Diamond Craters

Outstanding Natural Area - Oregon

Diamond Craters, an Outstanding Natural Area has some of the most diverse basaltic volcanic features in the nation clustered within a small, accessible area. The area displays an entire range of eruptions possible in basaltic volcanism. It was formed sometime in the past 25,000 years and now resembles a thin, rocky pancake with a few bumps. Features identifiable at the Outstanding Natural Area include craters and vents, cinder cones, spatter cones, lava tubes, driblet spires, a graben, and a water-filled maar.
Diamond Craters ONA https://www.blm.gov/visit/diamond-craters-outstanding-natural-area https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diamond_Craters Diamond Craters, an Outstanding Natural Area has some of the most diverse basaltic volcanic features in the nation clustered within a small, accessible area. The area displays an entire range of eruptions possible in basaltic volcanism. It was formed sometime in the past 25,000 years and now resembles a thin, rocky pancake with a few bumps. Features identifiable at the Outstanding Natural Area include craters and vents, cinder cones, spatter cones, lava tubes, driblet spires, a graben, and a water-filled maar.
WILD ROGUE Welcome to Diamond Craters Outstanding Natural Area! Diamond Craters, an Outstanding Natural Area of 17,000 acres (23 square miles), has some of the most diverse basaltic volcanic features in the nation clustered within a small, accessible area. The area displays an entire range of eruptions possible in basaltic volcanism. It was formed sometime in the past 25,000 years and now resembles a thin, rocky pancake with a few bumps. Features identifiable at the Outstanding Natural Area include craters and vents, cinder cones, spatter cones, lava tubes, driblet spires, a graben, and a water-filled maar. Know before you go It took THOUSANDS OF YEARS of volcanic activity to form Diamond Craters, but only a few seconds can damage its features. Help BLM protect this area. Please do not destroy or collect plants, animals or rocks. no restroom facilities or other amenities. Bring your own water and shelter and follow Leave No Trace principles: pack it in, pack it out. keep your vehicle on hard-packed road surfaces and obvious parking areas. directions From Burns, take State Highway 78 southeast for approximately 2 miles. Turn right onto State Highway 205 and travel south for 46 miles to the Diamond Junction. Turn left at the junction and travel approximately 6 miles to the junction of Lava Bed Road and Happy Valley Road. Turn left onto Lava Bed Road to access Diamond Craters Outstanding Natural Area. Contact info point of interest 28910 Hwy 20 West Hines, OR 97738 541-573-4400 BLM_OR_BU_Mail@blm.gov Located in southeast Oregon’s high desert country, Diamond Craters is really unlike any other place in North America.
Text by Ellen M. Benedict, 1985 Travel And Hiking Hints Diamond Craters is located in the high desert country about 55 miles southeast of Burns, Oregon. It’s an isolated place and some precautions should be taken when traveling in the area. Diamond Craters has no tourist facilities. The nearest place where gasoline is sold is at Frenchglen. That’s the opinion held by scores of scientists and educators who have visited and studied the area. It has the “best and most diverse basaltic volcanic features in the United States and all within a comparatively small and accessible area,” one geologist summarized. Yet visitors with little or no geologic training will probably see nothing more than acres of sagebrush and a few lava flows and craters. This guide will help you to locate and interpret some of the outstanding features of Diamond Craters that you might otherwise overlook. You won’t be an accomplished geologist after finishing the tour, but you will have a greater appreciation for the area labeled by one scientist as “a museum of basaltic volcanism.” Keep your vehicle on hard-packed road surfaces and obvious parking areas. Certain roads and trails are closed for rehabilitation. Malheur Maar at stop 10. Be careful or you might spend time stuck in loose cinder, volcanic ash, or clay. If you go hiking, carry drinking water. Watch out for rattlesnakes. If you come upon one, stay calm and allow the snake to glide away. It took thousands of years of volcanic activity to form Diamond Craters, but requires only a few seconds of carelessness or thoughtlessness to destroy its features. Help the BLM to protect and preserve Diamond Craters. Please do not destroy or collect plants, animals, or rocks. How To Use This Guide In the left margin are numbered paragraphs corresponding to the thirteen stops along the 40-mile auto tour between State Highway 205 at Diamond Junction to State Highway 78 at Princeton. The mileage below each number tells the distance from the last stop. Use your odometer and the map to help locate stops. How did Diamond Craters form? Sometime in the last 25,000 years (geologists are not sure just when), molten basalt spilled from deep cracks in the earth called fissures, then flooded in a thin layer over a relatively dry lake bed. Before the initial layer cooled completely, more basaltic magma injected underneath, creating six arching structural domes. From here you can see two of the structural domes: Graben Dome (10:30 to 12 o’clock) and South Dome (9:30 to 10:30). Between here and the next stop, note the small bread-loaf shaped domes that are smallscale versions of the larger domes. Park at the edge of the road where you can see lava flows to either side. You are looking at a scene of both quiet and explosive basaltic eruptions. Lava flows, or streams of molten rock, at Diamond Craters contain an unusual diversity of features. Notice the wrinkled surface on the side of the pressure ridges (3 o’clock, close in). Imagine a runny, gaseous molten basalt flowing out in a thin layer, the crust chilling as the molten basalt remains red hot. The crust wrinkles – like the skin of a pudding – as the inside continues flowing. This is pahoehoe lava, noted for its smooth, wrinkled, ropy, or billowy surface. Park immediately on the hard-packed cinder by Big Bomb Crater, a restored cinder pit. Here you can see cored bombs, which are marble-to-baseball-sized rocks. As the hot magma rises up through water-soaked layers, the water instantly changes to steam, causing magma to explode and hurl rock fragments in the air. The fragments