Jordan Craters

Photo by: Greg Burke Photo by Greg Burke

Highlights: The 27-square-mile ovaline lava flow of Jordan Craters is one of the most recent volcanic flows in Oregon -- so much so that locals claim that you can still see bootprints in places. The origin of the flow is Coffeepot Crater, a deep cavity at the far northeast of the flow. Walking in and around Coffeepot and exploring its side pits, tubes and caves makes for a great journey on a landscape like the surface of the moon. From where you parked your car, a straightforward loop around the rim and down the red cinder path into the heart of the crater is about 1 mile (but you’ll no doubt find trenches and tubes to explore on your way). The path down into the crater descends about 150 feet.

Need to Know: The road into Jordan Craters is best suited for four-wheel-drive vehicles or vigilant Subaru drivers with clearance and wherewithal. This road is not good enough to be traveling after even a quarter inch of rain: Do not leave the road if this is the case.

Temperatures on the hike can be extreme in the summer. Wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Bring plenty of water and electrolytes. The lava surface can have sharp edges and ridges, and parts can break off around tubes and caves. Wear stable footwear and watch where you step.

Getting There: From Jordan Valley, head north on Highway 95 for a little more than 8 miles to a sign for Jordan Craters. Turn left and follow the good gravel road for 11.5 miles to a fork on the road. Keep right. Drive nearly 7 miles to another fork, and go left onto a rougher dirt road. Stay left at another fork in roughly 6 miles. And after about a mile and a half, fork left once again. Drive to the end of the road to a parking area. You will see Coffeepot Crater in front of you.