Check out the eerily surreal landscape at Lava Beds National Monument, where you can rent a flashlight and a lamp for exploring underground caves and trails. Guided trips are also available. Don’t miss a visit to Crater Lake National Park, where a trip around Rim Drive will reward you with great views of the lake and surrounding mountains and forests. During winter, the region is a mecca for wildlife watchers-the Klamath Basin hosts the largest concentration of wintering bald eagles in the contiguous U.S. Take the ten-mile walking/biking trail through marshlands and uplands at Klamath Marsh, part of the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge, or view and photograph eagles from behind a blind at sunrise. Positively mesmerizing.
Central Oregon’s stunning landscape of pine-sloped mountains and gemlike lakes is just part of the picture. Underground is an amazing series of lava caves and tubes created by violent volcanic activity that began 45 million years ago! To find out the how and why, visit Lava Lands Vistor Center on Highway 97, between Bend and Sunriver. Then, see it for yourself at Lava River Cave, the longest intact lava tube in Oregon. Also check out Newberry National Volcanic Monument, an area encompassing obsidian fields, lava formations, waterfalls, hiking trails, and Newberry Crater, with two spectacular fishing lakes.
Three rivers merge to form the 3,906-acre Lake Billy Chinook, one of Central Oregon’s favorite summer playgrounds. The lake and surrounding park offer hiking, picnicking, boating (a marina offers rentals), and unbeatable fishing for everything from bull trout to Chinook salmon. To get there, take the scenic route-the Cove-Palisades driving loop, a 31-mile drive that goes through the town of Culver to Lake Billy Chinook, skirts the park to Round Butte, then heads to Madras.