fall back into the developing cinder cone and roll down into the vent. This is repeated several times as the fragments become coated with younger molten rock. Do you see any bombs with glassy cores? The glassy cores were analyzed and appeared to have re-melted 17,000 years ago, suggesting that this cinder cone is that old. Please do not break open or collect the bombs. If you want to see the graben in Graben Dome, park here and hike up. Please, no vehicles. Even fourwheel drive vehicles will damage the area. Continue westward. As you round Big Bomb Crater, at about 0.2 miles, you’ll see the Lava Pit Crater Flow (10:30). Note that it resembles the rather flat shield of a Viking warrior. Features at stops correspond to points on a clock face. Imagine that you are standing in the middle of a clock face. Twelve o’clock is the road in front of you and 6 o’clock the road behind. If you always align the clock face with the road, you should be able to locate the features. . Start Tour. Mileage begins halfway between milepost 40 and 41 on State Highway 205 at the junction to Diamond. Turn left. Diamond, Oregon, a small ranching community, was named in 1874 for Mace McCoy’s Diamond brand. The nearby craters soon became known as Diamond Craters. You’ll cross the Central Patrol Road of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and the Blitzen River at 1.0 miles. The Blitzen River originates on Steens Mount
Narrows (Photo by Marcus Haines) Frenchglen (Photo by Bill Renwick) For further information, contact: BLM Diamond Loop USFWS • Harney County • ODOT National Back Country Byway Introduction How to Use this Brochure As you travel the Diamond Loop Back Country Byway, you will find a patchwork of high desert terrains. From the deep blues of mountain vistas and the dusky sagecovered hills, to the red rimrock canyons and the grassy reaches of marshes and valleys, you will find 69 miles of new adventure waiting for you. This brochure offers the option of three starting points: • Near Princeton on State Highway 78 (north) • The junction of State Highway 205 and Diamond Lane (west) • Frenchglen on State Highway 205 (south) Check the map in this brochure or at the byway interpretive shelters to determine your location. Then choose the route that will take you to the features you want to explore and some you didn’t even know existed. If you are a wildlife watcher, keep an eye out for wild horses, mule deer, or pronghorn antelope. Bring along your binoculars to spot the waterfowl, shorebirds, hawks, and eagles that traverse the Pacific Flyway through the area. Whether you are exploring a lava flow, stopping at small historic towns, or passing the ranches scattered throughout the valleys between the Steens and Riddle mountains, you will travel back country roads that lead to attractions right out of the ‘Old West.” Little Red Cone, Diamond Craters Tips for Travelers • Bureau of Land Management Burns District Office 28910 Hwy 20 West Hines, Oregon 97738 541-573-4400 www.blm.gov/or/districts/burns • Burns District • • • • BLM/OR/WA/AE-09/080+1132.22 Public Lands USA: Use, Share, Appreciate Inside Round Barn Road conditions in the area can change without notice. Be cautious when going up or down the grade between Diamond and Happy Valleys. Please respect private property. Do not wander onto meadows and ranchlands without getting permission from landowners. During spring and fall, watch for cattle herds on the byway. If you see something of interest and you wish to stop, drive your vehicle onto the road shoulder as far as safely possible, or choose a pull-out to get completely off the road. Be aware of others who may have done the same, particularly during the spring waterfowl migration. Respect natural and cultural artifacts. Leave them as you found them. Nearest gas and food is at The Narrows on Highway 205 at the turnoff to the Malheur Refuge headquarters. Time to Explore.Time . . to Explore.Time . . to Explore. . . Round Barn Diamond Craters The Peter French Round Barn, circa 1880s, was built by cattle baron Peter French for training ranch horses during the winter months. The barn’s unusual design is perfectly suited to its purpose. It is 100 feet in diameter, has a 60-foot round stone corral surrounded by a 20foot wide outer circle paddock, and has an umbrellatype center truss with centrally supported rafters. The structure is located on land donated to Oregon State parks by the Jenkins family who opened a visitor center and museum nearby in 2004. Diamond Craters, an Outstanding Natural Area of 17,000 acres, has some of the most diverse basaltic volcanic features in the nation clustered within a small, accessible area. Also named for Mace McCoy’s diamond brand, the area displays an entire range of eruptions possible in basaltic volcanism. This volcanic area was formed some time in the past 25,000, with some of the eruptions taking place as late as 1,000 years ago. With the brochure specifically designed for a self-guided tour, you will be able to identify craters and vents, cinder cones, spatter cones, lava tubes, driblet spires, a graben, and a water-filled maar. Kiger Mustangs The Kiger mustangs, thought to be one of the purest herds of Spanish mustangs existing in the wild today, may be the descendents of the Spanish Barb horses brought to North American in the late 16th century. Among their unique physical characteristics are dun and buckskin colored coats, zebra stripes on knees and hocks, hooked ear tips, and fine muzzles. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has developed a wild horse viewing area accessible to high clearance vehicles from Happy Valley Road and passable only in dry weather. The Kigers and other mustangs can occasionally be seen at BLM’s wild horse corrals. Tours of the facility, located on U.S. Highway 20/395 a few miles west of Hines, can be arranged at the BLM Burns District Office in Hines. Town of Diamond Diamond, a small ranching community named for Mace McCoy’s diamond brand, was established as a major supply center for ranchers, sheepmen, and travelers. At its peak, the town had a population of about 50. Today the town is almost deserted except for the newly renovated Hotel Diamond, the school, a modern community building, and a few residences. A row of 100-year-old poplar trees still shades the McWilliams’ home. A stone building constructed by Charles Hawki

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