Volcanos & Rain Shadows – The Cascades Range, OR
We’ve made it to Oregon!In the spirit of the early pioneers we’re rather relishing the cool, temperate weather and the thick rich pines, highlighted beautifully by the white-capped mountains of the Cascades. Oregon is a coastal state, but has a far more complex geological history and it all comes together right here in a story of volcanic eruptions, lava and rain shadows.
As they say it all started long, long ago. The NW has a million-plus year history of volcanic eruptions many of which have left deep marks on the landscape. Most people know about Crater Lake or have heard of Mt.St Helens, but the Cascades hide their own little story too. Newberry Volcano, centered about 20 miles southeast of Bend, Oregon is one of the largest Quaternary (that would be the period of 1.8 million years ago to the present) volcanoes in the United States. Spanning an area of 500 square miles it boasts 2 large volcanic lakes, hundreds of cinder cones/vents and the Big Obsidian flow, a very recent (only 1,300 year old) eruption that’s left a large, black lava-flow near the summit.
The whole hot history of this place has also shaped the landscape. Surrounding soils are high in pumice and acidity lending themselves to Ponderosa Pine and Bitterbrush. In fact, Oregon’s largest Ponderosa on record (162 feet high) is right here at our park.
The other amazing development is that it’s split the landscape in two -> A wet and a dry side. Oregon has one of the most marked “rain shadows” in the West separated by just this single line of mountains. West of the Cascades areas of the coast can get up to 100″ per year, while East of them it can get down to below 10″. Gives a whole new meaning to splitting the difference!
But all this wonderful history doesn’t tell you that this is also pooch paradise. When we were struggling to find paw-friendly spots on the FL coast last year, I had a poster tell me “come to Oregon, this place belongs to dogs!”. So far paw-dreams are coming true and Polly has been welcomed like a grand queen. Our State Park has a dedicated dog play-area and Rangers even asked if she’d had a chance to swim in the river (and gave us hints on where to go). She was given a dog biscuit when we paid our day-fee for Newberry Caldera, and she’s been going simply banana’s from the mass of squirrels and chipmunks hopping around our site.
We’re relaxing here for a few days before our final push to the RV repair center and my jet-setting off to Europe for my family reunion. You can look forward to a few more park reviews, some pics from my new camera, possibly a guest blog post and hopefully news on the RV slide. Keep your paws and toes crossed for that last one for us, will you?
Did You Know?-> Ponderosa Pine smells like butterscotch. Give it a try!