Hiking The Crack in the Ground

Category: Exploring Nature Item

Back to Christmas Valley and Vicinity

GPS Coordinates: 43.32508, -120.6652

Distance: 2 miles (3.2 km) roundtrip

Difficulty: Moderate to high.

Elevation Gain: 50 feet (213 m)

Seasons: Year-round, although paths can be blocked by fallen rock or covered in ice.

Despite its name, The Crack in the Ground is a volcanic fissure, the remnant of linear volcanic vent through which molten lava once flowed. These formations can also be known as fissure vents or eruption fissures.

This unique geological formation formed approximately 14,000 years ago during large scale volcanic activity throughout southern Oregon. The arid nature of the surrounding valley has helped preserve the fissure by limiting the destructive impact of erosion and encroaching vegetation. As a result, the Crack in the Ground appears similar to when it first formed.

The fissure is approximately two miles (3.2 km) long and drops to a depth of 70 feet (21.3 m) in some places. As the pathway can change dramatically along its length, exploring the Crack in the Ground requires moderate to extreme climbing, crouching and squeezing. If exploring the fissure, it is recommended that you wear sturdy hiking books and layered clothing. Because of its depth in places, the temperature within the Crack can be up to 20 degrees lower than the surrounding desert and you may encounter ice on the rocky surfaces even into the Springtime. Rock falls also occur in the fissure and can present a serious hazard to hikers.

Crack in the Ground is in a very isolated location with no services nearby. Practice your outdoor safety rules if you plan to explore this location.

Related Features: Fort Rock State Park | Hiking | Outdoor Etiquette | Outdoor Safety