This was a beautiful, 4 hour drive through northeast Oregon along I-84 where it runs next to the Columbia River, and where Mt. Hood appears in the west, floating above the horizon and looking as iconic as Mt. Fuji. Then we peeled away and headed south along US 97 into central Oregon through Madras, where there is a turnoff leading to Cove Palisades State Park. The sign at this point indicates that it is 9 miles away, but I was looking at Apple maps on my iPad and it showed that we were headed in the wrong direction so we turned around and drove for about half an hour on winding back country roads with spectacular views of the snow-covered Cascades in the distance, finally winding up at a dead end on a gravel road with a chain link fence at the entrance to the Pelton Round Butte Hydroelectric Project. At this point, I called the state park and asked how to get there from here. They said we had gone too far north and should retrace our steps, go south the town of Culver, and follow the signs to the park, which we did, with a minimum of dashboard pounding.
We are in the Deschutes campground, five miles from the park entrance. To get there you drive down long steep grade, around several hairpin turns and over a narrow suspension bridge into a canyon with steep rock walls looming over a man made lake, Lake Billy Chinook. This is one of those hidden gems, although not very well hidden judging from the number of people camping here with their monster RVs, watercraft and numerous other big toys, children and dogs. Quite a festive scene! The campsites are very nice, with full hookups.
We took a short hike to a petroglyph on a rock that was relocated here about a mile from its original location because it would have been submerged when the hydro project created the lake.
We are only here for one night, but checkout time is 1pm so we may take another, more challenging hike tomorrow morning, the Tam-a-Lau trail.