Located in the heart of River Canyon Country, Jefferson County offers locals and visitors a multitude of recreational opportunities. From camping, fishing and water skiing at Cove Palisades State Park to enjoying a family getaway at Kah-Nee-Ta Resort, you’ll find the perfect recreation location here.
Jefferson County is a popular outdoor recreation destination, featuring plenty of campsites and RV locations. Kah-Nee-Ta High Desert Resort offers world-class amenities including a hot springs swimming pool, golf, spa and more. The Cove Palisades State Park, surrounding Lake Billy Chinook, has several camping locations for both RVs and tents. Due to its popularity, the Cove is often booked ahead, so reservations are recommended during the peak season.
Other camping locations include Lake Simtustus, the KOA Campground near Haystack Reservoir, the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, Camp Sherman, Suttle Lake, sites along the Deschutes River, private campgrounds in Metolius and Crooked River Ranch and undeveloped campgrounds dispersed throughout the Crooked River National Grasslands.
Bicycling is gaining momentum in Jefferson County, especially with our recently Designated Bikeway. The Madras Mountain Views Scenic Bikeway provides spectacular mountain views as riders cycle through the rural communities of Metolius and Culver. The 30-mile loop offers terrain suitable for riders of all skill levels. The route is designed so that shorter loops are available for novice riders and riders who want to take children cycling.
The area features several other incredible rides that are accessible year-round.
Madras Mountain Scenic Bikeway Loop
Madras-Gateway Loop Extended Ride
Madras-Hay Creek Gravel Ride
Madras-Hay Creek Gravel Ride with Ashwood Extension
Madras-Tygh Valley Ride
Willow Creek Canyon Rail Bed Ride
Culver-Beetle Bailey Loop
Smith Rock-Lake Billy Chinook Loop
Maupin-Mack’s Canyon Ride
Camp Sherman-Black Butte Ranch Ride
Camp Sherman-Wizard Falls Loop
Camp Sherman Loop
Camp Sherman-Wizard Falls-Jack Creek Loop
Central Oregon is home to some of the state’s premiere golf courses.
Voted among the “Best Places to Play” by Golf Digest, Kah-Nee-Ta boasts a par 72 championship course that makes year round golf not only possible but pleasant.
The city-owned Desert Peaks in Madras is a well-groomed nine-hole course featuring spectacular mountain views. Madras also has the Willow Creek Driving Range.
In Crooked River Ranch, golfers can enjoy a par 71, challenging, 18-hole course with panoramic canyon views. This year-round course is one of the most beautiful in Central Oregon.
Jefferson County offers a wide variety of family-friendly activities for all ages.
The Madras Aquatic Center is a family and event oriented facility featuring a multi-purpose activity pool with a water slide. MAC also offers competitive swimming and has a diving pool and spa. Indulge in a relaxing soak or swim while enjoying a panoramic view of the Cascade Mountains.
Kah-Nee-Ta Resort Village attracts locals, as well as visitors from around the world to its natural hot spring-fed pools. Near the Village pool, visitors can enjoy a quick round of mini golf, volleyball and tennis. For the more adventurous, try a horseback ride through the canyon surrounding the resort or go kayaking. Family camping in the tepees is also fun.
The Jefferson County Fair Complex hosts a number of public and private events, including the Jefferson County Fair in late July.
Madras Bowl & Pizza provides a friendly environment for the entire family to enjoy bowling. Don’t forget to check out the arcade room.
From April through September, the Madras Speedway offers circle-track action each weekend. Nearby, racers enjoy a 1/8 mile NHRA dragstrip.
Explore some of the best rock-hunting areas in the country at Richardson’s Rock Ranch. Just 11 miles north of Madras, Richardson’s has an outstanding rock shop and plenty of digging opportunities in the Priday Thunderegg Beds.
Held at Sahalee Park throughout the summer months, visitors can check out local crafts, foods and other goods at the Madras Saturday Market. Food vendors and music are also part of the fun.
If a day out on the water sounds fun, Lake Billy Chinook Houseboats has what you need. From May through September, you can rent a luxury houseboat, patio boat or fishing boat to tour the lake.
The expanse of public land in Jefferson County provides nearly unlimited recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike.
