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Deschutes County

Newberry National Volcanic Monument facilities set to open for summer, with capacity limits

Discover Your Forest

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Newberry National Volcanic Monument south of Bend will open many of its sites for summer visitors next week, with limited capacity due to COVID-19, the Deschutes National Forest said Friday.

Beginning on Thursday, Lava River Cave will open for daily operations through Sunday, August 22.  The site will close on August 23 for the rest of the season for construction activities to improve access to the cave.

For COVID-19 mitigations, the entrance gate to the cave will open at 9 a.m. but will close intermittently for brief periods of time during the day to help manage crowd size in the cave and parking lot. Closures of the gate will not be scheduled and typically will be limited to 30 minutes. The entrance gate will close daily at 3:45 p.m.

In addition, visitors will be required to follow the current Centers for Disease Control guidance for mask wearing and social distancing while visiting Lava River Cave. 

As this guidance is fluid, requirements may change throughout the summer. However, visitors should be aware that it may be impossible to maintain distance of 6 feet or more with others when underground. This year, the cave experience will end approximately halfway through the full length of the cave, at an area known as the sand garden.  Visitors should plan on being underground for less than one hour.  

A valid recreation pass is required at Lava River Cave and may be purchased on-site. Lights to help people explore the cave will be available to rent on site for $5. There are no picnic facilities or water at the recreation site. In the interest of preventing the spread of White-nose Syndrome to bats that reside in the cave, visitors cannot wear or bring into the cave any clothing or gear you have used in any other cave or mine.

Lava Lands Visitor Center also will open on Thursday. However, due to current COVID19 conditions, the exhibit hall and theatre room will not open.  Staffed visitor contact stations will be located on the Lava Lands grounds and, though there will not be scheduled visitor tours or talks, informal interpretation opportunities will be available  to visitors.

The Deschutes National Forest’s partner, Discover Your Forest, will operate the visitor center lobby and bookstore. Capacity will be limited in the lobby and bookstore and any entry will require visitors to wear masks.

The Lava Lands Visitor Center parking area will remain open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily for accessing trails and Lava Butte roadway on foot or bike.

The shuttle bus to the top of Lava Butte will begin operations on Saturday June 19th daily through Labor Day.  The bus will operate continuously between the hours of 10 am and 4:40 pm with one half-hour lunch break. Cost is $3 per person for round trip shuttle from Lava Lands Visitor Center and the top of Lava Butte.  Capacity will be limited  so there may be longer that normal wait times and no personal vehicles may operate during shuttle season. The shuttle is provided in partnership with Cascade East Transit and Discover Your Forest.

Outside of the shuttle operating system, visitors may drive in personal vehicles to the top of Lava Butte when the Lava Lands Welcome Station is open.  Time passes for going to the top of Lava Butte may be acquired at the Lava Lands Welcome Station upon entry to the site.

Starting approximately in  mid-August, parking at Lava Lands will partially closed for parking lot repaving.  Following that closure, parking will be very limited until the end of season in October.

Paulina Visitor Center will tentatively open for the season from Memorial Day weekend. At Paulina Visitor Center, people should expect outdoor service initially and limited merchandise available for purchase. Interagency passes will be available at this location when the visitor center is open. 

Interagency passes, annual passes, and the Newberry National Volcanic Monuments 3-day pass will be available at Lava Lands Visitor Center, Lava River Cave, Newberry Welcome Station and Paulina Visitor Center when those facilities are open. 

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1 Comment

  1. Why wouldn’t the USFS have done the construction work on Lava River Cave during the last YEAR it was closed to the public???

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