bend, OR. This museum is filled with wildlife, living history demonstrations, and walk-through landscapes that portray the history of eight Western states from pre-historic man to Indian tribes, fur traders, cowboys, the railroad, miners, ranchers, etc. The displays are diverse and detailed. They have a collection of birds and stuffed animals that a naturalist from a previous century donated which is a great help in identifying several species of birds and animals.
This is a must see should you visit the area.
There are over 100 animals in their natural habitat. We saw animals like porcupines, river otters, desert tortoise, bobcats, various lizards and snakes and many others that we’d only seen in pictures before.
We attended one nature talk that covered the North American Badger, Great Horned Owl, Barn Owl, Raven and Dessert Tortoise.
The river otter could be viewed from above and below water and he surely did like to play, play, play. What a wonderful place for a family outing. Two days would be better than one. Natasha was particularly fond of the river otter and we just about had to pry her away from that display.
On the way back to our campsite, we took a hike to see “Big Red”, Oregon’s Largest Ponderosa Pine tree. The tree is 162 feet tall, 28.9 feet around and may be in excess of 500 years old. It reminded us a bit of the Sequoia’s in Yosemite National Park.
Like the Badlands, this is an area we could have spent a lot more time exploring.
Among our fellow campers at La Pine was a group of 4 related and unrelated Canadian families with lots of children that Natasha played with. Ages of the children ran from 4 to about 16. She shared her S’mores and glow sticks and had a grand time playing tag, monkey in the middle and other games.