Pilot Butte (Oregon)

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Pilot Butte
Highest point
Elevation4,142 ft (1,262 m) NAVD 88[1]
Prominence480 ft (150 m)[2]
Coordinates44°03′38″N 121°17′00″W / 44.060540764°N 121.283235542°W / 44.060540764; -121.283235542Coordinates: 44°03′38″N 121°17′00″W / 44.060540764°N 121.283235542°W / 44.060540764; -121.283235542[1]
Pilot Butte is located in Bend OR
Pilot Butte
Pilot Butte
Pilot Butte is located in Oregon
Pilot Butte
Pilot Butte
Pilot Butte (Oregon)
Parent rangeCascades
Topo mapUSGS Bend
Age of rockLess than 780,000 years[3]
Mountain typeCinder cone
Volcanic arcCascade Volcanic Arc
Easiest routeRoad

Pilot Butte is a lava dome that was created from an extinct volcano located in Bend, Oregon. It is a cinder cone butte which rises nearly 500 feet (150 m) above the surrounding plains. Bend is one of four cities in the United States to have a volcano within its boundaries. The other examples are Mount Tabor in Portland, Oregon, Jackson Volcano in Jackson, Mississippi, and Diamond Head in Honolulu.

The 114.22-acre (46.22 ha) Pilot Butte State Scenic Viewpoint, presented as a gift to the State of Oregon in 1928, is a Bend icon. Pilot Butte itself is a popular hiking destination with two trails to the summit, each gaining about 490 feet (150 m) in elevation. There is also a 1.8-mile (2.9 km) trail around the base of the butte. A scenic road also winds up and around the cone. In 2018, the park was the most visited Oregon state park east of the Cascade Mountains. From the top, the entire city of Bend is visible, as well as several major Cascade peaks. Most prominent are the Three Sisters, Broken Top, and Mount Bachelor, which are located about 20 miles (32 km) to the west. The City of Bend launches Fourth of July fireworks from Pilot Butte each year.[4]


Pilot Butte was named in 1851 by Thomas Clark, leader of the first party of European settlers to camp on the future site of Bend. The Clark wagon train approached the area from the east after recovering from the Clark massacre.

The butte was gifted to State of Oregon as a public park in 1928 by the daughter of Terrence Hardington Foley, the leader of the local Elks lodge until his death in a 1926 automobile accident, to whom the park is dedicated on a memorial tablet.[5]

In 2010, a 1.8-mile (2.9 km) trail was constructed around the base of the butte. The park had 949,968 annual visits in 2018, making it the most visited Oregon State Park east of the Cascade Mountains and the ninth most popular in the state.[6]

The view of Bend from Pilot Butte (2008)


Pilot Butte is believed to be less than 780,000 years old due to the rock having normal magnetic polarity, and thus was most likely laid down after the most recent geomagnetic reversal.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b "Pilot Butte". NGS data sheet. U.S. National Geodetic Survey. Retrieved April 2, 2008.
  2. ^ "Pilot Butte, Oregon". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved April 2, 2008.
  3. ^ "USGS Geologic Investigations Series Map I-2683, pamphlet" (PDF). U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Geological Survey. 2004. Retrieved October 28, 2018.
  4. ^ "July 4th Fireworks Spectacular". Bend Oregon Visitor Bureau for Hotels, Lodging, or Restaurants. Retrieved January 12, 2013.
  5. ^ "Pilot Butte Is Presented To State For Public Park". Bend Bulletin. October 1, 1928. Archived from the original on August 2, 2017. Retrieved June 28, 2021.
  6. ^ "The 20 most popular Oregon state parks in 2018". oregonlive.com. The Oregonian. Retrieved April 27, 2020.

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