Central Oregon has no shortages of places to unwind.
From the banks of a high-alpine lake to a trail alongside the Deschutes River, you don’t have to go very far from your hotel room to find an escape from the real world.
At Panacea at the Canyon near Terrebonne, your lodging is the escape; your tent an off-the-grid oasis that truly allows you to disconnect from the stresses of everyday life. Not only is the compound signal free, but you’re asked to leave your phones behind at check-in.
Relaxation, romance and adventure abound in a holistic natural spa setting where raw nature meets civilized luxury.
The 40-acre resort features 7 luxury tents complete with plush beds and linens, a private deck with chairs, gas fireplace, local and organic bath products to use in your private, on-suite open-air bathroom.
There’s a spa on site, as well as a relaxing pool that overlooks the property and the rugged scenery nearby.
Several dining options are available. You can bring food and cook your own meals in the upscale outdoor kitchen (including a brick-oven) or in the traditional kitchen inside. There’s a large fridge and freezer available as well. Saturday night is pizza night at the resort featuring a chef preparing made-to-order brick oven pizzas. You can even arrange to have meals brought to your tent (for an additional charge.)
Spend the weekend sitting on the deck or at the pool, or get out and explore what Central Oregon has to offer. Panacea coordinates an array of workshops and activities including hot air balloon rides, rock climbing, archery, horseshoes, yoga, birding and more.
If you’re a rock climber, Smith Rock State Park is probably already on your bucket list. People come from all over the world to take on “Monkey Face” — a 350-ft high pillar that’s an absolute hotspot for climbers.
But even if you never plan on shouting, ‘belay on!’ you’ve gotta get here. It’s one of those places where you so badly want to put your phone away and just connect with mother nature, but honestly you won’t be able to…words don’t do the park justice. Everywhere you look someone will be clicking — capturing their Smith Rock moment.
The park is just 26 miles north of Bend, outside a teeny town called Terrebonne. (Pro tip: grab a bite at Terrebonne Depot, one of the region’s best kept secrets.) When you get here you’ll be tempted to try and find a parking spot close to the trailhead. But remember, you’re here to hike! Do yourself a favor and just head straight to overflow parking, I promise it’ll save you a headache. After you buy a $5.00 day pass from one of the yellow machines (the one in the campground and overflow parking lot take debit cards) you’re good to go.
Before You Go:
Bring plenty of water, after you start on the actual trails there’s nowhere to fill up.
There’s a bathroom by where you park and another right before you start to really hike.
Dogs are allowed on a leash.
Wear hiking boots if you have them. Any workout shoes will be okay, but there’s a lot of loose gravel to deal with.
Alright, so here’s what you need to know about the hike to the top of Smith Rock. Misery Ridge is the first trail you’ll see after you cross the footbridge over the Crooked River. If you’re a seasoned hiker, you’ll be fine trekking up this trail. But for us normal folk, Misery Ridge can be a little…well, miserable.
If you have little kids or you’re hiking with an elderly person, you may want to stick to the trail that runs along the river (go left off of the footbridge). You’ll still have spectacular views, it’s just a little less of a commitment. If you really want to charge up Misery Ridge, toddler in tow, I suggest stopping frequently as the 1000-ft change in elevation can really take it out of you and there are no shortcuts back to the car.
That’s not the fun stuff to read about, but it’s nice to know what you’re getting into.
No matter what trail you take at Smith Rock, you’ll leave with a new appreciation of how awe-inducing the river, rocks and plants can be. It doesn’t have to be a blue-bird day either, ominous clouds only highlight bright green lichen covering the massive rock walls. But if you are lucky enough to get to the top on a clear day, you’ll be rewarded with a panoramic view of the Cascades. By the time you get back to your car, you’ll be the best kind of tired and have memories that will keep you coming back for more.
This tiny hamlet just north of Madras is the gateway to Smith Rock State Park and the birthplace of sport climbing in America. Terrebonne may be small, but many of the world’s top climbers have paid her a visit after clipping bolts at Smith Rock. Terrebonne is also a popular spot for some of the best fly-fishing on the Crooked River. This spectacular little place was one of the settings for the 2001 movie, Swordfish, starring John Travolta, Halle Berry and Hugh Jackman. The Terrebonne Depot restaurant, housed in a renovated 100-year-old train station, is another good reason to make your way there.
Must see: The beautiful rock formations at Smith Rock State Park, with climbers far up the sheer rock walls. Look for slackline walkers at Monkey Face teetering hundreds of feet in the air.
Must do: Stop for regional wine tasting at Maragas Winery, then treat yourself to local fare at Terrebonne Depot. Enjoy a scoop of world-famous huckleberry ice cream at Juniper Junction.
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. Golfers can take a short—and exhilarating—shot over the river canyon on one of the course’s signature holes. Everyone should hike out to the Crooked River overlooks or down to Steelhead Falls on the Deschutes River. Anglers will want to fly-fish the Foley Waters section of the Deschutes for native rainbow trout.
Must see: The view down into the Crooked River from Otter Bench.
The most historical town in Central Oregon, Prineville serves as the starting point for fishing trips along the Crooked River or the Prineville and Ochoco reservoirs. Camping, hiking and mountain biking are some of the area’s best in the Ochoco National Forest and Maury Mountains. Take in local history with a visit to the stately Crook County Courthouse, Central Oregon’s oldest public structure. Add in the Crooked River Roundup, the annual rodeo, and you get a sense of what makes Prineville authentic and Western. Fueled by economic growth from its new Facebook and Apple data centers, Prineville is experiencing a renaissance with more places to dine, a new brewpub and choice lodging.
Must see: The winding Crooked River as it flows from Prineville Reservoir into town.
Must do: Hit the Crooked River Round up in June or bring a gambling spirit to the Pari-Mutuel Horse Races in July.
The heart and soul of The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Warm Springs offers the new Indian Head Casino. For a cultural diversion, you’ll find one of the finest Native American art museums in the West. A short drive north is Kah-Nee-Ta Resort and Spa, noted for its warm water swimming pools, spa and blue ribbon fly-fishing. At the end of the day, the amenity-rich resort and spa has many paths to relaxation.
Must do: Take the plunge in the warm water pools at Kah-Nee-Ta Resort and Spa; naturally heated by hot springs.
From this Central Oregon hub, outdoor recreation enthusiasts can wade and fish the waters of the Deschutes, Metolius and Crooked rivers, or fish from their boats on Lake Billy Chinook. There’s camping on the lake at The Cove Palisades State Park. Nearby, there’s superb hiking on The Peninsula and The Island in the Crooked River National Grassland. For something completely different, take a drive north and east of Madras to the old mining town of Ashwood, a place where time has stood still.
Must see: The August Airshow of the Cascades with biplanes, military and vintage models taking to the air.
Must do: Spend a weekend on a houseboat at Lake Billy Chinook.
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, whitewater thrills, and this river town is a hive of recreational activity. In recent years, uptown Maupin has seen the addition of more lodging and dining amenities to make it more of a recreation destination.
Must see: Native Americans fishing from platforms below Sherars Falls.
Must do: Hit class-3 Boxcar Rapids, rafting the Lower Deschutes River with Imperial River Co.