Pumice Desert

Pumice Desert with a nearby rainbow and storm clouds
A rainbow and distant storm clouds join the unassuming beauty of Pumice Desert.

NPS Photo

Pumice Desert is the best-known dry meadow in the park. It is designated as a Research Natural Area (RNA) encompassing 3,055 acres. It is located along the North Entrance Park Road and is a notable landmark on the park map.

Prior to the cataclysmic eruption of Mt. Mazama over 7,700 years ago, Pumice Desert was a deep glacial valley. The valley was buried by pumice ejected during the eruptions and subsequent avalanches of pumice and scoria deposits. It is believed that these deposits exceed 200' in depth. The depth of these highly porous volcanic deposits hinders plant succession and contributes to the "desert"-like environment.

One of the primary reasons for establishing the Pumice Desert RNA is to study plant succession in a harsh environment. Plant cover is low and only 16 species of plants have been documented within its boundaries. The establishment of trees within the Pumice Desert has been and continues to be a very slow process.

More Pumice and Subalpine Meadows

Pumice meadow partially covered in melting snow
After winter snows has given way to sunshine pumice meadows like this one take time to  melt and start the short growing season.

NPS Photo

Aerial view of Pumice Desert
An aerial view of Pumice Desert highlights its expansiveness.

NPS Photo

Sun Notch is a grassy meadow surrounded by conifers
As the sun sets trees shadow the Sun Notch grassy meadow.

NPS Photo


Last updated: March 25, 2019

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