Fort Rock

I love road trips, particularly in Oregon

Road trips always have their own flavor. I love unexpected discoveries and having an open mind to welcome the new, the different, and the unplanned. This trip took me from Portland, to Sisters (biking up to McKenzie Pass), to Fort Rock, to Eugene, and back home. I learned about the oldest shoes ever found in the world, at Fort Rock. I also fell in love with the beauty of Eugene. I lived there for nearly two years in the mid-’90s and still thinks it’s a lovely place. Hope you all take a road trip soon, everyone. (Click on each photo to see a larger photo on a separate picture page.)

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Fort Rock State Natural Area, a sacred place

This is the first of a couple of posts I will do on Fort Rock State Natural Area (formerly park), in the high desert of south central Oregon. I wanted to show its features today from the perspective given by my GoPro, which has a unique and very wide angle perspective (and distortion).

These sandals were found a mile from Fort Rock State Natural Area and are approximately 10,000 years old (photo courtesy of the University of Oregon). These sandals were found in 1938 by archaeologist Luther Cressman.

These sandals were found a mile from Fort Rock State Natural Area and are approximately 10,000 years old (photo courtesy of the University of Oregon). These sandals were found in 1938 by archaeologist Luther Cressman.

Fort Rock is a gem. It stands prominently on the floor of what was once a lake bed. The formation is an extinct volcano that blew about 1.8 million years ago. Archaeological evidence dates Native American habitation here for at least 10,000 years. A research expedition in 1938 unearthed dozens of sage bark sandals under a layer of volcanic ash about a mile from here that are carbon dated as 10,000 years old. So clearly the continent’s first peoples have been coming here for many millenia.

I felt a touch of the divine and sacred here. How can one not. Its circular formation, its prominence on a desolate landscape, its energy when one stands on the rim of the crater–all create a feeling of otherworldliness. I saw deer and jackrabbits, so clearly food could be hunted here. It is well worth a visit. The area is about 70 miles southeast of upscale retirement city Bend, and there is no entrance fee. The state has also erected a recreated historic pioneer village near the entrance.

Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.