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Lava Butte Near Sunriver, Oregon

A large portion of this region of Oregon was built atop the hardened lava of ancient volcano eruptions and is a part of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, including the cinder cone known as Lava Butte in Sunriver, Oregon. Formed from the eruption of gas-filled molten lava that lands in a circular cone around the vent of the volcano, Lava Butte resembles the volcano project you probably attempted in your 6th grade science class! Visiting Lava Butte has been a favored tourist activity in Sunriver for decades, and if you have young children, they may even earn extra credit on their school projects for visiting this part of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument!

How to Reach Lava Butte

Easy to find, the cinder cone is located west of US Route 97, approximately midway between Bend and our hometown of Sunriver. You can access the top in two ways: via a shuttle that runs from the Lava Land Visitor Center every 20 minutes in the summer and costs a mere $2 per person, or by parking at the visitor center and hiking up. At 5.5 miles round trip, hiking all the way up may be a little much for younger children or those with physical limitations. The shuttle only accepts exact change and won’t accept credit cards, but you can purchase your tickets by credit card ahead of time here.

No Fears Necessary

The last eruption of Lava Butte occurred over 7000 years ago, so there is no need to fear another one any time soon. Lava Butte in Sunriver, Oregon is a fascinating example of the damage that volcanoes can cause, but you are perfectly safe! Paths to the top of this 600-foot-high marvel are gravel-topped and lead to a path that takes you around the crater top. Bring your camera and take a moment to enjoy the views of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument from this spot. You can see the rugged Cascade Mountains in the background and acres of green grass and trees. See that blackened area directly beneath you that leads to the Deschutes River off in the distance? That is hardened lava from Lava Butte’s last eruption; it traveled across the meadows and down into the river over 7000 years ago and is still visible today! And while you may see the occasional patch of colorful wildflowers, a few trees, and even a bush or two, you may notice that unlike the lush greenness that you find everywhere else in this verdant state, the volcanic monument area contains almost no vegetation, and under the right conditions, bears a small resemblance to the surface of the moon.

Trails in the Area

Hiking around Lava Butte Sunriver, Oregon is one of the popular activities in Sunriver, and the three main trails offer varying degrees of difficulty. The Trail of the Molten Land is only about three quarters of a mile long and is completely paved, allowing you to catch glimpses of volcanic abnormalities you may have never known existed. The Whispering Pines trail leads you around the lava fields and only lasts about a third of a mile, while the Black Rock Trail travels around the forest for many miles.

Sunriver Activities Near Lava Butte

Located close to everything you could want to do in Bend and Sunriver, there are many activities to keep you occupied in the area after you have finished your tour of Lava Butte in Sunriver, Oregon.

Dip your toes into the public art scene of Bend with a visit to the Tin Pan Alley Art Collection, found outside in many areas of Bend. The peacock titled Born Again Ghost, created by local artist Megan McGuinness, can be seen painted on the downtown parking garage. Firebreather, created by Avlis Leumas, can be found in Gasoline Alley near Franklin Boulevard. The Community Mural, painted by a group of local artists, and can be found in the Old Mill District at 450 Powerhouse Drive. These are just a few examples of the talent and creativity you will find during your tour of the town.

All This Fresh Air is Making Us Hungry

Hiking, touring the public art of Bend, and simply having your breath taken away from the beauty of your surroundings will soon lead you to the nearest restaurant for a hearty meal and a refreshing beverage. Stop by Jake’s Diner at 2210 Highway 20 in Bend for comfort food that makes your stomach smile. Open for breakfast and lunch only, their meals are simple and hearty and include plate-sized pancakes, burgers topped with onion rings, and some of the best coffee and hot chocolate in town! If you’re winding your way back to your Sunriver Pines home away from home, the Village Bar & Grill is a local favorite. Open for lunch and dinner and serving an extensive selection of pub grub, salads, and comfort foods, this casual spot located at 57100 Beaver Drive Building #7 in Sunriver really knows how to feed hungry guests!

Comfortably Full and Slightly Sleepy

Our Sunriver Pines vacation escapes off all the comforts of home, and you’ll find yourself wishing you never had to leave. Reserve yours today and discover the perfect place to relax and recharge after a long day of Sunriver activities!

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Image by Q. Meyers / CC 3.0