Crossing into Oregon starts a whole new adventure. The Cascade Mountains are the premier mountain range of the United States that are completely created by volcanos. Most of the California, Oregon and Washington Cascades are considered ‘active’ and dangerous volcanos. All are monitored by the US Geological Service. Some are even providing energy for the surrounding communities.
First on our list is Crater Lake. Mount Mazama was formed over years of volcanic eruptions forming a 12,000 foot peak. 7,700 years ago, during a very violent geological time, Mount Mazama erupted. The subsequent lava flow lowered the magma chamber under the volcano. The peak collapsed and formed a deep, completely isolated caldera. The picture on the left, shows a view across the 5 mile wide volcano top, with an “island” in the center. The lake within the caldera is over 1,00o feet deep. The isolation provides a unique location for an almost sterile ecosystem. The area is blessed with over 400″ of snow every winter. Other than rain, there is no other avenue for water to fill the lake. The only way that water escapes is evaporation and minor rock seepage. The lake has maintained a stable level for thousands of years. There are no indigenous fish in the lake. Early in the 1930’s, rainbow trout and kokomo salmon were released. The National Parks System (NPS) allows fishing without any license or limits. Due to it’s isolation, the lake is uncommonly deep blue and crystal clear. The area is open year round but is only accessible by snow mobiles and skiing during the winter months. In fact, we were surrounded by snow throughout our drive around the crater’s rim. A picnic lunch near the Crater Lake Lodge was picturesque.
We travelled north to Bend, Oregon. This only gets better. Another volcano in the range is the Newberry. It erupted 4,400 years ago and again the depleted magma chamber caused the peak to collapse creating a massive caldera with two separate lakes. The caldera has a road inside with campsites and support facilities. We had lunch in a log cabin between the two lakes.
The original explosion from the massive magma chamber formed over 400 auxiliary lava flows that created individual cinder cones throughout the valley. One of these lava tubes is open for viewing. The Lava River Cave, is part of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, which is managed by the United States Forest Service. The cave is an excellent example of a lava tube. We hiked down into the cave and were amazed at the natural habitat for all sorts of animal life, especially bats. Cascade Lakes Highway is a 100 mile tour that allows viewing of many glacier and volcanic formed lakes with many campgrounds all over the region.
Paulina Falls was a magnificient display of spring runoff.
The area does contain the most recent lava in Oregon, the Big Obsidian Flow, which was produced only around 1,300 years ago. It is a wonderful example of a very unique form of lava, in this case, black obsidian glass. It is not rock, it is glass. It is formed as a result of quickly cooled lava. We hiked a mountain side of these beautiful formations.
Partly because of this relatively recent eruption, Newberry Volcano is considered potentially active.
Bend, OR is a high mountain city with 90,000 residents. There are bike and hike trails and the Deschuttes river for activities with winter skiing and snow mobiling. Farmers markets showcase the freshest local fruit and produce.
Our Beaver Solitaire motorhome was manufactured in Bend. The factory was sold in 2001 and the Solitaire was discontinued after only 18 units. Some original sales and service technicians have formed the Beaver Coach Sales company to take care of the brand. We are here to get some needed preventative maintenance and updates.