Paulina Lake OR: How To Sleep Soundly In A Snoozing Volcano
You’re in the Bend OR area on the east side of the Cascades, and on the prowl for a great camp spot, kicking back for a day or two or three, fishing, sailing, languishing in a hot springs, the game of Life at your picnic table? And..National Park Senior Pass-friendly? We’ve got you covered. Stock up with supplies, tootle along OR Highway 97, drive up and eastwards to Paulina Lake and East Lake. These two gems sit in a giant volcano caldera at Newberry National Volcanic Monument.
Get the big picture and plan the trip
How’re you going to get your research started? EZ PZ. Complete with follow-up links and activity ideas, click How To Make Your Day At Newberry National Volcanic Monument OR.
Need a photo? How does the one above look to you? Paulina Lake is on the left, East Lake on the right. And see that road slithering through the trees between the lake shores and the lava flow? It’ll take you to the campgrounds at both lakes.
Campgrounds, plural. There are 6+. (Scroll down the booooring USFS page for the pop-up with camping info).
So, what about the camping?
If you come at a good time, you may find an attractive camp spot along the shoreline or a sizeable and private place, like yours truly’s below at Paulina Lake Campground.
Candid Comment: You may have to pick up trash and cigarette butts in your campsite when you arrive, and fish stuff out of the fire ring. The contractor—HooDoo Recreation—doesn’t do its care-taking job here or anywhere. It’s a scandal to have a National Monument campground in this condition. Are you paying attention, USFS?
Maybe you’d like a map of Newberry Caldera in advance?
Here ya go! Campgrounds ‘n’ all.
Hmmmm….Hiking, fishing, camping, waterfalls.
And then, of course, there’s the gravel road to the top of Paulina Peak, the hike-in hot springs at shoreline, the umbrella-ed patio at the “resort”, the dog-friendly walkies.
Preparation is everything for Paulina Lake camping
DEFINITELY plan ahead before you leave Highway 97.
- Yes, make reservations and observe seasonal closures.
- Yes, take a good look at the altitude (6000+ feet). Will you be comfortable at that elevation? Overnight?
- Yes, consult the weather forecast. Does it call for snow? A deep freeze? Heavy rain? “Socked in”?
- Yes, plan for low temperatures at night. It’s not unusual for the high Cascades to drop into freezing range, even in the warmest months. Not convinced? Here’s the Paulina Visitor Center on July 4th. 1985.
- Yes, pick up food, ice, and camping stuff in Bend, LaPine, or Sunriver. The campgrounds are 15+ miles up the road from Highway 97.
- Yes, fill up on gas. It’s hard to enjoy the scenery while worrying you’ll run low.
- Yes, make all the phone calls you need before you leave the main highway.
- Yes, write your emails and load up your Kindle with electronic books on the internet at LaPine library. Electronic services at the caldera? Nyet, except for maybe cabin guests.
- Yes, observe in advance that Paulina Lake Lodge offers supplies, gas, rental boats, cabins, and a homey restaurant. However, this is a rustic “resort” and not full service at Yellowstone: it may not have the essentials you need.
Other camping cheap cheap?
Plenty of that, too.
There are hundreds of federal campgrounds within a day’s drive of Lava Lands. With that many choices, where do you begin?
Look them up on the low-cost Ultimate Public Campground Project App and research to your heart’s content. It’ll give you prices, amenities, directions, seasons….[spacer height=”10px”]
Great camping (2 hours away including pie break), after mid-August:
Spectacular? Waldo’s one of the clearest lakes in the world.
The mid-August thing? Waldo’s also one of the buggiest places in the world. No bugs after mid-August, but you can check internet buzz for the widely-broadcast Waldo bugs-are-done report.
In case you’re wondering…
LaPine State Campground lies adjacent to Highway 97 at a lower altitude than the Newberry caldera. However, like most state campgrounds, it’ll cost you quite a bit more than if you stay at a federal facility using your discount from the National Park Senior Pass. See Location, Location: Public Campground Savvy For Adventuring Seniors.
Photo credits. Top…Newberry National Monument Caldera: By USGS photo by Lyn Topinka [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Location: Screen shot from Google Maps. East Lake Campground: Public Domain by US Forest Service via Flickr. Paulina Lake Campground: Public Domain by US Forest Service via Flickr. Blizzard, Paulina Visitor Center Circa 1985, 4th of July 11:30 am: CC BY 2.0 by Richard Bauer via Flickr. Paulina Lodge and Resort, IMG 0465: CC BY 2.0 by Mitchell Friedman via Flickr. Waldo Lake: Public Domain by Coulee via Wikimedia. Sunrise at Paulina-Deschutes: Public Domain by US Forest Service via Flickr.