Located a few miles south of Lava River Cave, Lava Cast Forest is a part of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument that was established in 1942 as the geological special interest area.
This fantastic forest has been created by the volcanic activity of the Newberry Volcano with the most recent eruption dated 7,000 years ago. Hot molten lava from the volcano engulfed ancient trees forming solid tree molds. The lava covered the trees and burned them up completely. Steam from the burning wood cooled the lava leaving hollow channels or molds. Roots of the ancient trees still exist under the lava flow.
The most widely known example of such a phenomenon would be the Italian city of Pompeii. The sudden eruption of Mount Vesuvius caught townsfolk by surprise. Many of the citizens of Pompeii as well as pets and livestock died there they were. Bodies of humans and animals were covered by lava and their remains burned to leave the mold of the body behind. Italian archaeologists developed a technique of making casts of the bodies and items by pouring cement into the hollows.
Over time, the new trees slowly have been growing up on the lava terrain that appeared to be lifeless. Adapting to the harsh environment, many trees have spiral forms that help to distribute water and nutrients. This contrast of young twisted forest and bright flowers against blackish lava rocks and tree molds might make you feel you are somewhere in a mystic alien place.
Lava Cast Forest Interpretive trail is a one-mile loop self-guided trail. Walk from the parking area, observe and explore the unique volcanic forest. This area is open to visitors between early May until late September. A toilet and picnic tables are available on site for visitor’s convenience.
Be advised that Forest Service Road 9720 which takes you to the Lava Cast Forest is a rarely maintained gravel road. You should drive approximately 10 miles on this road in order to see this amazing area.
Note. Casts are formed when molds are filled with some materials. Technically, Lava Cast Forest is rather tree molds than casts.
Lava Cast Forest | General Description
Open: May 1st - September 30th
Managed: US Forest Service
Services: Interpretive trail, picnic areas, and vault toilet
Activities: Hiking and exploring
Day-use fees: Yes or Recreation Pass
Dogs: Must be on a leash
Restrictions: Horses & mountain bikes are prohibited on the trail
Elevation: 5,700 ft (1,737 m)
Lava Cast Forest is located:
- 24 miles south of Bend
- 134 miles east of Eugene
- 199 miles southeast of Portland.
- Follow about 15 miles south on Highway US-97 to exit 153
- Take exit 153 toward Sunriver and then turn left onto Lava Cast Forest (Forest Road 9720)
- Drive 9 miles on a gravel Lava Cast Forest Road to the destination.