Beautiful sites and fun activities will thrill motorhomers who attend FMCA’s 90th Family Reunion & Motorhome Showcase August 13-16.
By Peggy Jordan, Associate Editor
Warm, sunny days and cool, clear nights make summer in the high desert of Central Oregon popular among those who like to play in the outdoors. Quite often this climate creates a beautiful “High Desert Sunrise,” and that is the theme for Family Motor Coach Association’s 90th Family Reunion & Motorhome Showcase August 13 through 16, 2014.
The event will take place in Redmond, a small town of 26,000 that boasts plenty of opportunities for golf, bicycling, fishing, rock climbing, and, of course, just taking in nature’s beauty. The scenery at this elevation — approximately 3,000 feet above sea level — includes dramatic mountains, frothy waterfalls, and energetic rivers.
The fine summer weather accommodates the activities typically associated with an FMCA gathering. FMCA members first held a Family Reunion at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center in August 2001. Since then, members have gathered there in 2004, 2007, and 2010. This August marks the fifth time FMCA has come to play in Oregon’s high desert.
The Deschutes (pronounced “duh-SHOOTS”) fairgrounds is a fabulously accommodating place, with outdoor arenas, a huge indoor conference center, and other multipurpose indoor areas. Plenty of parking (100 acres) means that you can spend time next to friends, and the beautifully manicured Center Court at the fairgrounds offers a great spot to rendezvous with pals. Just say, “Meet me at the windmill.”
Either before or after you’ve settled into your site for all the entertainment, seminars, socializing, and shopping, you’ll certainly want to explore this area. Because just like the mountains around it, Central Oregon stacks up plenty of things to do.
Redmond is dotted with horse farms and ranches on its outskirts, and on in-town streets you often see pickup trucks. It also boasts a municipal airport: Roberts Field. In 1943 Redmond was a B-17 and P-38 training base, and commercial air service was started there in 1946, after the war. Also at the airport is the National Forest Service’s Redmond Air Center, where crews of trained smokejumpers stand ready to fight forest fires at a moment’s notice.
Popular local eateries include Mi Cielo Mexican Restaurant; Diego’s Spirited Kitchen (American and Mexican); One Street Down Café (American breakfast and lunch); Jersey Boys Pizzeria; and many more.
Shopping is available at the Redmond Walmart, at major grocery stores and pharmacy chain stores, and more. If you’re an antiques hunter, try Sixth Street and Evergreen Avenue, where you’ll find the Redmond Antique Mall and the Beyond the Ranch antiques, among others. And remember, there is no sales tax in Oregon.
Your canine companion will want to know that Redmond now offers an off-leash dog park. This 3-acre park is located at Southwest Black Butte Boulevard and 15th Street.
And auto aficionados will want to know about the 21st annual Drifters Harvest Run “Cruz-In,” which will take place in downtown Redmond August 15 and 16, the Friday and Saturday of the FMCA Family Reunion. The official classic “Car Show and Shine” will occur Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. Admission is free.
As for golf, all of Central Oregon is a mecca. Redmond is home to the Missing Link Family Golf Center, which caters to everyone’s skill level. It also boasts Eagle Crest, The Greens at Redmond, and Juniper golf courses. Neighboring towns such as Bend, Sisters, Prineville, La Pine, Sunriver, and others have golf courses, too.
You can test your luck at Indian Head Casino, now located 55 miles north of Redmond along U.S. 26. The casino formerly was at Kah-Nee-Ta Resort, which, by the way, still has a renowned RV campground, museum, restaurants, golf course, pools, spa, and more.
Craft beer and local wine are immensely popular now, and you’ll find several local wineries and breweries throughout Central Oregon. Check with the tourism bureaus listed in this article for details about tastings and tours.
You won’t have to go far to explore a cave if you attend the Family Reunion in Redmond. Right near the fairgrounds on Airport Road is Redmond Caves Recreation Area. Five caverns are open there, several with silly names: Cave Next Door, Insignificant Redmond Cave, and No-Account Redmond Cave. Seriously, the geography here is fascinating, as all of these caves once were a single lava tube. In fact, Deschutes County has the most caves of any county in Oregon, thanks to its volcanic history.
Speaking of rocks, on the south side of Redmond is Petersen Rock Garden, named after its creator, Rasmus Petersen, a Danish immigrant. Petersen constructed miniature castles, a replica of the Statue of Liberty, plus bridges, towers, and more using materials found in this area. Among them were petrified wood, thunder eggs, agate, jasper, lava, and obsidian. It’s a whimsical way to appreciate local geology. Petersen Rock Garden and Museum is open daily in summer. A small admission fee is charged, and a rock shop is located on the premises.
And now a look at other must-see stops while you’re in Redmond, organized by which direction you must travel from Redmond to reach them.
