In Central Oregon, autumn’s arrival is both a welcome reprieve from the heat of the summer and the early sign that winter is right around the corner. It’s an odd time when many of us here desperately try to hold on to some semblance of summer while our loved ones are across the room doing a snow dance. We’re seasonally conflicted.
But where we can agree is that autumn in Central Oregon is pretty awesome and thanks to perfect weather, fewer visitors and did we mention perfect weather, it might just be the best time of year to visit. Here’s a few highlights of the season to prove our point.
Smith Rock Cool Down
Smith Rock State Park in Terrebonne is one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon. But in the heat of the Central Oregon summer, it can feel like a furnace, turning away many visitors who don’t like the heat. Come fall, the scenery is just as beautiful (if not more photogenic) and the temperatures on the trails below the spires are much more pleasant. It’s also a great time to watch the rock climbers who also stay away during the summer months due to the heat of the rocks they’re trying to scale.
If there’s anything a golfer wants more than a perfect swing – it’s a good deal on green fees. Once the “shoulder season” begins here, many of our 30 golf courses drastically lower their rates – including Juniper Preserve, Crosswater and Tetherow – 3 of America’s Top 100 Public Courses according to Golf Digest. Even better is the fact that our amazing summer weather has created absolutely perfect golf course conditions that last well into the fall. Throw in easier-to-get-tee-times and autumn most definitely is the best time of year to hit the links in Central Oregon.
Hiking is the No. 1 thing people like to do in Central Oregon and in the middle of the summer, many of our popular trails can feel more like a walk in mall (albeit a very scenic mall.) Once school is back in session, the trail use thins out and you can once again have the forest seemingly all to yourself. From our urban trails close to town to some of the high alpine trails that close down at the first real sign of winter, you’ll be able to experience nature a little more like you probably envisioned.
The same can be said for our 300+ miles of mountain bike singletrack. With our sunny summer months come dusty and relatively busy trails. When the temperatures start to dip a little, the dirt firms up, creating some of the most ideal mountain biking conditions anywhere.
There’s no shortage of ways to get into the seasonal spirit here thanks to several local pumpkin patches that open the first part of October.
Smith Rock Ranch is a Central Oregon favorite for celebrating the fall harvest season. Operating as a regular farm throughout the year, during the October the Ranch opens to the public each Saturday and Sunday so guests can enjoy fun activities that include Pumpkin Picking, Zoo Train Rides, Petting Zoo, Archery Shoot, Miniature Golf, Farmer’s Market, Pumpkin Cannon Shoot, plus live entertainment and great food booths. Visitors can also challenge themselves to make their way through the paths of The Amazing Maize, a 7 acre corn field complete with bridges and spectacular views.
Smith Rock Ranch is also available for private parties and school or group field trips.
More inspiring stories, adventures, and tips & tricks for planning and experiencing the best Central Oregon has to offer.
Smith Rock Ranch & Other Fall Experiences in Terrebonne and Beyond
If you grew up in Central Oregon, chances are that you picked your perfect jack-o-lantern pumpkin at Smith Rock Ranch—a huge pumpkin patch with spectacular views located in Terrebonne. But this Central Oregon pumpkin patch wasn’t always so grand. Farmer Matt Lisignoli grew up as a city kid in northeast Portland, and dreamt up the idea to start his first pumpkin patch on a rented farm in Redmond in 1998. While some people thought Lisignoli was crazy to farm pumpkins in the high desert, the operation, then called Central Oregon Pumpkin Patch, was a success.
Fall is Prime Time for Central Oregon Fly Fishing for Steelhead on the Deschutes
It’s no accident that the fabled Oncorhynchus mykiss, aka steelhead trout, is dubbed the “fish of a thousand casts” It’s not uncommon for novice steelhead anglers to fish for years without ever tying into, let alone landing, one of these powerful and acrobatic sea-run rainbow trout. There’s also a reason why they keep trying.
Pumpkin Patches + Petting Zoos = Fall Family Fun
As soon as the first hint of autumn rolls around, my three kids ask on a regular basis when we can go to the pumpkin patch. This is not simply because they’re eager to gather Halloween décor. To my kids (all under the age of 12), fall means visiting the farm and getting all the animal petting, ropes course playing and barbecue eating they can squeeze into one afternoon.