Best known for its world-class golfing, resorts, and outdoor recreation, Sunriver, Oregon began humbly as a training base for troops in World War II. The base, known as Camp Abbott, opened in 1942 where present-day Sunriver Resort stands.
Before World War II, Sunriver was inhabited by Native American people and many years before that, it was a barren wasteland of rock and lava. Sunriver has metamorphosed many times, leaving behind a legacy of interesting social and geological history. Below, we’ve compiled five of our favorite historical Sunriver, OR activities an sites.
Lava Lands Visitor Center
7,000 years ago, Lava Butte erupted and covered the land around the Lava Lands Visitor Center in a sea of volcanic rock. Today, the Lava Lands Visitor Center stands in the midst of the cooled rock to inform visitors about the surrounding landscape. Part information center and part park station, Lava Lands Visitor Center is not like your typical museum.
After you learn a couple of cool facts like how astronauts walked on the land surrounding Lava Lands Visitor Center to train for the 1960s moon landing, you can walk outside and be immersed in the geological history. You can find the Lava Lands Visitor Center by driving North on Highway 97 towards Bend.
A few miles from the Lava Lands Visitor Center, you can drive to the top of Lava Butte, which is a cinder cone on the Northwest flank of Newberry Volcano.
As part of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, you can walk around the top of Lava Butte and read informational and historical signage to learn about its last eruption about 7,000 years ago. You can find Lava Butte by following traffic signs from the Lava Lands Visitor Center.
The Oregon Observatory
Depending how far back in history you want to learn about, The Oregon Observatory at Sunriver is a highly interactive and entertaining experience. Learn about the creation of our planets, moons, and stars from The Oregon Observatory’s welcoming staff while looking through telescopes at meteors, far away galaxies, and nebulae.
With almost a dozen telescopes and many knowledgeable astronomers on staff, The Oregon Observatory is a must for visitors to Sunriver. You can find its location adjacent to Sunriver’s Nature Center.
The Great Hall – Sunriver, OR Activities
Despite Sunriver’s prominent role in the US military during World War II, few remnants of its history remain. The exception to this is Camp Abbott’s Great Hall, which was spared when tearing down the Camp to make room for The Sunriver Resort.
Inside the Great Hall, visitors are usually surprised to see massive wood and stone support structures, handmade banisters and railings, and painstakingly crafted details throughout the Great Hall. Although the Great Hall is used for special Sunriver, OR activities and weddings, visitors can usually take a quick tour during Sunriver Resort’s normal business hours.
The Huntington Wagon Road
Once used as a wagon road for hauling supplies from The Dalles to build Fort Klamath, The Huntington Wagon Road is now a 2-mile round trip easy hike.
Although artifacts found along the trail are all on display at the Deschutes Historical Museum, visitors of The Huntington Wagon Road can still learn about the soldiers, pioneers, and explorers who used the road and visit a historical campsite along the trail.
To find The Huntington Wagon Road, head North on Highway 97 past Bend.
Choosing Sunriver Pines
Sunriver, Oregon is one of the most beautiful locations in Central Oregon. With fantastic views of Mount Bachelor, the Deschutes River, and the surrounding high desert, there’s hardly a bad view in the entire town.
At Sunriver Pines, we represent the very best vacation homes available in Sunriver, Oregon. With wonderful views, plenty of square footage, and ultimate privacy, our gorgeous vacation rentals have everything you’ll need to fully relax and recharge.
Browse our available vacation rentals online today!