Winding waters cut through sunset-hued canyon walls that bind beauty with the promise of adventure in this rugged area that draws visitors from around the globe.
TERREBONNE: Terrebonne means “good earth” in French and this little town twenty-four miles north of Bend lives up to its name. This hamlet is home to one of the great natural wonders of Oregon, Smith Rock State Park. Watch climbers scale the towering spires while you spot golden eagles, prairie falcons and river otters along the hiking trails.
CROOKED RIVER RANCH: Located above the steep basalt canyon walls of the Deschutes River, Crooked River Ranch is best known for its golf, hiking, and fishing. Witness the tumbling waters of Steelhead Falls or fly-fish the Foley Waters section of the Deschutes River.
PRINEVILLE: Blending history and the future, Prineville is home to both Oregon’s oldest public structure and tech industry data centers. Fish the Crooked River or the Prineville and Ochoco reservoirs. Camp, hike and mountain bike in the Ochoco National Forest and Maury Mountains.
WARM SPRINGS: The heart and soul of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Warm Springs is the site of Indian Head Casino. For a cultural diversion, visit the namesake museum, one of the finest American Indian art museums in the West.
MADRAS – CULVER: These towns are a major hub for the fishing, boating, and hiking inclined. Anglers can wade into the flowing waters of the Deschutes, Metolius and Crooked rivers. Alternatively, spend a weekend on a houseboat at Lake Billy Chinook or RV Camp at The Cove Palisades State Park. Nearby, Lake Simtustus at Pelton Dam offers camping and swimming. Scenic Lower Deschutes River Steeped in American Indian heritage and rugged tradition, the vast open territory along the lower Deschutes River is prime cultural and outdoor adventure land. Hiking on federally managed and conserved land is stellar in the Crooked River National Grassland, where The Peninsula and The Island are standout landmarks.
MAUPIN: Redsides and rafting are the mainstays of Maupin. Redsides are the brilliantly colored, hard-fighting native Deschutes River trout that anglers obsess over. Add to that the whitewater thrills, and this river town is a hive for recreating. In recent years, Maupin has seen the addition of more lodging and dining amenities to make the town part of the draw.
SAMPLE WINTER ITINERARY:
When the rugged outdoorsman in each of us calls, it’s River Canyon Country you want to be. This remote area of Oregon blends wide open spaces with rugged beauty unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
Winter is prime fishing time on the Lower Deschutes near Maupin. The river is open year-round for hatchery steelhead and trout fishing, and come winter there are fewer people around, allowing you to commune with nature in a tranquil setting. Grab a license online from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and make sure to check the weather forecast — it can get chilly here. The area has two fly shops, the Deschutes Angler (open year round) and the Deschutes Canyon Fly Shop (closed in winter). Stay at the Imperial River Company or River Run Lodge for some local flavor and rustic charm. The Oasis Cabin Resort is another great option, offering cabins built and used to house railroad crews in the early 1900s during the state’s Railroad Wars.
On the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, you’ll find two powwows in January and February that will give you a cultural experience unlike any other. Another wonderful event nearby is the annual Eagle Watch, which takes place at Round Butte Overlook Park. The park provides incredible views of the Deschutes River Canyon, and that’s just the start — at Eagle Watch, experts point out golden and bald eagles, as well as horned owls.
You’ll get another dose of culture at the Museum at Warm Springs, which features a wide variety of Native American artifacts and beautiful exhibits.
Year round, you’re able to get up close and personal with more than two dozen vintage and historic planes at the Erickson Aircraft Collection, a museum on the north end of Madras. Madras, while small, is a unique and diverse community with a number of delicious Mexican restaurants — try Rio for a twist on the traditional fare.
In Prineville, snow dusts the picturesque Western town and makes for a perfect home base for a few winter adventures. The small city’s pretty downtown has a number of fun stores and restaurants, but make sure not to miss Barney Prine’s Steakhouse & Saloon, a dinner spot that feels old school with its nightly prime rib and big wedge salads. Prineville continues to develop its brewery scene, with Ochoco Brewing and Crooked River Brewing, which has great pizzas.
Prineville is very close to miles of national forests and grasslands, and an easy way to get outside in the winter is by hitting up the sledding slopes and trails at Mark’s Creek and Walton Lake sno-parks. Walton Lake has a network of cross-country ski trails, snowmobile trails and a small warming hut, while Mark’s Creek has a steep grade and elevation, allowing for excellent sledding. There’s also a communal fire ring near the base of the sledding hill.
Or stop in at Bowman Museum, devoted to Crook County history and filled with artifacts of the pioneers who settled here.