Newberry National Volcanic Monument: Fascinating Moonscape in Oregon

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It may look like the moon, but no rocket was required to get here. We simply drove 20 minutes from Bend to arrive at the otherworldly Newberry National Volcanic Monument. One glimpse and it was easy to understand why NASA chose this bizarre terrain to be a training ground for some of the Apollo astronauts to test their ability to walk around in space suits.

We didn’t need any special attire other than a good pair of walking shoes to hike the park’s well-maintained trails. As we ascended the pocked hills, we found the juxtaposition of the lava flow with the Deschutes National Forest and the Cascade Mountains impressive. One of the best views was atop Lava Butte overlooking much of the 1,200 square mile caldera. It resembled a black textured canvas stretched over an area roughly the size of Rhode Island. Small patches of trees and shrubs added random pops of color across the earthbound moonscape. We wondered if maybe this is what the Man in the Moon smiles at as he looks down every night.

If you enjoyed this story in our series, you may also enjoy three other stories about day hikes in the Bend area to Smith Rock State Park, near a waterfalls or a pair of alpine lakes. We also invite you to check out the books in our series.