Excursion to the Central Oregon Cascade Mountains
Travel to Central Oregon through the Cascade Mountains, following the Santiam River to Detroit Reservoir, over the summit of Santiam Pass, and on to Camp Sherman.
Best Time for Traveling
This trip to Central Oregon is best taken in mid-September to October, depending on the weather. The autumn foliage will be best visible by this time. By this time of year, it is warm, dry, not too hot, and not as busy as during the summer months. To check Oregon road conditions, refer to the Oregon Department of Transportations ODOT road cam network. A warning to those accustomed to city life: beware there is usually no cell phone service, lots of dust and you may have to use an outhouse to relieve yourself.
Begin Your Journey
Start in the early morning, from Oregon’s capital city, Salem on a 100-mile trip through one of the most scenic regions of the country. Take Highway 22 east from Salem, beginning the trek up the foothills of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains. Pass through small commuter towns and sawmill communities. Several miles passed Detroit Reservoir, stop at the Marion Forks Restaurant, a cozy place overlooking the Marion Creek, for breakfast. Marvel at the hunting trophies of deer, elk, antelope and pheasants hanging on the restaurant’s walls, or study the Western paintings by Ray Eyerly. By this elevation, some fall foliage may be starting to show itself. Watch for red viney maples, and other yellow and orange autumn colors around every curve. The color creates a big contrast with the evergreens of the fir and pine trees. Get your camera ready.
Now begin your climb up the Santiam Pass, home to many sites of winter recreation including Hoodoo Mountain Resort. Camp Sherman resides just up the pass, 10 miles west of Sisters. Camp Sherman, population 250, a town of resorts, lodges, and the Metolius River, is a treasure to fly fishers, bicyclists, hunters, photographers, writers, and travelers. The river meanders through town, passing right next to the Camp Sherman Store. The store is filled with food, drinks, souvenirs, books, a fly shop, and more. Buy a snack and head to one of the benches under a giant Ponderosa pine, located on the banks of the swift Metolius River.
Take Road 14 passed Camp Sherman to the Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery. Although it might not seem to be the most desirable attraction, the hatchery is an amazing site. Situated on 35 acres along the Metolius River, its number of fish is almost innumerable, producing several million each year. There is no charge and it is open year-round. There are huge Kokanee, Trout (Brown, Rainbow and Brook), Salmon, Mountain Whitefish, and Dolly Varden.
Metolius Recreation Area
Explore the area surrounding Camp Sherman, along the Metolius River as it flows from Black Butte to Lake Billy Chinook. View the tamarack trees, bursting with a bright yellow-green color. Its foliage is set on fire with autumn intensity, contrasting to the surrounding pine trees. It’s a real treat to catch tamarack in its full autumn color. Other close areas include Jack Creek, Head of the Metolius, Suttle Lake, Lost Lake, Black Butte, and the cities of Sisters, Bend, and Redmond.
For those who enjoy the outdoors or have more than a day to explore, there are plenty of campgrounds and hiking trails throughout the Metolius Recreation Area. Enjoy fly fishing, camping, picnicking, backpacking, hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, boating, shopping, and sightseeing. Exploring Central Oregon, the forests and high desert can be exciting, seeing all of the amazingly beautiful sites.