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Newberry Natl. Volcanic Monument campgrounds to open; visitor centers stay closed

Newberry National Volcanic Monument
KTVZ file
Newberry National Volcanic Monument

Lava River Cave also will remain closed

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Deschutes National Forest said Friday it will open all campgrounds, except group campgrounds, and all trails within the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, starting in mid-June; however, Lava Lands Visitor Center and Lava River Cave will remain closed.

Beginning Monday, June 15, most campgrounds within the Newberry National Volcanic Monument will open.  Opening campgrounds include McKay Crossing, Prairie, Cinder Hill, Chief Paulina Horse Camp, East Lake, Little Crater and Paulina Lake. Newberry Group Camp will open when the State of Oregon allows for group sizes appropriate to the group camp.

Lava Lands Visitor Center remains closed and the public will be informed about any opening when it occurs.

Lava River Cave will be closed all summer. Air flow within the cave can cause coronavirus to spread between parties even if social distancing is maintained. In addition, Lava River Cave already was planned to be closed for most of the season to complete a major construction project to repair, extend and improve the internal stairs and metal walkways.  When completed, the project will enhance visitor safety and help protect the cave environment.

“We know it is a disappointment to many people, “said Shanda Dekome, deputy forest supervisor, “However, between the planned construction and the inability to protect people from the spread of the coronavirus within Lava River Cave, we believe it’s the best choice for this year.”

“We look forward to providing a safe and improved visitor experience next year for everyone to enjoy,” she continued.

Other items the public should know about camping in Newberry National Volcanic Monument this year:

  • Most campsites will be 100% reservable through Recreation.Gov to reduce contact between campers and campground hosts, which reduces potential exposure to COVID-19.  Campsites can be reserved beginning June 8th at 2 p.m. Campground reservations can be made up to three days before your trip. Reservations prior to June 15th have been cancelled and full refunds have been processed. 
  • If a campsite has not been reserved it will be available “first come, first served,” but people are highly encouraged to make reservations to secure a campsite. An unreserved campsite may be occupied as first come first served for 3 days or until the date of the next reservation as shown on the site placard.
  • Cinder Hill campground will offer over 40% of campsites as “first come, first served” this season; there will be a fee machine onsite to process credit/debit card payments.  
  • People needing to pay for camping with credit/debit cards at Little Crater, East or Paulina campgrounds may use the fee machine at Cinder Hill.  Please note if using the fee machine, a pass must be purchased and displayed each camping day of your stay.
  • Cash/check deposit envelopes and fee tubes will be available for onsite payment for extra vehicles and first come first served camp sites.

As always, forest visitors are encouraged to “Know Before You Go.” Check local weather conditions, fire restrictions and the status of the recreation site you are wanting to visit.  Check out Know Before Your Go information.

Follow the same guidelines for social distancing and personal hygiene while recreating outdoors as you do at home and in your communities. Adhere to group size restrictions for Oregon while recreating.

Additional campground openings will be announced as they occur. Information will be regularly updated on the Deschutes National Forest website.

Article Topic Follows: Central Oregon

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Barney Lerten

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