Peter Skene Ogden State Scenic Viewpoint, 9 miles north of Redmond along U.S. 97, was named for the man who led the first European expedition through this area, in 1825. Room is available (although limited) for parking larger vehicles here, and the park also includes rest rooms and picnic tables. The view itself lets you see down into the deep Crooked River Valley, as well as several bridges over it.
Smith Rock State Park, located in Terrebone, also is a few miles north of Redmond. The Crooked River Valley provides the depth, while Smith Rock provides the height, offering gorgeous views to all. This is one of the “Seven Wonders of Oregon,” according to the state travel bureau. Hikers can choose to take all or part of a trail to the top of Smith Rock, and those with mountain bikes will appreciate the park as well. Technical rock climbers are in their element, as the place offers 1,800 vertical routes. A $5 day use fee is charged. Do not miss the beauty!
The town of Bend, originally called Farewell Bend, is Redmond’s closest neighbor. It is a very different city in itself. Its elevation is 500 feet higher, making it less of a desert spot, with more mountain greenery. The Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway starts in Bend; take State Route 372 west toward Mount Bachelor. Bend also is home to the wonderful Deschutes Historical Museum, a must-see for appreciators of area history. It is located in historic Reid School.
Downtown Bend features great restaurants and breweries. Plus, look for the Goody’s candy shop and take the free chocolate factory tour.
Five miles south of Bend is the High Desert Museum, renowned for its displays about area history and natural history, plus for being a nature conservancy. In those immortal words, it has “something for everybody.” If you like history, you will want to focus on the original stagecoaches, antique trucks, living history ranch, and Indian lore. If you’re a nature lover, the birds of prey encounter may be your favorite; or, perhaps the forest and wildlife observation areas will stir the imagination.
Just a bit farther south of the High Desert Museum is Newberry National Volcanic Monument. It is a weird landscape with dark rocks and dramatic views. Many of the mountains in this area are still-active volcanoes (including this one). Newberry Volcano’s most recent eruption took place a mere 1,400 years ago.
Prineville is fun to visit for two reasons. First is Ochoco Viewpoint (on U.S. 126), an impressive scenic overlook that commands a sweeping view of the city, including the prominent Crook County Courthouse, built in 1909, and the hills, ridges, and buttes beyond. The next is the Bowman Memorial Museum, located on Main Street in a former Prineville bank, built in 1910. The inside vault and teller cages are all still there. And museum artifacts define early Prineville, including life-size representations of an Old West street.
… And West
The shopper in you will want to be sure to head west to Sisters. It’s an easy drive from Redmond via U.S 126. This Western-style town is full of fun stores with gifts, jewelry, art, pottery, gems, clothing, and specialties. At one shop you can find items made from alpaca wool.
Camp Sherman is a few miles northwest of Sisters. This beautiful mountain resort community is part of a designated conservation area. The area’s beauty and natural resources are the big draw: the spring-fed Metolius River prominently glides through town. Several original buildings still stand, including some cabins, a schoolhouse, and a tiny railroad chapel. The Camp Sherman Store and Fly Shop, built in 1918, is adjacent to the post office.
All in all, the “High Desert Sunrise” Family Reunion in Redmond, Oregon, this August 13-16 is sure to be worth the drive, no matter where you come from, and worth every bit of time you can take to explore this beautiful part of America.
Redmond Chamber of Commerce & CVB
446 S.W. Seventh St.
Redmond, OR 97756
Central Oregon Visitors Association
705 S.W. Bonnett Way #1000
Bend, OR 97702
Oregon Tourism Commission
250 Church St. S.E. #100
Salem, OR 97301
(800) 547-7842 (to order travel guide)
(503) 378-8850 (if calling from outside U.S.)
Following is a listing of many of the campgrounds in the area. For more ideas, check your campground directory or visit the RV Marketplace, online at FMCA.com and published in the January and June issues of FMC. Listings for more state park campgrounds in the area can be found at www.oregonstateparks.org.
Bend/Sisters Garden RV Resort
67667 Highway 20
Bend, OR 97701-9121
Central Oregon KOA
2435 S.W. Jericho Lane
Culver, OR 97734
Crooked River Ranch RV Park
5195 S.W. Clubhouse Road
Crooked River Ranch, OR 97760
Crown Villa RV Resort, C2573 (FMCA commercial member)
60801 Brosterhous Road
Bend, OR 97702
River Rim RV Park
14285 S.W. Business Circle Road
Crooked River Ranch, OR 97760
Sun Rocks RV Resort, C7000 (FMCA Commercial Member)
14900 S.E. Juniper Canyon Road
Prineville, OR 97754
Scandia RV Park
61415 S. U.S. 97, #59
Bend, OR 97702
Redmond is …
16 miles north of Bend
20 miles west of Prineville
21 miles east of Sisters
29 miles south of Madras
35 miles north of Sunriver