The Warm Springs Indian Reservation is a fascinating place to visit especially if you have an interest in the history of the American Indians. When driving through the reservation you almost feel like you have entered a Hollywood Western Movie. That could be because movies have been filmed here. Bend of the River with James Stewart and Rock Hudson is one.
Visitors from out of state are usually surprised when they learn how big it is. It covers 544 square miles half of which is in forest. It has mountains, lakes, rivers, hot springs, wild horses and desert. Visitors traveling through Central Oregon are often on the reservation without even knowing it. If you travel from Highway 26 to Timothy Lake you actually travel through a portion of the reservation.
In 1855 the indians traded their traditional lands for the land on the reservation but retained fishing and hunting rights in their traditional lands. The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs include two tribes from the Columbia River area and the Palutes from southeast Oregon.
The town of Warm Springs is the only town on the reservation. The Warm Springs Museum is right in town and is definately worth a stop. Exhibits change throughout the year but generally you will see one of the largest collections of American Indian artifacts in the world. Artifacts have been donated by families over the years and include ceremonial items, beadwork, masks, baskets, old photographs, and leather work.
In the gift shop you can purchase beadwork, baskets and other crafts made by local indians.
Directly across from the museum is The Indian Head Casino where you can try lady luck at the slot machines and black jack tables. This is a new and larger casino which has replaced the one at Kahneeta.
From Warm Springs you can continue on to Madras which is off the reservation or you can take a side trip to Kahneeta, a resort owned by the Confederated Tribes. There is a convention center/hotel with restaurants and down below is a village with an Olympic size swimming pool, spa, guest rooms, restaurant, and teepees which can be rented by overnight guests. The swimming pool is heated with water from a hot springs and is a favorite place to go swimming both winter and summer for Oregonians. On average Kahneeta has 300 days of sunshine a year. You can also go on a horseback riding trip or play golf on the golf course.
There are a number of lakes, streams, and rivers on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation where the trout fishing in the crystal clear waters is excellent. You need a Confederated Tribes Fishing Permit which can be purchased online. These permits also alow you to camp in designated areas. The fishing permit site also gives detailed information about camping.My top hotel recommendation for this area is in nearby Madras. Inn at Cross Keys Station.
It is an easy drive from Mt. Hood or Bend to Warm Springs. Just take Highway 26 all the way. Take Highway 8 from the town of Warm Springs to Kahneeta.