Stock landscape and outdoor adventure photos from Oregon, Washington, and the Pacific Northwest

Late Pictures of Fall Color in Central Oregon

As is usually the case I made a long list of fall color images that I wanted to capture this year and time flew, weather was uncooperative and I missed many of my dream shots but did get some Oregon fall color photos worthy of sharing.  The following group photos have little to with one another aside from the fact that they are all from Central Oregon’s High Desert vicinity.  In general, I didn’t find this fall color season to be remarkable.  The early snows dampened expectations but some late color did burst out, especially in the riparian areas of lower elevation.  The first group of photos is from a location where I’ve never gotten any worthy images and frankly This fall offered the best color I’ve ever seen along the Crooked River.  These images are from the Peter Skene Ogden State Scenic Viewpoint, which is located where Highway 97 crosses the Crooked River North of Terrebonne, Oregon.

Fall color in the riparian area along Central Oregon's Crooked River.

Fall color in the riparian area along Central Oregon's Crooked River.

According to my keen recollection of American History(and the big sign in the parking lot) Peter Skene Ogden was working for the Hudson’s Bay  Company in 1825  when  he led the first recorded journey into the Crooked River Basin not far from the current Crooked River Bridge.  I presume that is why this viewpoint is  named after Ogden rather than something catchy like “Pacific crest Stock Scenic Viewpoint”!  The yellow fall colors were more vibrant than I’ve ever seen in this location and the reds weren’t bad either!  The rock pattern also helps with this otherwise simple image.  Facing in the opposite direction and downstream, the Crooked River Canyon  carves a deep serpentine path through 300 foot tall basalt cliffs.  Some great clouds, the distant Black Butte, and the previously mentoned fall color make this a worthy photograph.

The Crooked River carves its way through basalt cliffs with a distant Black Butte in this photo

The Crooked River carves its way through basalt cliffs with a distant Black Butte in this photo

Looking back upstream from the same Crooked River Bridge which is closed to cars but open to people( this made me nervous at first!) One sees the obvious yet attractive Rex T. Barber Memorial Bridge.  Rex was something of a Hero during world War II.  He was born in nearby Culver, Oregon and was drafted into World War II.  Rex T. Barber was an ace fighter pilot who is widely credited with shooting down and killing Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto who was the planner of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor thereby initiating WWII.  In other words, Rex really was a hero.  Rex served in the military for 20 years and after a very successful stint flying P-38 lightnings, he was eventually shot down over China.  He survived the crash and five weeks later he was escorted back to allied forces by Chinese civilians.  Rex returned to Central Oregon after the war where he was an insurance agent, judge, mayor of Culver and a huge civic booster.  I don’t usually get moved by these Memorial plaque tales by this one really was somewhat touching to me.  I also am hesistant to include man made objects in my landscape photographs, but for Rex T. Barber I’ll make an exception.  Below is the handsome Rex T. Barber Memorial Bridge high above the Crooked River canyon and it’s luminous fall color.

Picture of the Rex T. Barber Veteran's Memorial Bridge high above the Crooked River Canyon, in Central Oregon

Picture of the Rex T. Barber Veteran's Memorial Bridge high above the Crooked River Canyon, in Central Oregon

Another High desert Photography favorite , Smith Rock State Park also had some great fall color this year.  Below is an attractive sunrise casting a delicate pink glow on one of the main rock formations at Smith Rock.  It may not be as stunning as Troy’s sunset image from this same location found in this blog entry  Smith Rock Photos but the delicate predawn light works well with the fall color in the riparian areas at the base of Smith Rock’s massive rock formations.

Picture of early morning light at Central Oregon's Smith Rock State Park

Picture of early morning light at Central Oregon's Smith Rock State Park

Slightly to the North of this scene lies the famed Morning Glory wall and “the Dihedrals”,  favorites of rock climbers around the world.  I’ve been to the morning glory wall area many times but I’ve struggled with lighting there.  The following image of the Morning Glory Wall and the dihedrals with fall color and cumulous clouds makes for a good stock photo.

Photo/Picture of Morning glory wall and the dihedrals at Smith Rock State Park

Photo/Picture of Morning glory wall and the dihedrals at Smith Rock State Park

On the same pleasantly cloudy day I shifted over a touch and took an obligatory photograph from the main viewpoint at Smith Rock State Park.  Normally I avoid this spot as it is a bit cliched but I couldn’t resist because of the great clouds that were floating above the scene.

Picture/Photo from the main viewpoint at Smith Rock State Park

Picture/Photo from the main viewpoint at Smith Rock State Park

Finally We’ll leave Smith Rock behind after one more image.  This rock formation is referred to as “the Monument”  Stunningly vertical, is calls to some like no other rock formation in Central Oregon.  I merely think of it as the scene that launched a thousand psychiatric evaluations for my Pacific Crest partner, Troy.  To learn more about Troy’s struggles, visit this previous blog entry.  Smith Rock Photo phychosis.  It’s a good shot but mostly I included this image in this particular blog entry in an effort to torture Troy.  He’ll be back at the monument later today nervously composing scenes and incoherently mumbling to himself like Milton in the classic movie, “Office Space”.

Troy's Folly, sunrise light on the  monument at Smith Rock State Park

Troy's Folly, sunrise light on the monument at Smith Rock State Park

I’ve included this next and final photo of aspen trees with some great color not so much because I love the image but because I felt obligated to mention it.  I’ve been there so many times that it feels like a distant cousin who I feel obligated to invite to Thanksgiving dinner because they live two blocks away.  Anyway, here are my distant cousin aspen trees!

Central Oregon aspen trees in full fall color

Central Oregon aspen trees in full fall color

If any of our blog readers have fall color suggestions for next year please let us know.  For some of our other fall color images, please visit our main Pacific Crest website by following the following link Pacific Crest Images .   Thanks for visiting our photo blog!

All the Best,

Mike Putnam

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  1. Clayton

    Amazing photograph! Wonderful colors and atmosphere… I wish I was there on that afternoon!

    Mar 09, 2010 @ 8:52 am


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