The High Desert Museum

high desertWhat do you get when you combine a natural history museum with a small zoo? The High Desert Museum, located on Highway 97 just south of Bend, Oregon. Entertaining, engaging, and educational, this museum is not quite like any other natural history museum you may have visited in the past. Not happy with just exhibiting history, the menagerie of local wildlife that make their home here adds a new dimension to the excitement that can be had at your local natural history museum!

One of the best ways to learn a little bit about everything in the Bend area is to visit the High Desert Museum, located at 59800 U.S. 97. This worthy establishment has been open since 1982 and is a monument to the celebration, preservation, and protection of everything natural in Oregon, as well as being a fascinating educational facility about our past! Proving that education can be entertaining, the museum offers the opportunity to “visit” an early 1900s version of Bend, as well as allowing tours of a sawmill that opened in the early 1900s and is still in use today. Animal encounters, wildlife art, and kid’s camps are just a few of the other fun experiences available to you when visiting this uniquely wonderful museum—stop by and check it out!

Living History

With all the modern conveniences available to us in the world today, we often take things for granted. We buy our fresh vegetables from the grocery store, our gas fireplaces turn on with the flip of a button, and we wash our clothes by throwing it all in a large machine and pushing a button. When you visit the Miller Family Ranch at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon, your children just may gain a new appreciation of how easy they really have it! They can watch and participate as Mrs. Miller and her son James show us how they have to do all the above chores in the year 1904. Your family can learn how early settlers struggled to find their way in this new country, and also tour the Lazinka Sawmill, built in 1904 and still in use today. Oregon history played an important part in America’s history, and these two living history exhibits show us how they did it!

The Exhibits

100,000 square feet of exhibit space means you might want to plan on making multiple trips to ensure you get to see it all; we predict yearly Sunriver vacations in your future! Keep reading for some highlights on exhibits you won’t want to miss out on!

Smokejumpers: Fire Fighters from the Sky – This temporary exhibit is only going to be on display through February of 2017, so you might want to schedule your vacation accordingly. Learn all about the 70 plus year history of smokejumping, the equipment necessary, and the unique people drawn to this type of firefighting.

Spirit of the West – This permanent indoor exhibit offers a fascinating glimpse into the past. Making history come alive is what The High Desert Museum in Bend, OR does best, and Spirit of the West offers the opportunity to experience life on the Oregon Trail, a settler’s cabin, the Hudson Bay Fort, and so many other examples of Western early life.

Miller Family Ranch – Have you ever wondered what ranch life was like in the early 1900s? This living example of a 1904 ranch gives you and your children the opportunity to not just read about that era, but to help with chores that were necessary for daily survival, including digging a garden, cross cutting lumber, and doing laundry.

Animal Encounters

Protecting our wildlife is an important part of the High Desert Museum’s mission, and many creatures who would not survive if released back into the wild have a safe place to live here at the museum; they offer us the chance to learn more about them. Otters, eels, birds of prey, Gila monsters, rattlesnakes—the list of wildlife that live and are protected in the museum is quite impressive, and throughout the day, animal encounters shows allow you to get even closer to them!

The Wildlife

Featuring wildlife that make their home in the area, The High Desert Museum in Bend, OR has quite a few live animal and reptile displays, some indoors, including a special bobcat (Vivi) who, having been raised in captivity, now makes her home in an atrium filled with trees. Other animals and reptiles who live in the museum (both inside and out) include desert creatures such as turtles, lizards, snakes, spiders, scorpions, porcupines, otters, and birds of prey. All of them have been rescued and would be unable to survive in the wild.

Too Much to Explain in a Single Page!

The only way to get a true idea of all that is available to view in the High Desert Museum in Bend, OR is to visit it—all 135 acres; walking shoes are recommended! When the day is over (museum hours are from 9AM-5PM every day), come home to your Sunriver Pines vacation home and pour yourself a glass of wine, walk out to the patio, and watch the sun set as you massage your tired tootsies! Reserve yours today and start planning the ultimate vacation!

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