The Lava Cast Forest is located just south of Bend and is not to be missed by locals & visitors alike. This area was formed when a lava flow overtook an old-growth forest and cooled to form casts of the trees that once stood there.
The trail that runs through the area is a loop with several lookout points & informational signs along the way. Very interesting and educational for older kids. Mine didn’t have the patience to stand around while I read the information to them as the surrounding area is way too intriguing and there is so much to explore!
On our next visit, we will check out the Lava River Caves. The caves get busy as the day goes on and if you can’t find parking in that area, they advise you to return another time. My advice would be to go early as the caves get busy as the day goes on. If you do get there on the later side though, there is a ranger guided one-hour tour available at 3 pm (tours are limited to 15 people, reservations are accepted on the day of the tour).
The caves are also extremely COLD, even in the middle of summer, so bring a sweatshirt or jacket & wear closed shoes. Flip-flops are a bad idea! You can bring your own flashlights or rent headlamps for only $5. Most flashlights are not as powerful as the ones you can rent, so I recommend renting at least one for the group as this will enhance your tour. Of course, for the best experience, everyone should have a light.
Also, NEW for 2015 is the Lave Butte Shuttle! The shuttle takes visitors to the summit of Lava Butte where you will find a mile long trail around the perimeter of the summit and breathtaking views of the Cascade Mountain range. We were told on a clear day, you can see all the way to WA & CA! The shuttle runs from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. It departs from the Lava Lands and Lava Butte about every 20 minutes from 9:20 am to 4:40 pm. Fares are only $2 per rider (children 2 and under are free).
The Lava Lands Visitor Center opens in early May and close in mid-October.