Andy Kerr

Conservationist, Writer, Analyst, Operative, Agitator, Strategist, Tactitian, Schmoozer, Raconteur

Fort Rock Lava Beds National Monument (Proposed)

Suggested Citation: Kerr, Andy. 2000. Oregon Desert Guide: 70 Hikes. Seattle: The Mountaineers Books. pp. 112-113.

<<<-Previous             Table of Contents            Next->>>

Thick forests to open sage with a wide variety of volcanic features in between.

Location: Lake County, 10 miles north of Christmas Valley

Size: 150 square miles (96,256 acres)

Terrain: Recent lava flows with a variety of volcanic features

Elevation Range: 4,315-5,612 feet

Managing Agencies: Lakeview District BLM (present); National Park Service (proposed)

Recreation Map: Northwest Quarter, North Half Lakeview Resource Area, Lakeview District BLM

The Fort Rock Lava Beds are a wonder of numerous volcanic events both in time and kind. Basalt flows, lava tubes, spatter cones, kipukas (areas of undisturbed vegetation surrounded by lava fields), and more are easy for the geologic novice to comprehend. But it is more than just lava. Much is vegetated. The lava flows are in an ecotone, a transition zone between the higher-elevation ponderosa pine forest and the lower-elevation open sage country (See Fort Rock Lava Beds Wilderness.)

The proposed monument encompasses the proposed Fort Rock Lava Beds Wilderness and also includes additional lands with geological, ecological, cultural, historical, and recreational values. Several other features would be pro- tected, including an ice cave, additional lava flows, and formations, as well as vast stands of western juniper forest.

What to Do

Starting at Christmas Valley, generally follow the BLM's backcountry byway noted on the BLM recreation map. The first required stop is Crack in the Ground (see the Crack in the Ground exploration in Fort Rock Lava Beds Wilderness). Continue northeasterly along the western edge of the Four Craters Lava Field to the summit of Green Mountain, which has a fire lookout and great views. A campground is located a few hundred yards away. Continue northerly to the southern edge of the East Lava Field and then westerly to the southeast edge of the Devils Garden unit of the Fort Rock Lava Beds Wilderness.

At this point, you can continue on the backcountry byway to Fort Rock (worth a side trip itself—the park, not the hamlet) or drive northerly along the east side of the Devils Garden unit to take in The Blowouts. The feature is not shown on the BLM recreation map, but it is just east of the "Derrick Cave" shown on the map. To confuse matters further, the one and only real Derrick Cave is in reality 1 mile to the north of where it is shown on the BLM recreation map. See the Little Garden exploration in Fort Rock Lava Beds Wilderness for more detailed directions. The Blowouts are huge and distinct spatter cones. Derrick Cave is a 30- foot-high, 50-foot-wide, 1/4-mile-long lava tube that has collapsed in two places. Exploring the cave requires both a bright light and the right attitude.

Continue northerly and then westerly into the Deschutes National Forest. The road soon reaches FS Road 23, which runs into FS Road 22, which goes to LaPine.