Oregon is one of our favorite places to visit. It is a surprisingly geographically diverse state. There is the eastern high desert, the Columbia Gorge, the central Cascade Mountains, and the rocky coastal region. We have written about Central Oregon before including posts about Smith Rock State Park and the wonderful High Desert Museum.
One of the most popular and growing areas in the state is Central Oregon within sight of the wonderful Cascade mountain range. We left our camping spot east of here at the Ochoco Divide and continued west on US 26. At Prineville, the road splits and we took highway 126 on into Redmond, Oregon. We had views of the mountains almost the entire way into Redmond, which is just north of Bend.
The Cascade Mountains have become one of Oregon’s playgrounds with plenty of hiking, kayaking, tubing, mountain biking, and snow skiing. Resorts, coffeehouses, breweries, and trendy shops add to the allure. The heart of the area is the town of Bend but there are plenty other popular places nearby, such as Sun River, La Pine, Redmond, and Sisters. Yes, there is a town called Sisters which lies in the shadow of the imposing and snow-capped Three Sisters Mountains.
One of the reasons we wanted to visit Redmond, Oregon was to see some wonderful friends, Jim and Jan. We have bumped into them many times on the road and were excited to see them again.
We happened to be in Redmond for Independence Day and were surprised to learn that the city wants to be called “Flag City, USA.” It is quite a sight to see over 125 very large flags lining the main streets in town to honor our country. Volunteers gather to place the flags along the city streets during holidays and “other special occasions.”
In addition to the flag lined streets, Redmond organized a “Patriotic Porch Parade” complete with an on-line map of the locations that had decorated their houses for the event. This was the town’s response to not having their traditional parade due to Covid-19. We were able to check out some of the houses.
The community did a great job and had plenty of decorated houses. This house had a huge flag draped over the front.
One of our day trips was to hike along the McKenzie River Trail which is on the west side of the Cascade range. This area is remote and has a beautiful river with extraordinary falls. Two popular waterfalls are the Sahalie Falls and the Koosah Falls.
The McKenzie River’s water is, in many places, an emerald green and blue color that is beautiful. It took us a while to hike the trail because we constantly wanted to stop and take pictures.
The Sahalie Falls along the trail is the highest at 120 feet and you can hear the roar from quite far way. The Koosah Falls is also impressive and is close by.
We ate our picnic lunch near the river and then traveled down to check out the Belknap Hot Springs area. This spot is considered a resort with a pool, cabins, campsites, trails, restaurant, and gardens. It is situated along the McKenzie River and has a bucolic setting. Imagine backing up your camper and parking with this view of the river.
We crossed the river on a pedestrian bridge and took a short hike to find what is called the Secret Garden. The forest canopy is immense and the garden is surprisingly isolated.
As we headed back to Redmond, we stopped to hike along Clear Lake. Even though it was a weekday, there were plenty of people enjoying the lake. I suppose that, during the Covid-19 crisis, being outdoors in nature is one of the best ways to get out without posing a risk to others and many are taking advantage of this.
The lake is a beautiful blue with Mount Washington peaking out above the tree tops.
There are so many things to do in this area that you could spend many weeks exploring. It definitely takes more than one post to even hit the high points. In upcoming blogs we are able to do some kayaking along the Deschutes River and travel the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway.