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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.