Crooked River National Grasslands
Encompassing 155,000 acres, the Crooked River National Grasslands creates one of the largest tracts of preserved grasslands in the nation. Visitors enjoy hiking, camping, horseback riding and rock hounding. The area is loaded with trails and don’t forget binoculars for wildlife viewing. Contact the Grassland headquarters in Madras for information and maps:
Crooked River National Grasslands
813 S.W. Hwy 97
Madras, OR 97741
Deschutes & Ochoco National Forests and Crooked River National Grasslands
Metolius River Recreation Area
Near Camp Sherman, the Metolius River Recreation Area offers hiking, Nordic skiing, mountain biking and renowned fly fishing. Along the crest of the Cascades, the Pacific Crest Trail runs through Central Oregon on its course from Canada to Mexico.
Metolius River Recreation Area
Sisters Ranger District
Lake Billy Chinook
A popular summer destination, Lake Billy Chinook also offers year-round activities. The cooler temperatures of spring and fall provide the ideal hiking environment. When summer temperatures rise, water skiers, anglers, swimmers, kayakers and sightseers take to the lake.
Cove Palisades State Park
Other local excursions include the Alder Springs Trail into the Wychus Creek Canyon between Crooked River Ranch and Sisters, as well as the Rimrock Springs Wildlife Management Area and trails on Gray and Juniper Buttes.
Jefferson County is blessed with some of the best fishing sites in the West. The well-known fly fishing venues of the Deschutes, Crooked and Metolius Rivers draw anglers from near and far. Mountain creeks also provide a quiet, out of the way fishing experience. Lake Billy Chinook has Kokanee, large & smallmouth bass and a variety of trout, including the legendary bull trout. Anglers can fish while enjoying some of the best wildlife viewing in the state. Lake Simtustus, Haystack Reservoir and Suttle Lake also offer excellent fishing opportunities.
The most popular destination is Lake Billy Chinook. Nestled in the canyons carved by the Deschutes, Crooked and Metolius Rivers, the waterway is a favorite of anglers, boaters, water skiers, wake boarders, hikers and campers. Houseboat rentals are also available on the lake.
Formed by Pelton Dam, Lake Simtustus offers fishing, boating and water skiing on the 630 acre reservoir. Haystack Reservoir is popular with local residents for fishing, swimming, boating and picnicking. The magnificent view of Mt. Jefferson is well worth the visit. Speed boat races are also held each year. Suttle Lake, just east of the Santiam Summit, provides the ideal mountain retreat from the summer heat.
The Museum at Warm Springs
The award-winning Museum at Warm Springs is a celebration of the three Confederated Tribes – the Warm Springs, Wasco and Paiutes. Featuring one of the most extensive collections of Native American artifacts, the museum allows visitors to experience the Tribes’ culture through song, dance, language and crafts.
Murals, photographs, multi-media exhibits and demonstrations by Tribal members all help to document the rich history of the Tribal community. The museum also has nearby trails, a picnic area and outdoor amphitheater. Hours are 9am to 5pm, 7 days a week. The museum is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day.
Erickson Aircraft Collection
The Erickson Aircraft Collection features the vintage aircraft collection started by Jack Erickson in 1983. The museum houses more than 20 rare aircraft, including the P-38 Lightning, P-51 Mustang, Ki43 Hayabusa and Madras Maiden B-17 Bomber. Hours are Thursday-Monday, 9am to 5pm. The museum is closed Thanksgiving and Christmas. The museum is located near the Madras Airport, which served as a training base for B-17 pilots during World War II. Each August, the airport hosts the Airshow of the Cascades, the perfect complement to the museum.
Jefferson County Museum
Pioneer artifacts depict the history of ranching, transportation, and dry-land farming in Jefferson County over the past 100 years. The Jefferson County Historical Museum is currently closed, as it awaits moving to its new location in Madras.
Art Adventure Gallery
The beauty of Central Oregon’s high desert is the ideal inspiration for great artwork. The Art Adventure Gallery in Madras was created to capture the breadth and character of these works and bring them to residents and visitors alike. The gallery is a cooperative effort of local artists and the Madras Community. Volunteers staff and manage the gallery. Art Adventure Gallery features distinctive gift and decorating ideas. Whether you are looking for a unique gift or a remembrance of a trip to the area, you will find great ideas for every occasion and budget.
Studio on 5th
The home of the High Desert Carvers, Studio on 5th offers one of a kind, handcrafted art carvings and photography. Custom artwork can also be ordered.