Outdoor Recreation Inspired by Oregon’s Volcanic History
Hot lava and volcanic ash formed the unique geological landscape around Bend and Central Oregon. Visitors to the Lara House Bed & Breakfast often ask us what they should do and see, here are just a few of our recommendations featuring the area’s volcanic past.
Many of these destinations will have you gone for part of the day so fill up in the morning at the multi-course breakfast at Lara House. If you still have questions about where you are going talk to us, we can help you plan your day.
Crater Lake Park – Oregon’s only National Park
The beauty of Crater Lake has to be seen to really be appreciated. Crater Lake is the deepest lake (1,943 feet deep) in the country, created when snowmelt and rainfall filled a dormant volcanic basin. The basin itself was formed 7,700 years ago when Mount Mazama, a 12,000 foot high volcano, erupted. Crater Lake is one of the clearest lakes in the world and you’ll be in awe of the deep blue waters. On the western shore of the lake you’ll see Wizard Island, a cinder cone over 300 acres in size, and a natural rock pillar called Phantom Ship can be seen near the southern shore.
Open year round, Crater Lake has something to offer in every season. If you visit in the winter you can snowshoe. Summer is the most popular season to visit. You can hike around the lake, ride a boat to Wizard Island or drive the scenic Rim Drive. If you are a road cyclist the park offers a few car free weekends each year so you can safely cycle Rim Drive.
If you really want to get in the water starting in mid-to-late June you can take the mile long steep hike on the Cleetwood Cove Trail, the only place where it is safe and legal to get to the lake shore and swim.
Visiting Crater Lake from Lara House is definitely a day trip, it takes about three hours to get to the national park.
After an hour and fifteen minute drive from Lara House you’ll be rewarded with incredible views of Cascade peaks when you look out the lava tube viewing holes at the Dee Wright Observatory. The structure, made entirely of lava stone found at the site, perfectly blends into the surrounding lava flow. If you aren’t familiar with the surrounding mountains use the brass “peak finder” to locate: Mount Jefferson, Black Butter, North Sister, Middle Sister, Mountain Washington, Mount Hood and more.
Walk the half-mile long paved Lava River Interpretive Trail, starting at the observatory, through a field of lava rocks. Interpretive signs along the trail highlight the area’s unique geological history.
To get up close and personal with some lava and learn about the molten history of Central Oregon visit the Lava Lands Visitor Center, only a 20 minute drive from Lara House Bed and Breakfast. The site includes an interpretive exhibit on area geology as well as a cultural history of the area. You can browse the book store, catch a scheduled film or attend a Ranger talk. Visitors can hike to the top of Lava Butte for an impressive view of the Central Oregon landscape, walk the Trail of Molten Land through stretches of lava fields and meander the Trail of the Whispering Pines. Most of the trails are paved making for an even hike accessible to wheelchairs. With so much to do bring a packed lunch and stay for a picnic under the pines.
If you bring your bike hop on the 5.5 mile paved bike path that connects the Lava Lands to Sunriver Resort. Once you are there hop on a new set of paved bike pathways within Sunriver where you can ride through meadows, along the river and see the marina, golf course, horses at the stable and the Sunriver airport.
Rivers typically begin from snowmelt spilling into gullies and collecting into streams that find bigger streams. Well that isn’t the case for the Metolius River, it emerges out of the base of Black Butte Mountain. When you visit you can take a short paved trail through Ponderosa Pines leading to the spring. After experiencing the start of the river you can choose to hike further to see the beautiful, crystal clear river in its full glory.
If you are into fly fishing there are many shallow spots along the Metolius River for easy access. To get an insider’s perspective on fly fishing in Central Oregon visit The Patient Angler, their local intel is invaluable.
From the Lara House Bed and Breakfast the Head of the Metolius is a 45 to 60 minute drive.
Considered one of the Seven Wonders of Oregon, the Painted Hills are a visual and geological treat in Eastern Oregon. The Painted Hills is part of the John Day Fossil Beds National Park, a two hour drive from Lara House Bed and Breakfast in Bend. You’ll learn more about the geology from different signs throughout the area when you visit but the different hued layers within the hills reveal snapshots in time going back millions of years.
Many of the iconic, instagram-worthy photos you’ve seen of The Painted Hills were taken at the Painted Cove Trail and Boardwalk. The trail is an easy 1/4 mile loop along a wooden boardwalk surrounded by crimson cinder mounds, lilac ash deposits and hills of copper and gold. With the bright blue sky as the background the landscape looks other worldly. There are many other short trails in the area so it’s easy to fit them all into a visit. Don’t miss Red Scar Knoll Trail, Fossil Leaf Trail, and Painted Hills Overlook Trail.
Services and facilities in the area are limited so consider bringing water, snacks and a lunch with you.
Photo tip: the colors of the hills shift as the light and moisture levels change so you’ll find different photo opportunities throughout the day.