We took a stroll out to the Lower Gorge with John Rich, a long-time climbing aficionado of the Gorge Area, aka “Mayor of the Gorge.” We wanted to get his take on the proposed Oregon State Parks & Rec (OPRD) acquisition of 38 undeveloped acres to expand Smith Rock State Park there on both sides of the Crooked River.
Just after we joined the Bald Eaglets on Sunday for Happy Hour and watched them waiting on Mom and Dad for food, we saw them trying out their wings to join in the catch. Jeff Seaman of Bend followed up with subsequent daily visits and captured the moment for at least one of the pair.
The combination of big and steady rain dumps followed by days of sunshine and fluctuating temperatures, in other words, Spring in the High Desert, has brought flowers to Smith Rock that have turned a few heads due to their rare appearance. Bitterroot is one of them. And there are others we have been scouring to identify that we couldn’t find in local flower books and the Audobon Society Field Guide.
Park Manager Scott Brown is moving south—to La Pine State Park, that is. After 9 years at Smith Rock, Brown has seen an exponential rise in visitation, doubling since he’s been here to close to 900,000 people per year. He’s been at the confluence of competing groups of park users along with area residents as they hammer out a new Master Plan to address that growth since the last plan from 20 years ago. But that’s not why he’s chosen to leave.
Free parking and camping? You heard that right, along with fresh fruits, cookies and lemonade at the Welcome Center between 9:00 AM and 1:00 PM on June 1 while supplies last.