Explore Central Oregon from the luxurious Brasada Ranch
By Marguerite Cleveland
Central Oregon is one of the top destinations in the United States for outdoor adventures. In early fall, you can still enjoy water activities, hiking, golf and cycling as the weather begins to cool down a bit. There is plenty to do exploring the cities in the area. Bend is larger with plenty of restaurants, craft breweries and lots of tax-free shopping. The charming small towns of Redmond, Sisters, La Pine, Prineville, Madras and Warm Springs have a historic vibe with local shopping and restaurants. Whether you want to be super active or chill on the back porch of your cabin, there is something for everyone in Central Oregon.
Where to Stay
The luxurious Brasada Ranch is a destination resort situated on 1,800 acres of high desert on the scenic Powell Buttes in Central Oregon. This stunning location has panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and high desert. Its location, about 20 minutes from Bend, makes it a perfect base to explore the area. Much of the property is left in a natural state, and its isolated location adds to the sense of peace and quiet. Accommodations vary from the adult-only Ranch House suites to the rustic luxury of the one- to four-bedroom Sage Canyon Cabins. They are fully equipped with everything you need for your stay.
On the resort you will find a world-class golf course and a state-of-the-art fitness facility. They even have Peloton bikes. The ponds below the Trestle Bridge are stocked with fish, and spin rods are available for rent. The heated pools and spas are just stunning, with the Cascade Pool designated for adults only. Children will love the waterslide. Plan to take a hike on the resort to Spirit Rock to watch the sunset. It has stunning 360-degree views of the resort and the surrounding area. On site is a Brasada Adventures Concierge, which can help you plan activities both on and off the resort.
Insider Tip: Book a cabin with an outdoor hot tub. The lighting at the resort is designed to not interfere with the dark skies. The cabins are laid out in a way that feels very private. During my stay we used the hot tub every night and enjoyed stargazing in the pitch, dark night skies. Truly an amazing experience.
Where to Eat
With a fully equipped kitchen, you will want to cook a meal or two at your cabin. The resort offers their famous Ranch Platters, which you can order by 11am for the next day. There are a variety of entrée options, and it includes all the ingredients and detailed instructions to prepare the meals. It comes with three sides, and you can even order wine to pair with your meal. The resort has two restaurants, as well as dining events, so make sure to check the website for some culinary opportunities.
If you are going to go out to dine, you need to head to Bend. There are a crazy number of award-winning chefs, and the dining scene is a foodie’s Mecca. According to “The Huffington Post,” Bend was named one of the top cities with the most eateries per capita. The choices can be overwhelming. You can go trendy, but the Pine Tavern, a local favorite, has been around since 1936. This darling restaurant actually has two Ponderosa pine trees growing in the dining room. Dine indoors or, if the weather is nice, outdoors overlooking Mirror Pond. The menu is simple and hearty. If you’re lucky, there will be prime rib available as a special.
What to Do
Before venturing off the ranch, take advantage of all the activities. A great fall activity is horseback riding. Brasada Trails offers trail rides on Mustangs, Draft-Cross and Western Pleasure horses. There are more than 900 acres of high desert to explore on horseback. An experienced guide will pair you up with a horse based on your ability. In addition to the trail rides, there are other experiences available throughout the year.
Insider Tip: Carrots are available at the General Store to grab to feed the horses.
Smith Rock State Park is the crown jewel of Central Oregon and, if you do nothing else, is one activity not to miss. It rivals the Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Parks for stunning scenery. Plan to get here much earlier than you think you need to because it is extremely popular. The park is open dawn to dusk for day use. Bring plenty of water and plan to do some hiking. Trails range from easy strolls along the rim overlooking Smith Rock to epic elevation climbs for magnificent views. Be aware that, although there is an easy trail down in the canyon, you will have a steep climb back up at the end, so plan for it. In addition to the great hiking, the area is popular for rock climbing. It is so amazing seeing all the people scrambling up the sides of Smith Rock.
The High Desert Museum is such an eclectic destination. You will find not only art and history but also wildlife. The museum architecture blends well with the natural setting, and there are indoor galleries as well as outdoor spaces to explore on the 135-acre campus. There are such a variety of exhibits. Indoors you can learn about the history of the Plateau Indian Nations as well as early settlers. Animal exhibits include the Desertarium and the resident porcupines. Once you head outside, the trail will take you to a range of exhibits to include the Miller Family Ranch, which often has living history presentations. The Sawmill is fascinating as well as the exhibit on the effects of wildfires on the forest. The otters frolicking in their enclosure are always a hit.
Insider Tip: Silver Sage Trading is the museum’s gift shop and has such a great variety; a perfect place to purchase souvenirs from your trip, and it helps support the High Desert Museum.
There are so many cute small towns just a short drive from the Brasada Ranch. A must see is Sisters, a Western-themed town that is filled with culture. There are more than 14 art galleries nestled among the Western-themed buildings in the Hood Avenue Art District. There is a good local music scene with the Sisters Folk Festival in early October. Shop the galleries and boutiques, and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.
Central Oregon is known for its outdoor recreation, but there is so much more. It is the perfect destination for a fall getaway. There is something about visiting a destination resort that is so relaxing and helps you to slow down a bit.
Insider Tip: If you don’t feel like driving, you can catch an Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle or Spokane to the Redmond Municipal Airport – Roberts Field.
Information - VisitCentralOregon.com
Where to Stay
The Brasada Ranch - Brasada.com
Where to Eat
Visit Bend - VisitBend.com/food-drink/restaurants
The Pine Tavern - PineTavern.com
What to Do
Smith Rock State Park - SmithRock.com
High Desert Museum - HighDesertMuseum.org