Surrounded by thousands of acres of sweet-smelling Ponderosa pines (some say the fragrance is vanilla, others swear it’s butterscotch), central Oregon’s Camp Sherman is a tiny wooded community that’s big on breathing space. Whether you forego hook-ups in favor of a scenic pull-through next to the rushing Metolius River (bring your fly rod and waders), or prefer the comforts of electricity at a small RV park, you’ll find both in Camp Sherman.
The 85-year-old Camp Sherman general store still has a wooden floor yet carries all the supplies any camper would need for a day, week or more—groceries, fresh deli sandwiches, maps and books, souvenir T-shirts, even gourmet foods and wines. The friendly staff will gladly answer questions about the area and happily show off the store’s assortment of over 1,000 fishing flies. The attached post office is not only a place to mail a picturesque postcard, it also acts as a book exchange—take a free book or magazine and leave another in its place. A small elementary school, chapel, community hall, and the fine dining Kokanee Café round out this miniature neighborhood that just 250 locals call home.
Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery
Even if you’re not a fish culturist, visit Camp Sherman’s Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery. Large open tanks contain over three million fish—rainbow and brook trout, kokanee and Atlantic salmon—that are raised here until released into the wild. A separate large pond is home to some real whoppers! Other than the occasional eagle or raccoon snatching its next meal, the pond and tanks are meant for viewing and not for angling. But do take along a couple of quarters to buy pellet fish food from the dispensers. Toss the morsels into the tanks and watch lightening-fast fish compete for a snack (resident geese also enjoy the fish food). It’s great entertainment for just twenty-five cents!
Headwaters of the Metolius River
Don’t miss the nearby headwaters of the Metolius River about two miles upriver. It’s hard to believe that any waterway designated as a Wild and Scenic River starts by gently bubbling up from an underground spring, but it does, and then immediately widens into a 29-mile-long, fast-moving icy current. The headwaters also provide a perfect foreground for capturing 10,497-foot Mount Jefferson on camera.
Driving directions from Portland, Oregon: I-5 south to Highway 22. Head east on Highway 22. Veer onto Highway 20. Camp Sherman is situated on Forest Service Road 14, which runs off Highway 20 (about 10 miles northwest of Sisters and two hours east of Salem).
In addition to writing about her travels, Denise Seith is also a treasure hunter and loves a good latté. She and her husband own an online gold prospecting and metal detecting equipment store found at GoldRushTradingPost.com