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What is the Crack-in-the-Ground in Christmas Valley, OR?




Another interesting geological formation in Lake County.

The Crack-in-the-Ground is one of the many geological attractions in Lake County, Oregon. Managed by the Bureau of Land Management, it has a small dirt parking lot with an on-site bathroom, a well-beaten path, and beautiful views.

The Crack-in-the-Ground is a volcanic fissure formed long ago and preserved in the high-desert surroundings around Christmas Valley, OR. There is a 2-mile-long hiking trail that runs through the formation that goes as far down as 70 feet below the surface; the average width between the stone walls is 10 ft.

Visitors will have to traverse a rocky dirt road that leads up the hills surrounding the basin area where Christmas Valley and Fort Rock are located. The parking area and start of the hiking trail are around five miles from Christmas Valley and 102 miles southeast of Bend. Once visitors are past the short, rocky, hundred-foot climb, they will be on a smoother dirt road that winds its way to the trailhead within a couple of miles — higher clearance vehicles are needed for the rocky area (a Subaru Outback works well). The elevation is 4,500 ft.

The basin area where the town of Christmas Valley is located doesn’t have many trees and is full of sagebrush, yet in the surrounding hills where the location is visitors will find mostly juniper trees and sparse forests mixed with sagebrush throughout the area.

The Crack-in-the-Ground is free for visitors and is usually not very busy. The temperatures within the opposing stone walls can get up to 20 degrees cooler than on the surface. This makes it a nice place to visit in the summer heat.



The trail is rated moderate by the BLM, as it sometimes requires traversing over large boulders and through tight spaces. The many cracks within the larger opening lead to visible openings many feet below the trail; these are interesting to observe yet could lead to dogs and children getting stuck and or falling into them.

The trail goes through two main cracks, allowing visitors to see the beautiful surroundings above. The middle and end intervals allow visitors to stop and rest, have a picnic, let the sun warm them, and/or rest in the shade of the trees. The view on top of the small plateau makes for good pictures.


If visitors want to camp, there is the Green Mountain Campground about 10 miles further into the area where there are six campsites, a toilet, and picnic tables. The campground is elevated above the surrounding area and gives a great view. Otherwise, there are many other dirt roads in the area where visitors can venture out and find camp.


The Crack-in-the-Ground is open year-round, yet the roads might be inaccessible with snow and wet weather. Overall, it is a great place to visit and find some respite from the hustle and bustle of city life and spend some time with family, friends, and dogs.

Originally published at NewsBreak


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