The Crooked River snakes it's way through Oregon's rugged outback.
With the snowcapped peaks of the Cascade Range towering to the west, the rushing Deschutes River just four miles away, and the dramatic, multicolored pinnacles of Smith Rock State Park luring rock climbers from all over the country, the city of Redmond, Ore., has a lot going for it. People just haven't noticed.
Well, tourists haven't. Many are still too busy speeding straight through it en route to the bustling ski town of Bend, 14 miles away.
It's their loss. A 2½-hour drive from Portland by way of Mount Hood, Redmond is smack in the middle of just about everything there is to do in central Oregon—from world-class fly-fishing and hiking in Deschutes National Forest to spring skiing on Mount Bachelor. There's even plenty of golfing—within Redmond proper, there are five public courses, including championship ones at Eagle Crest Resort and Crooked River Ranch, which locals tout as the best value. (If you're really keen on golf, less than an hour's drive will take you to about 25 more, as well as to the renowned Sunriver Resort.)
Frank and Josephine Redmond pitched the first homestead tent here in the early 1900s, spurred by the promise of canal irrigation and a railroad running through the center of town. Though Redmond was primarily an agricultural community when it was first incorporated in 1910, the town eventually turned to lumber for its bread and butter. By 1920, Redmond was dubbed "the hub" of central Oregon.
Unlike many towns that emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Redmond doesn't rely on a quaint historic district to attract visitors. In fact, its center is lined with antique stores and small Mexican eateries, all of which appear more functional than charming. Redmond, instead, has allowed its surrounding natural beauty to entice passersby.
Because the Cascades hold back much of the wet weather that travels east from the coast, Redmond boasts a temperate climate on a par with the nearby towns of Bend and Sisters. It gets little rain and lots of sun—300 days of it a year.
Of course, not everything in Redmond revolves around the great outdoors. Petersen Rock Gardens & Museum is a bizarre patch of land where peacocks roam among an eclectic collection of castles and other structures built from local stones—agate, jasper, obsidian—and petrified wood. Don't miss the stunted Statue of Liberty.
Aboard the Crooked River Dinner Train, you can enjoy entertainment and a three-hour, four-course meal that features prime rib or vegetarian lasagna. Eat while you try to solve a classic Western murder mystery or keep an eye out for bandits on horseback. The train makes a 38-mile round-trip through the craggy rimrock of the Crooked River Valley.
And then there's the 7,000-seat Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center. Every July, tens of thousands of folks come from all over the state for the fair's five-day extravaganza of Ferris wheels and farm animals. The rest of the year, the center hosts rodeos, monster truck shows, and performers such as Bonnie Raitt and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Two upscale restaurants—the Mustard Seed Cafe and Puleo's—recently reopened, adding a bit of culinary diversity and hinting that Redmond may be heading in the direction of Bend.
But for now, the endless opportunities for outdoor fun continue to make Redmond appealing to those who appreciate a quiet place where the trout are biting, the greens fees are reasonable, and the fluffy white stuff is only a quick drive away.
There are more than 1,400 rock-climbing routes in Smith Rock State Park, including such enticing options as Taste the Pain, Exile on Main Street, and Tammy Bakker's Face.
HO HO HO!
Operation Santa Claus, the largest commercial reindeer ranch in the United States, is located just outside of Redmond. Founded in the mid-1950s, the ranch is now home to more than 70 reindeer. 4355 W. Hwy. 126, 548-8910.
Photography by Kirkendall/Spring
This article was first published in March 2004. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.
Area code is 541. Pick up AAA's Oregon & Washington map and TourBook. Contact the Redmond Chamber of Commerce at 923-5191 or visit www.redmondchamber.org.
Crooked River Dinner Train Enjoy a hearty four-course dinner along with a murder mystery or a Jesse James train robbery. 548-8630, crookedriverdinnertrain.com.
High Desert Museum Renowned museum focused on regional history and wildlife. 59800 S. Hwy. 97, Bend, 382-4754, www.highdesertmuseum.org.
Petersen Rock Gardens & Museum A collection of stone castles and other funky structures. 7930 SW 77th St., 382-5574.
Central Oregon Outdoors Friendly, knowledgeable fly-fishing guides. 504-0372, www.central-oregon.net/oregon-outdoor-recreation.php.
Deschutes National Forest Maps for hiking and camping are available from the forest service office. 1645 Hwy. 20, Bend, 383-5300, www.fs.fed.us/r6/centraloregon.
Smith Rock State Park 9241 NE Crooked River Dr., 548-7501, www.oregonstateparks.org.
Sun Country Tours Rafting trips on the Deschutes and other nearby rivers. 382-6277, (800) 770-2161, www.suncountrytours.com.
The Sky's the Limit
Redmond Air Center Tour the home base of a unit of smoke jumpers, skydiving firefighters who combat forest fires. Reservations recommended. 1740 SE Ochoco Way, 504-7200, www.fs.fed.us/r6/centraloregon/fires/rac/.
Kayo's Roadhouse Burgers and Steaks Kids eat free on Sunday nights. 250 NW Sixth St., 548-5675.
Mi Pueblito Traditional Mexican fare. Lunch specials. 404 SW Sixth St., 923-5173.
Puleo's Portobello mushroom ravioli and New Zealand rack of lamb. 546 NW Seventh St., 504-1601.
Grab a Cold One
Seventh Street Brew House Pair a pint of Rooster Tail Ale or Monkey Face Porter with a hefty burger or a German sausage and sauerkraut. 855 SW Seventh St., 923-1795.
At the Mustard Seed Cafe chef Michael Perkins serves up delectable breakfast, lunch, and dinner specialties-from fancy three-egg omelets with homemade harvest bread to citrus-soy salmon with wild rice pilaf. 614 NW Cedar Ave., 923-2599.
Deschutes River Lodge $100-$139. 5087 NW Woody Ct., 923-4701, www.deschutesriverlodge.com.
Eagle Crest Resort $69-$319. 1522 Cline Falls Hwy., 923-2453, (800) 682-4786, www.eagle-crest.com.
Historic New Redmond Hotel $49-$89. 521 SW Sixth St., 923-7378.