Crooked River Canyon

Crooked River

One of the can’t-miss features of Crooked River Ranch is Crooked River Canyon. I say can’t-miss because nearly everywhere on the ranch the canyon wall is obvious.  There are multiple lookout locations with established overlooks. At least two paths to hike to the bottom and of course. As you already know from our arrival picture, the canyon wall is right out our front window.

Crooked River Ranch is pretty much at the center of Oregon geographically. It is north of Redmond Oregon, which is north of Bend. Here is our post from 2018 describing Bend.

Crooked River Canyon
Crooked River Canyon

Life at Crooked River Ranch

Life here for the residents (and us visitors) is best described as calm. The high desert is cold, but not too cold in the winter. Likewise in the summer it is generally hot in the day and cool at night. One of our friends here only has a room air conditioner. They close up the house in the day and re-open all the doors and windows at about sunset to keep the house comfortable. Heat in the winter for them is provided by using the tires on their RV to go south to Arizona.

Here is our Campsite Review of Crooked River Ranch.


We have made multiple short hikes from our RV which is at the Crooked River Ranch RV Park. We have seen and saw a few deer, multiple rabbits, one bull snake, owls. On each walk we have been on the lookout for sheep – but haven’t seen one yet. There are two kinds of sheep here on the ranch. The Big Horn (historical range) and a semi-domestic sheep, released here in the 1960s called a Mouflon.  I am assured that the Mouflon are still here, but one local says that she hasn’t seen one for two years. 

Mule deer

Hollywood Road

We also made one big hike down the canyon on a trail that is known as Hollywood Road.  At least it was a road. Time, erosion and rock slides have all taken a small one-way road and turned it into a trail.  The BLM owns the canyon and Hollywood Road is the primary way in. 

The story has it, pertaining to Hollywood Road, is that it was created back in the 1960s as part of the movie The Way West, starring Kirk Douglas, Bob Mitchum, and a still teenage Sally Fields. The story goes that the price for filming on the ranch was building the road, thus the name. The movie is about a wagon train that started in Oklahoma on the journey to Oregon. 

Steelhead Falls
Crooked River 7

The road, which had a thin layer of asphalt, is now nearly impassable due to sagebrush and large rocks. The asphalt is nearly all gone. The “road” remains the best way to go down to the river from the rim. 

This morning we drove to the west end of the canyon and made a second hike, which we thought was going down to the river, but after two miles on a secondary bench, all we got was a good view. Which was fine, I wasn’t really looking for another climb out of the canyon. 

Steelhead Falls

Also just to the west of Crooked River Ranch, we made a two-mile hike down to a place called Steelhead Falls on the Deschutes River. It was was very pretty. This hike was easier and was on the Deschutes River – not the Crooked River.  The ranch eastern boundary is Crooked River and the western boundary is the Deschutes River.  The ranch has gradually turned from sagebrush plateau to scattered homes with plenty of room between neighbors. The two rivers flow north combining at Billy Chinook reservoir where it also combines with the Metolius River. Further north of the dam, the Deschutes River flows about 120 miles to the Columbia River just to the east of Mount Hood.

Steelhead Falls
Steelhead Falls

Reservation uncertainty

Tomorrow we strike out for the Columbia River, moving north about a hundred miles. We will be staying at the Deschutes Recreation Area, which is where the Deschutes River meets the Columbia River. This is an Oregon State Park and getting this reservation was very uncertain.

When we first planned our stay in Oregon, all the state parks were expecting to open by the middle of May. Every one of our five stops was gradually canceled. Our stop at Deschutes Recreation Area was the most uncertain.  Here is a quick timeline in bullet form just to cut the story short.

  • Reservations made starting on June 8.
  • Oregon canceled our reservation, refund promised — but not issued.
  • Reservation reestablished — if I was willing to show up late on June 9, but first come first serve campers could show up on June 8. (Why not us too? – nobody knows)
  • Reservation reestablished but first come first serve campers could show up prior – to the June 8, but no one knows how much prior to June 8.
  • I called the Ranger at the park and told him he was going to open – he didn’t know.
  • The Ranger texts me and says first come first serve is welcome on June 5.

On the same day as our reservation was reestablished, the federal government told me my reservation 20 miles east, also starting on June 8, was cancelled. Of course, we would love to stay at Deschutes Recreation Area starting on June 8, especially since now we don’t have any other locations picked out.  Just north of the Columbia River, in Washington, it doesn’t seem that they were whipsawed by uncertainty nearly as much.

9 thoughts on “Crooked River”

  1. Life seems full of un-certainties these days. We had to cover the raised bed garden with plastic last night. It was below 30 degs and a dusting of snow.
    Any idea yet as to your route after Glacier? Will you continue east or head south for warmer weather?
    Safe travels.

    1. After Glacier, our plan is to head south via Great Falls until we get to Provo Utah.

      After that, mostly south. Fall will be right around the corner, and we don’t like snow anymore.

    1. One of the reasons we send out updates so that when we get close to people we know — we can get together. I guess I’m not smart enough (or perhaps predictable enough) to come up with a different method.

      Getting together is especially hard when the people we would love to see are also traveling.

      We have almost crossed paths with so many people that we have met, only to miss them by a few days.

      So let us know when we are close, our plan is from here to Bellingham, then east to Glacier and then south at the end of summer through Provo, moving about 150+ miles per week trying to outrun winter.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *