Paulina Peak & Falls, Newberry National Monument

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You’ll have to invest a little time, and drive away from the main road, to visit one particularly scenic corner of Newberry National Volcanic Monument.  About 12 miles east of US 97, you’ll find the Newberry Caldera, home to Paulina and East Lake, along with a scenic dirt-road drive up to the top of Paulina Peak, and the picture-perfect Paulina Falls.

My Visit

Paulina Falls

Once you’ve entered the Newberry Caldera area of Newberry National Volcanic Monument, you can choose several different destinations.  The nearest is spectacular Paulina Falls.  There is a parking area on the north side of the road, and just a short hike…

… brings you to this viewpoint.  Paulina Creek splits into two cascades, measuring about 80 feet tall.

The view is nice from this vantage point, but you can also take the trail downhill, to see the falls from below.

You’ll have to do some climbing on slippery boulders to get out to a nice spot, but once you do, you’ll be able to get a nice picture of Paulina Falls.

Interesting Fact: WaterfallsNorthwest.com reports that the proper pronunciation is pa-LINE-uh.  The name is from a Paiute Indian chief involved in the Snake War, from 1864-68.  Chief Paulina was notorious for carrying out violent raids on settlers.

Paulina Peak

Paulina Peak looms over the entire area.  At 7,985 feet, the peak is just one fragment of the larger volcanic crater, which encompasses the entire area.  Long ago, the entire area would have been part of a bigger mountain, taller than 10,000 feet.

You can drive up a slightly washboarded road to the top of Paulina Peak.  From the top…

… you’ll have an excellent view of the entire area.  That’s Paulina Lake in the distance.  East Lake is just out of frame, to the right.  The two lakes are separated by a small strip of land.

There are campgrounds on both lakes, and an RV resort at the end of the road, on East Lake.  You can hike around Paulina Lake (an easy 7.5 mile loop), or hike (or mountain bike) around the entire caldera rim — a rough, 20 mile loop.

The Bottom Line

The Newberry Caldera area of Newberry National Volcanic Monument is one of the prettiest parts of the park.  You can drive to a viewpoint at the top of a jagged volcano rim, and check out a beautiful double waterfall.  What’s not to love?

Location

From Bend, Oregon, head south on US 97.  You’ll pass the Lava Lands Visitor Center.  About 22 miles south of Bend, watch for Paulina Lake Road on the left (east) side.  Turn here, and it’s another 12 miles to the area that includes the lakes, the falls, and Paulina Peak.

Drivelapse Video

Check out this time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive out to the Newberry Caldera:

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