THE OREGON OUTBACK SCENIC HIGHWAY
Refer to National Geographic’s Guide to Scenic Highways & Byways. Page 436
Most of us think of Oregon as a land of trees and water, and much of it is. But take a drive a short distance out of La Pine, Oregon, on Oregon Hwy. 31, and you are transported to a different landscape. This road takes you to a tough land, a land of volcanic rock and high desert.
HOLE IN THE GROUND
We turned off the main highway onto a pitted, 4 wheel drive road to Hole in Ground, which is a large crater in the landscape. Bruce mentioned that he was surprised that it hasn’t become a lake. Its called a maar, which is a volcanic explosion crater. It actually was once part of a long ago volcanic lake which covered the entire Ft. Rock Basin.
We traveled as far as Fort Rock, a strange formation of rock that does resemble an old fort. Its geological term is a tuff ring.
THE SUMMER LAKE WILDLIFE AREA
We intended to return another day and travel farther down this highway to The Summer Lake Wildlife area, which is a huge sanctuary for migrant birds, including swans. We didn’t get back, but maybe on another trip.
FORT ROCK HOMESTEAD VILLAGE
The homesteaders must have been a hardy lot. You have to wonder why they chose this barren land. Very few people live there now. It must have been almost impossible to feed a family in this lonely place. In the small village of Ft. Rock there’s a Homestead Village and Museum which wasn’t open when we visited. We took pictures of the village, which gives a glimpse into the lives of the homesteaders. Hard working souls, its understandable that the people of Oregon want to remember and honor the memory of their lives.
The Oregon Outback is a great place to take the jeep. Lots of dirt roads, some graded, some not.