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!
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.