History on Display: 4 Can’t Miss Museums in Central Oregon

Central Oregon has a rich and interesting history dating back, oh, a few thousand years (see: Lava Lands). But beyond the geological beauty abound (see also: Smith Rock) there’s a great bit of human history that pre-dates settlers along the Oregon Trail. We’re lucky to have a handful of exceptional museums with carefully curated artifacts to help tell the story of Central Oregon.

Here are 4 museums you can’t miss during your Central Oregon visit.

Erickson Aircraft Collection

Erickson Aircraft Collection

The Erickson Aircraft Collection in Madras proudly displays a vintage aircraft collection started by Jack Erickson in 1983. The collection features over twenty rare aircraft, most of which are still in flying condition. The newly named Collection will feature rare aircraft that are still in flying condition such as the P-38 Lightning, P-51 Mustang, Ki43 Hayabusa, F4U Corsair, SBD Dauntless, Grumman Duck and B-17 Flying Fortress.

Des Chutes Historical Museum

The Deschutes Historical Museum features exhibits that allow you to explore Deschutes County prehistory; area Native American tribal history; early exploration and fur trapping; homesteading the High Desert; logging and Forest Service history; and life throughout Deschutes County over the years. The museum also hosts an annual Haunted History Tour in the weeks leading up to Halloween.

Hawk in flight during show at High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon

High Desert Museum

Whether you’re three or 93, there’s something for everyone at the High Desert Museum.

See birds of prey, the porcupine exhibit, a bobcat and more. Check out our collection of desert dwellers in the Desertarium. Visit with living history characters at the 1904 Miller Family Ranch. Explore High Desert history and culture in our permanent exhibits. Enjoy watching the river otters in their newly renovated Autzen Otter Exhibit. The Museum is set on 135 beautiful wooded acres just south of Bend. It’s no wonder the Museum is ranked the #1 thing to do in Bend by TripAdvisor.

Museum at Warm Springs

Visitors to The Museum at Warm Springs will experience firsthand the sounds of ancient songs and languages, the mastery of traditional craftsmen and the sights of rich and colorful cultures that make up the Confederated Tribes of The Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon.

The three Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation – Warm Springs, Wasco and Northern Paiute, created this museum to sustain their cultures and preserve their traditions for their children and visitors.  The museum is a vital part of the Warm Springs tribal community.  Once you are done indoors you can stroll the 1/4 mile Twanat Interpretive Trail to learn about the plants, animals, fish and geology.

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