Why do People Visit Hole-in-the-Ground, Oregon?
Hole-in-the-Ground, Oregon, is a volcanic and geologic natural feature that draws people from far and wide.
But it’s just a hole in the ground, so what’s the big deal?
Let’s find out!
What is Hole-in- the-Ground?
Technically, Hole-in-the-Ground is a mile-wide crater caused by a volcanic explosion between 13,000 and 100,000 years ago. Its floor is about 500 feet below ground level, and its rim rises between 110 to 210 feet above ground level. In addition, it’s a perfect circle.
So, in other words, it’s a huge, cool hole in the ground.
Where is Hole-in-the-Ground?
The crater is in Central Oregon about seven miles from Fort Rock. This makes it just over an hour’s drive from the popular destination town of Bend and about 4.5 hours from Portland.
Reviewers suggest having a high-clearance vehicle as the road from the highway is two miles of rutted gravel. Also, note that winter weather may make it inaccessible.
People have apparently stolen the direction signs, so others are having a difficult time finding the hole. Some have had to leave the area without actually finding it. That’s a shame. So we thought we’d provide directions here from Ken E, a reviewer who was kind enough to share the information.
“Head south from La Pine on Highway 31. Turn East (left) onto Black Cinder Road at milepost 22. No signs, about 4 1/2 miles to the “Hole.” Or, you can follow Google Maps, dirt roads and a little over 2 miles off of the pavement. (Pay attention though.)”
If you use Google Maps, you can get directions to ‘Hole In The Ground Vista Point’ turning off Highway 31 at NF Road 200. However, the route is a bit windy with more spur roads to increase confusion. Or, navigate to ‘Hole in the Ground’ (minus the Vista Point). You’ll go a little farther south on the highway and turn left onto NF Road 3125. This route has fewer side roads to mistakenly turn down and is less windy.
Things to Do at Hole-in-the-Ground
Entrance to Hole-in-the-Ground is free and it’s so out of the way that you’ll see very few people there if any. Most people go to experience the unique crater and even do some bird-watching. Be sure to bring your camera!
Once you get there, you can drive around the rim and even down into the center. Again, you’ll want a high-clearance vehicle for this.
Alternatively, you can park and hike down one of the trails onto the crater’s floor. These are approximately one mile out and back and good for nearly anyone. The elevation there is 4,600 feet and you’ll have an elevation gain coming back up from the bottom of about 400 feet. You can also choose to hike the two-mile rim road.
Nearby Places to Explore
Central Oregon is a geology or volcano buff’s dream. Crack in the Ground is a nearby volcanic fissure that’s over two miles long and can get up to 70 feet deep. Lava Cast Forest is a lava field where some ancient Ponderosa Pines were covered in lava and their rock shells remain suspended in time.
For those of you who enjoy soaking in hot springs, East Lake and Paulina Lake are both just over an hour north of the Hole. In addition, Fort Rock State Natural Area offers an amazing trek through a large stone formation big enough to be a natural fort.
Bend, about an hour north of Hole-in-the-Ground, offers the experiences and amenities of a good-sized town. It’s known for its craft breweries, excellent restaurants, and outdoor adventures. You’ll find people hiking, biking, kayaking, and river rafting in the summer. During winter, they’ll be downhill skiing at one of the nearby resorts, cross-country skiing, gallery hopping, and tasting the many fine beers and food.
Pro Tip: Once you’ve seen the Hole-in-the-Ground, road trip to Crater Lake National Park. Check out these Best Free Camping Near Crater Lake National Park.
Best Nearby Campgrounds
There’s not a lot in the area of Hole-in-the-Ground, but one or two RVs can boondock right there. It’s on Deschutes National Forest land, so check in with the rangers before you decide to stay the night. As we’ve mentioned before, you’ll need high clearance to get there.
Rockhorse Park at Horse Ranch is about 20 minutes south and offers full hookups with 50-Amp service. It has good to excellent reviews on several sites.
La Pine is about 40 minutes Northwest of the Hole and offers several options for RVers, such as Hidden Pines RV Park and La Pine State Park. It’s a great small town to use as a base camp for exploring Central Oregon.
In addition, it’s easy to find lodging in Bend. From tent-camping and RVing to golf resorts and B&Bs, there’s a place to stay for everyone.
Pro Tip: Don’t get stuck at your campground unable to upload your photos of Hole-in-the-Ground to Facebook! Here’s how to get Unlimited Internet for RV Camping.
Is a Trip to Hole-in-the-Ground Worth It?
We wouldn’t suggest driving from Maine just to visit Hole-in-the-Ground. However, if you’re exploring Central Oregon or hanging out in Bend for a bit, we think you’ll enjoy this unique experience. Have you ever been to Hole-in-the-Ground?
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