Crack in the Ground – An amazing sight!: LAPC & FFC

Last week we visited Crack in the Ground in Central Oregon near Christmas Valley. You may be wondering what exactly this place is. Well… it’s a huge crack in the ground in the middle of the desert.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was impressed by the crack’s picturesque angles and curved surfaces.

Crack in the Ground, Oregon

There’s a 2-mile trail inside that reaches a depth of ~70 feet below the surface. We took the left path that has a more gradual entrance. It’s in the middle of the picture below. This trail is relatively easy but if you go the whole length, expect to climb over boulders and through some cracks.

2-mile trail near Christmas Valley, Oregon

But how did this crack get here? It’s an ancient volcanic fissure. I learned in most climates, fissures fill up with soil and rock from erosion. Since it’s so dry here, there has been relatively little filling.

Fissure near Christmas Valley, Oregon

Crack in the Ground sits within the Four Craters Lava Bed. During the Pleistocene, four cone volcanoes were active here. A shallow depression formed when older heavier rock sunk. The fissure opened near the edge where there was tension along a fault zone. This Bureau of Land Management map shows the extent of the lava beds and the location of Crack in the Ground.

Crack in the Ground & Green Mountain Campground - BLM

As the lava cooled, it formed spots with interesting textures. Great for photos!

As we found out, temperatures within the fissure can be 20 degrees cooler than at ground level. These photos were taken on March 23. When we saw the trail ahead, we decided to stop here.

Crack in the Ground, Oregon

Why? On this trip we brought our dogs and didn’t want to do our own version of dog sled racing on the slippery surface. 😉

Crack in the Ground, Oregon

Make sure and bring the essentials, including warm clothing, on this short hike. You’ll travel on a 7.5-mile washboard dirt road to get to the site, but it’s well worth it to view this unique attraction.

Also consider visiting the nearby Lost Forest, another special local attraction.

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38 thoughts on “Crack in the Ground – An amazing sight!: LAPC & FFC

  1. That’s really amazing Siobhan – clearly it’s quite cold down there!. I’m guessing the dogs didn’t want to go in any more than you did LOL. Loved the geometry of it, especially the way the rocks formed.

    • Yes, it was cold! One dog will go anywhere while the other is more hesitant. Compact snow and ice made it sort of dicey. I thought the formation was very impressive. 😁

  2. Another fascinating spot, Siobhan. I love that you took your dogs with you. I was surprised that it was that much colder at the bottom of the crack. Makes sense though. You’ve really have some interesting shapes here. Great choice.

    • Thanks, Patti! It was a great place to take pictures. It wasn’t the easiest place to walk dogs, but they like going everywhere with us.

    • Good question. I guess it might puddle a little, but 9 inches spread over the year isn’t very much. Our soil, a couple hours north of there, is almost completely sand and it drains fast.

    • Thanks! I debated taking my dogs, but they were eager to get out and about too. The trail was very slippery in spots. I’d like to visit again when it’s warmer. 🌞

    • Thanks! It’s worth a visit if you’re ever back this way. It gets hot around here in the summer so it’s a good spot to cool off a little. 🙂

  3. Very interesting. About 30 years ago we were in northern Australia and there we went into some lava tunnels. These were large round tunnels that had been formed by lava that had poured through and left the tunnels. Now they are only occupied by bats!

    • Thanks, Anne! Yes, I’ve been in lava tube caves as well. The bats around here using the caves are suffering from a deadly fungus. I hope the bats in Australia aren’t suffering from the same thing. Bats are great at eating bugs that bug us. 🙂🦇

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