Smith Rock State Park
Smith Rock is one of the most breathtaking natural wonders of Central Oregon. Formed from rock that settled out of volcanic eruptions, Smith Rock rises like a rampart out of the high desert along the Crooked River just north and east of Redmond. Smith Rock is a destination for climbers who love to scale its many challenging routes, but it also offers a lot to hikers who want a quiet stroll by the river in the shadow of fascinating sculpted rock formations. To get there head east on Highway 126 to Redmond, then turn north on Highway 97 and drive about five miles to Terrebonne. Follow the signs to Smith Rock State Park. For more information visit
Newberry National Volcanic Monument
Just south of Bend lies a surreal jumble of rock that reveals the fascinating volcanic nature of the Central Oregon region. Lava Lands Visitor Center is the interpretive hub for the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. From here you can hike the Trail of the Molten Land, a universally accessible hike that describes the various types of lava to be found. Eleven new full color interpretive signs tell the story of the eruption of Lava Butte. Just down the road is Lava River Cave, a nearly mile-long lava tube. Access to the cave is down a long series of stairs with guard rails. For more information and directions make an Internet search engine request for “Lava Lands Visitor Center.”
Sahalie & Koosah Falls
If you're looking for a classic Oregon Cascades waterfall, you'll find it just a short drive west from Sisters. The McKenzie River roars and plunges over Sahalie Falls in a white torrent, then twists down a rocky canyon before leaping again off the cliffs of Koosah Falls. The falls are spectacular and have been used as scenes in several movies. The falls are very accessible, with developed parking areas and a viewing platform at Sahalie that is easy to get to for just about anyone. It's a great way to spend an afternoon with a picnic lunch. To get there drive west on Highway 20 from Sisters to the Santiam Junction. Head west on Highway 126 5.2 miles and follow the signs into the Sahalie Falls parking area.
Folks looking for a day of water recreation can head south to Sunriver Resort to splash around at SHARC, Sunriver Homeowners Aquatic & Recreation Center. The brand new, state-of-the-art facility features outdoor and indoor pools, a lazy river, two water slides, an outdoor adult hot tub, tot splash and play areas, event space that includes an amphitheater for live music, a café, park, picnic areas, playground, bocce ball court, basketball court, and a year-round tubing hill. For directions and information on rates for the general public, visit www.sunriversharc.com.
Museum At Warm Springs
The Museum At Warm Springs is located near Shitike Creek, just off Highway 26, on the Warm Springs Reservation. The award-winning museum highlights the history of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. June 21-September 16 see Warm Springs beaded tapestries. The Museum's Twanat Interpretive Trail meanders along Shitike Creek. Visitors on the Trail walk through one of the oldest cottonwood galleries in Oregon, designated as an East Cascade Birding Trail. www.museumatwarmsprings.com.
Take home a piece of Central Oregon and have a lot of family fun doing it. One of the most popular areas for collecting obsidian is the Glass Buttes area on the BLM Burns District. The area is very rugged, remote, and primitive (four-wheel-drive vehicle advised). Head east on Highway 20, through Bend, then turning south, off Highway 20 onto the dirt road at milepost 77 which leads to the interior. For more information visit www.blm.gov/or/districts/burns or call 541-416-6700.
High Desert Museum
Meet live eagles, owls, bobcat, porcupines, otter and more live animals as you learn all about them. Chat with stagecoach drivers, explorers and pioneers at a re-created frontier ranch and settlement town. Explore indoor exhibits and outdoor educational trails on 135 forested acres. Sensory-filled, hands-on programs inspire all ages with the nature and culture of our region. Have lunch at the Rimrock Cafe and shop the store for unique artisan jewelry, chic Western gear, educational toys and books. Off Hwy. 97 South, just five minutes past Bend. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, May 1 – Oct. 31. and Nov. 1 – April 30, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. 541-382-4754, www.highdesertmuseum.org.
2.5 hours’ drive (about 140 miles) from Sisters lies one of the jewels in America’s crown of National Parks. With its deep blue waters and sheer cliffs towering 2,000 feet at lake’s edge, Crater Lake offers some of the most spectacular vistas and fascinating geological history in the United States. The area is buried deep in snow for much of the year; the best time to visit is from mid-July through August. Take Highway 20 east to Highway 97 south, and Route 138 west to the park’s north entrance. For more information visit www.nps.gov/crla or Crater Lake Lodge at www.craterlakelodge.com.
Lake Billy Chinook
Lake Billy Chinook is a popular destination for camping, fishing, and water sports like boating, water-skiing and kayaking. Cove Palisades State Park offers boating facilities in three large day-use areas, a full-size marina and miles of hiking trails where you can explore the fascinating geology of the area. The lake is vast, offering lots of opportunities to explore its various arms. The Metolius River spills into the lake from the west. It's hot here in the summertime and mild in the winter, making it a viable year-round destination. Take Highway 126 to Redmond, turn north on Highway 97 and turn off at Culver. The drive is a bit over an hour-and-a-half from Sisters.
Fort Rock Fort Rock, a National Natural Landmark, rises like a fortress palisade out of Oregon’s high desert about a two-hour drive southeast of Sisters. An enormous near-circle of towering jagged rock walls give the landmark its name. While it looms huge to the eye, its true dimensions are best appreciated by hiking around it. Sandals found in a nearby cave are the oldest ever discovered, dating back around 9,000-13,000 years. For more information and directions visit www.oregonstateparks.org or call the Lake County Chamber of Commerce at 541-947-6040. Take Highway 20 east to Bend, then Highway 97 south. Cut southeast on Highway 31 to Silver Lake.
Kah-Nee-Ta Resort is located off Highway 26 on the 600,000-acre Warm Springs Reservation just two hours from Portland and one hour north of Redmond. The resort features a 136-room lodge and 30 rooms in its village, teepee camping, RV park, Casino, 18-hole golf course, European-style spa, dining, lounge bar, two pools including a hot-springs-fed, double Olympic swimming pool, hiking trails, horseback riding and more. The resort is open year-round.
Call 1-800-554-4786 or go to www.kahneeta.com.