Bend, Burns, and Beyond

Oregon Map - Bend Burns and Beyond Trip

July 2002

Over the Fourth of July weekend in 2002, I made a three-day roadtrip out to southeastern Oregon, back west near the California border, and then over to the coast.  I spent the first night in Burns, and the second night in Klamath Falls.  Along the way I visited the Newberry Crater, Fort Rock, Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, the Rogue River, and the boardwalk of Coos Bay.  I also got lost.

Portland to Bend

The journey began at 08:30. The drive from Portland to Bend is about 175 miles via I-5, OR-22, and US-20. This was a drive I had made before, so there wasn’t much new to see, but it was pleasant through the mountains. Last time I had gone through the Santiam Pass there was snow and ice everywhere, so the drive was easier this time around. I arrived in Bend around 11:45. After a brief stop I headed south on US-97 to the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

Newberry Crater

Newberry is a large shield-shaped volcano and lava flows covering about 500 square miles. The last eruption was about 1300 years ago, so it is probably still active. The caldera contains two lakes, but sometime before 12,000 years ago it was one large lake like Crater Lake, although not as deep. The Newberry area is promising for geothermal energy, relying on 10,000-ft wells to capture steam between 400–600 degrees Fahrenheit. Potentially this natural source could generate 30 megawatts of electricity, but nothing has been developed yet.

The highest point in the monument is Paulina Peak at 7985 feet. A narrow and sometimes steep gravel road takes you to the top, or you can hike if you are more athletic and adventurous than I am. From the top one can enjoy 360-degree views, featuring most of the Cascades from California to Washington, depending on visibility. Below lays the caldera with its two lakes, and the Big Obsidian Flow from the last eruption. Native tribes once used the obsidian glass for trade and tools.

After descending the peak, I headed out of the monument, stopping along the way to see Paulina Falls. The 80-foot falls were not as “dramatic” as advertised, but impressive nonetheless.