Road Trip: Warm Springs

November 13, 2016 (Updated December 23, 2016)

Seated between the Mt. Hood and Deschutes National forests, the town of Warm Springs is the modern day home of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and the central commercial district of their 640,000-acre reservation. The Confederated Tribes are the ancestors of the Wascos, Paiutes and Upper and Lower Deschutes bands of Walla Wallas. They number about 5,000 and approximately 3,300 of them live here in his land of buttes and flats under the gaze of the Cascade Mountain range. Perhaps the most famous tribal member is Lillian Pitt, a renowned sculptor whose work can be seen in public art spaces and at the Confluence Project’s Vancouver Land Bridge, as well as various galleries around the Pacific Northwest.


Located just off of US Highway 26, The Museum at Warm Springs offers an uncommon view into the history, heritage and traditions of the tribes. The beautiful longhouse-meets-contemporary building hosts permanent and traveling exhibits in 25,000 square feet of space. The collection includes paintings, beadwork, ceremonial clothing and masks as well as an archive of 2,500 photos. The permanent collection is rotated throughout the year, so visitors always see something new. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Try your luck at the nearby Indian Head Casino with blackjack, slot machines, dining and a convenient travel plaza.

The tribal-owned Kah-Nee-ta Resort and Spa can be found just north of town on Highway 8. Visitors relax at the Spa Wanapine (Spa by the River) with massage, body treatments and mineral soaks from the steaming waters of an underground hot springs. The family-friendly resort has activities to suit all ages from the outdoor pool and mini-golf to horseback riding, tennis and golf. Accommodations include lodge rooms, condo-style options, teepees and RV camping.

Several scenic hikes leave from the resort, including the 2.6-mile route to Ravens Roost, a heart-pumping climb to the 2,200-foot north rim with views of the snow-capped Cascade Mountains and surrounding flatlands. A more moderate 2-mile trail leads to Charley Canyon with views of the Warm Springs River and striking red sandstone cliffs.

About The

Eileen Garvin
Eileen Garvin lives and writes in Hood River. When she’s not hunched over her keyboard or digging in the garden, you can find her mountain biking, kiteboarding, hiking, skiing or camping somewhere in Oregon.