Newberry Crater and its two Lakes from 7,600 ft on Paulina Peak. Hot Springs Discussion

Located some forty miles south of Bend, this is Oregon's "Other Crater Lake." Ancient Mt. Newberry was a big, sloppy shield volcano much like Mauna Loa in Hawaii, with about 400 cinder cones scattered like hot candy around its spacious flanks. It was at least as high as Mt. Hood in its heyday, but then it collapsed upon itself several times over the millenia. There was probably a time when its caldera was filled with a mighty lake like Crater Lake, and geologists believe it was probably a deep one that was about 1,600 feet deep; however, today, continued volcanic activity has left us with two separate lakes, Paulina Lake at 250 feet deep, and East Lake at 170 feet deep. Since the area is located east of Cascade crest, it is a lot drier than the Cascades to the west, and the vegetation is characterized more by various pines than by Douglas or true firs. Paulina Lake on the left is just under 6,400 ft in elevation. East Lake on the right is slightly higher and still sports some hot springs seeping into it on its SE side; it has no outlet stream or river....East Lake Hot Springs Resort flourished from about 1915 to 1941; in the 1920's patrons from many States outside Oregon came to sample its 120 degree mineralized waters (location of resort was the Red "X" on the right-most lake in the image above)...... Paulina Lake has a user-friendly hot springs area on its NE shore (see Red "X" on the shore of the left-most lake in image above, and then see image of the hot springs below)...... Obsidian Lava Flow is one of the 2 or 3 most recently volcanic areas in Oregon at only 1,300 years in age. It is the large dark feature just over the people's heads. Even more interestingly, this lava flow was a training ground for NASA Astronauts during the early days of the U.S. Space Program!

The climate of the area is considerably drier than the Cascade mountain crest just 25-35 miles to the west, but is still moist enough to support some wetter tree and vegetation types, especially on the windward (west) side of Newberry Crater, ie. Paulina Lake has considerable growth of Mountain Hemlock trees, whereas East Lake is virtually all Lodgepole Pine. Since the basin containing the lakes is over 6,000 ft high, and east of the Cascade crest, winter cold snaps can be severe, and both lakes often freeze over for several months in the long winters (especially East Lake).... Both cross-country skiing and snow-mobiling are popular in the area, with plentiful snow that is often of the more powdery snow types. Concessionaires maintain year-round lodging on the west side of Paulina Lake at Paulina Lake Resort, and of course wonderful upscale lodgings and fine dining are available halfway back to Bend at Sunriver Resort.

Also of interest in the panorama above is Pine Mountain, site of the University of Oregon Pine Mountain Observatory. Look to the skyline immediately above the woman's head, and you'll see a long, dry-looking mountain--- that's 6,350 ft. Pine Mountain. It is a serious astronomical facility, but nevertheless Visitors are welcome there; access is from Highway 20, near Millican east of Bend. Primitive camping is also available right there on top of the mountain, which is an experience that I recommend! Click here to visit the mountaintop via their year-round webcam!


A Family enjoying the warmth of the Paulina hot springs on the northeast shore of Paulina Lake

Geologists who have drilled into the caldera of Newberry Crater tell us that molten lava lies only 2 to 4 miles below the surface. Drilling near Big Obsidian flow in 1981 hit 509 degrees F at 3,058 feet depth (this flow is on the left edge of image above)..... Big Obsidian Flow actually flowed into Paulina Lake just 1,300 years ago. The pool shown above measured 96-97.5 degrees F, while deep in the bubbling gravel of its hottest neighbor I obtained a reading of 113 degrees, using an infared (IR) thermometer....These facts, and the fact that the overall shield volcano has had a very active eruptive history for the past 600,000 years, leads volcanologists to assertively predict--- "Newberry Crater WILL be active again."

The hot springs which ooze into both Paulina and East Lakes are full of minerals and heat, which are thought to cause the phenomenal growth rates of fish in these lakes, eg. where 3-4 inch fish which are released into the lakes will reach a length of 10-12 inches in just one year. Thus the superb trophy fishing in these lakes. The fishes found include Kokanee salmon, brown, rainbow and brook trout. Recently, in 1990, Atlantic salmon were released into East Lake...... Interestingly, early explorers of the area found both lakes devoid of fish, which is thought to be caused by the waterfalls on Paulina Creek just below the outlet. Thus, the active Native American cultures which inhabited the Crater for thousands of years apparently did so without the benefit of fishing, which would have been a major addition to their diets. The lakes were first planted with fish in 1912...... Other Oregon Hot springs include-- Bagby, Austin, Bigelow, Terwilliger aka Cougar hot springs (French Pete),Wall Creek, McCredie, Umpqua, Hart Mountain, Mickey (probably unsafe now), Alvord, Whitehorse, Blue Mountain hot springs (probably back in operation after a lapse), Snively, Breitenbush hot springs, Belknap, Kah-Nee-Ta hot springs, Ritter, Lehman Hot Springs where my Dad used to soak after elk-hunting, the recently magnificently refurbished Hot Lake Resort (Hot Lake) near LaGrande), Cove Pool, Summer Lake Resort, Hunters near Lakeview can include a real geyser in their hunt, Crystal Crane (Harney County).

See Medical Springs Hot Springs Resort near LaGrande

See "Evening on Paulina Lake Shores 2005"

See "Paulina Lake Fishing Morning 2005"

See "Obsidian, flower and tiny tree"

See "Paulina Lake Pollen and Penstemon"


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** Images and creative writing in this website copyright and property of Bruce B. Johnson, an Oregon photographer, brucej@oregonphotos.com-- Contact required before usage of images or writing. Occasional writing/images by others is as credited, and also copyrighted.

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