Friday, May 30, 2014
Newberry National Volcanic Monument Lava River Cave
After visiting the beautiful Paulina Waterfall and Lake Anthony drove us back down the mountain to the Newberry Lava River Cave. The Lava River Cave is located just off the highway about 12 miles south of Bend. Lava River Cave is part of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.
The cave is a constant chilly 40 degrees, but it was about 65 degrees outside when we visited. Even before descending into the cave you could see your breath. The cave entrance is very close to the parking lot which made it convenient to put on jackets and headlamps before heading down. The cave was formed by a fascinating process of flowing and ebbing molten lava. The first 300 or 400 feet of the cave trail descends with moderately steep metal stairs. After that, the trail is mostly on gently descending wood and steel platforms with handrails and eventually just sand and very smooth rock. It is an easy hike for young and old alike, although some may be unnerved by hiking further and further away from any visible sunlight which happens very quickly. We encountered a little boy at the mouth of the cave who was too scared to go inside.
They say the area has a large bat population but we did not see a single one in the cave. That may be based on the amount of foot traffic or time of year. We did not encounter any Park Rangers either to ask about the bat population so I am only guessing at this point. Visitors encounter many interesting geologic features as they walk deeper into the cave and at one point I could even touch the ceiling. Of course the real adventure is seeing how far you are willing to hike into the darkness before turning back. There were several times where we turned off our head lamps and it was pitch dark without any sound near or around us. Pretty frightening when you think about it. Although we did not go to the very end (Anthony had been there before) we were very close.
Newberry National Volcanic Monument - http://gonw.about.com/od/parksor/a/newberry.htm