Grant's Getaways: The Oregon Hoodoos

The Oregon Hoodoos

Grant’s Getaways takes us to Central Oregon and a river prized for fishing, camping and unique outdoor adventures including a stop at one of the Oregon’s stranger scenic sites. Grant shows off The Oregon Hoodoos.

What is it about Oregon’s rivers – they simply fascinate us: they offer cool, restful moments along their shady shorelines – but there’s more if you know where to look.

That’s especially true near Camp Sherman where the Metolius River bubbles from the ground to curl and wind along an 8600-acre river corridor.

It is so special a place that it’s been protected as one of America’s Wild and Scenic Rivers since 1988.

Jeff Perin, local fishing guide and owner of The Fly Fishers Place  in nearby Sisters, likes it that way.

Jeff often goes to the Metolius River near Wizard Falls, a rough and tumble stretch broken by moments of calm water:

“You don’t have spring creeks like this in too many places where the water just bubbles out of the ground at 50 degrees and here we are on a 90-degree day and we’re fishing in cold, clean water. It is such a special place.”

It is so special a place that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has operated the nearby Wizard Falls Hatchery since 1947.

Steve Hamburger, retired ODFW Hatchery Mgr, said the 45-degree water is the reason; it’s the perfect water for raising trout.

More than four million baby trout are raised at Wizard Falls Hatchery for release into scores of lakes and ponds across Oregon.

Visitors come from all over the state too and stroll the 35-acre hatchery grounds that are more akin to a park land than a fish hatchery.

Nearby campgrounds make the living easy too. There are ten U.S. Forest Service Campgrounds along the Metolius River that offer a place to stay and relax – like Allen Springs CG.

There are no hookups, phones or TV at these campgrounds, it’s self-contained camping without fancy conveniences, but Hamburger said that’s okay for the returning campers:

“They came here when they were kids and now they have kids so bringing their youngsters out and it carries on from generation to generation.

They really do enjoy that and the kids love it.”

Jeff Perin added, “It’s so beautiful here and we have so much great water – at any given time in central Oregon, there’s always some place to go.”

But in September of 2003, people wanted to go anywhere but here when two major forest fires merged into a catastrophic blaze called the B&B Complex Fires.

More than 2300 fire fighters battled the B&B for 34 days at a cost pegged at $38 million. The huge blaze burned more than 90,00 acres along the crest of the Cascades near Mt Jefferson.

Today, you can travel the backroads where pavement turns to gravel and explore the scorched landscape above the Metolius Arm of Lake Billy Chinook.

Here, the B&B burned everything down to bare soil, but it also revealed something unusual most folks had never seen: The Oregon Hoodoos.

On a day when the wind really kicked up, the Metolius River Ghost Rocks – or Balancing Rocks – actually own a history that goes way back to 1855 when a Pacific Railroad survey crew came through this country looking for a faster way from California to the Columbia River.

A US Army Lieutenant, one HL Abbot, coined the very first phrase describing the unique rock formations - he called them the “Oregon HooDoos.”

The nest of “hoodoos” – some thirty of them – have an intriguing geologic term called Hoodoo:  they are the hardened capstones of an ancient lava flow. As the softer material erodes beneath the basalt rock, the pillars that support the caps can grow up to 25 feet tall.

While some Hoodoos have tumbled down to ground –geologists say the Hoodoo formation process takes up to 20,000 years.

It’s a lonesome land where Oregon’s Hoodoos stand guard - but it is worth your time for a visit to see one of Oregon’s stranger scenic areas.

Directions: Drive to Madras, Oregon, then to Culver, 2 1/2 hours from Portland. Drive west through Cove Palisades State Park, as though bound for Perry South campground in the Deschutes National Forest.  Look for the Oregon HooDoos parking area and trailhead 12.2 miles west of the Deschutes River arm bridge (this is 0.3 mile beyond where the road switches from pavement to gravel.


If you would like to explore more of Oregon – consider a walk on the wild side with my new book: “Grant’s Getaways Guide to Wildlife Watching in Oregon.”

You will enjoy 48 uniquely Oregon adventures highlighting my fish and wildlife encounters. Scores of colorful photos by “Grant’s Getaways” photographer, Jeff Kastner, show off some of our finest moments in the field.

The stories offer detailed directions and promise to set you on your own path of discovery across Oregon. The new book is also available as e-book download so you can take my new book with you on the road.

Visit Travel Oregon for an extended version of this story and to see past versions of Grant's Getaways.

Grant's Getaways is produced in partnership with Travel Oregon, as well as:

Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife

Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept.

Oregon State Marine Board

You can learn more about many of Grant’s favorite Oregon adventures in his new book: "Grant's Getaways: 101 Oregon Adventures"






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