Exploring the High Desert of Central Oregon

The longest part of the journey last week that my friend from NYC and I traveled was to the high deserts of eastern Oregon. I wanted to show him some landscapes that would astound him (or anyone for that matter). Our journey started down the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Highway from the west end along the Oregon side on Interstate 84, one of the most scenic by-ways in America. Being pressed for time to arrive at our hotel destination for the night, we didn’t stop to take in the many, marvelous tourist sights and attractions along the way. I figured that we could do that on our way back. The one thing that I did want to show my friend was a majestic view of Mount Adams, which is actually located in Washington. We crossed over one of the many bridges over the Columbia River at the city of The Dalles, located in eastern Oregon, and we traveled along scenic Highway 14 on the Washington side of the gorge. We made a brief stop at Columbia Hills State Park to view Native American petroglyphs before heading north on Route 97 toward Goldendale. Once you reach the top of the gorge, looping through picturesque undulating hills, a vast rural valley spreads before you with Mount Adams towering at over 12,000 feet.

Also of interest are the many windpower farms along the eastern end of the Columbia River Gorge in both Washington and Oregon. They make for quite picturesque photos.

We scooted back across the Columbia River into eastern Oregon via the Biggs Bridge, also known as the Sam Hill Memorial Bridge, and climbed our way out of the gorge via Route 97. The drive from there is miles and miles of farm land and cattle grazing land and not much else until one comes to the cities of Madras and Redmond.  We did made a quick stop along the way at Smith Rock State Park, a popular hiking and rock climbing destination in the high desert. From Redmond, we headed east to the city of Prineville, our overnight destination, before heading further east in the morning. This area is real cowboy country! We stayed at the cozy Rustler’s Inn. The following morning, we headed east over and through the Ochoco National Forest and Mountains. What a view coming down the other side of the mountains! From there on it’s all open desert country with spectacular rock formations to include every color of the rainbow. Included in this area is the vast John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. This is one of those “must see to believe” scenarios. Photos will not do justice, even if they are “dolled up.” Some of the areas such as the Painted Hills and Blue Basin are surrealistic, if not “out of this world.” I’ll conclude this post with a few interesting shots of the area. Enjoy!

All images property of Peggy A Thompson

About northwestphotos

A long time resident of Washington State, located in the beautiful Pacific Northwest USA. I enjoy regional travel, exploring all the wondrous, natural settings that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. If you get a chance, visit my Northwestphotos Zazzle store, http://www.zazzle.com/northwestphotos.
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13 Responses to Exploring the High Desert of Central Oregon

  1. Hutch says:

    I love that place. Amazing to think that whole was under water at one time.

  2. I love this area as well. Too bad it’s such a long drive from where I live. I would immerse myself in it more often if I lived closer. Yes, it is a interesting fact that the area was covered with water millions of years ago.

  3. samacwns says:

    I love the layers in the last picture!

  4. I have heard a little about that area, but you’ve done better than anything else I’ve read about it. I can’t believe that with as beautiful as it is, that area isn’t more popular, but, maybe that’s a good thing. I have to make it out there one of these days, if only I can get through the Rockies without using up all my time.

    • Thank you for your kind comment. I think the reason that the area isn’t more popular is because it is in the middle of nowhere and there is not much in the way of lodging, fuel, etc. It’s a very unforgiving place during the summer with the temperatures broiling. After all, it is desert. The prettiest time to visit is in the early spring when the desert flowers are in bloom (April) I hope you get to visit someday. Oregon is a most beautiful state from coast to mountains to deserts.

  5. I love wind farms. We have billions and billions of them in the Southern California desert here, most near Palm Springs.
    I love the Pacific Northwest, but don’t tell any of my San Diego friends.

  6. I like the wind farms too. They can make a plain, uninteresting area look interesting. There’s something intriguing about their imposing stature that makes me want to stop and gaze at them for a while.

  7. How could anybody be unmoved after seeing photos like these…….beautiful!

    • Thank you for your gracious comments! As I stated, one needs to see this place in person. You just can’t imagine enough by viewing photos alone. It’s mind numbing, to put it plainly.

  8. abu zar says:

    painted hills looks amazing. I’ve to go see it 🙂

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