When we moved to Redmond a few years ago one of the attractions for us was the Dry Canyon. The City of Redmond, Oregon has turned this wonderful natural geological formation into a delightful park system that has natural high desert landscape as well as modern amenities like tennis courts, baseball fields, basketball courts, soccer fields, a dog park, a skateboard area, and concert areas. There are also traditional park services for picnicking, including a pavilion, benches, picnic tables, and water fountains.
The off leash dog park is a favorite gathering place for dog lovers. The park has areas for small dogs and large dogs. There are chairs and shelters for the human friends and frequently large numbers of tennis balls appear for the fun of both pets and people.
This multi-use park and trail system offers something for everyone, from horseback riders, cyclists and skateboarders to walkers, joggers, tennis players and concert goers. The park offers a main paved path the entire 4 miles of its length as well as unpaved side trails for those who want a more natural trail experience.
The paved Dry Canyon Trail is 4 miles along the canyon floor from the northern end at Spruce Avenue, passing under the Maple Street Bridge and Highland Avenue at American Legion Park, and ending at Quartz Avenue. It only crosses one city street at Black Butte Blvd. so it allows safe use for all ages while preserving the natural ambiance of the park.
In 2013 the Redmond Proficiency Academy painted a mural through the underpass of Highland Avenue. The theme was Central Oregon Once Upon a Time and included a dragon breathing Mt Mazama.
The terrain is high desert juniper, sage, and grasses. Wild life can occasionally be seen. We have seen deer early in the morning as well as yellow-bellied marmots (aka “rock chucks”), magpies, scrub jays, hawks, mourning doves, stellar jays, rabbits, mountain chickadees, robins, and Juncos.
Along the 4 miles, you will pass through two playgrounds at American Legion Park and Sam Johnson Park. Redmond’s skate park, off leash dog park, and disc golf course are also located along the route. In addition to the paved trail, there is mountain bike trail for nearly the full length of the canyon with multiple trails in some areas.
Geology of Dry Canyon
The steep canyon walls serve as a tribute to this area’s volcanic past. There are high lava walls at the north end of the park.
According to an informational kiosk at the trail head, the lava that flowed through Dry Canyon is not part of the Deschutes Formation which ranges in age from 4 to 8 million years old. Instead the flows are from Newberry Volcano which is less than a half million years old. Recent geologic work on this inter canyon flow indicates that it is only about 75,000 years old and comes from a group of small vents west of Horse Butte, south of Bend. Recent geologic work indicates that the prior to about 78,000 years ago the canyon was the main channel of the Deschutes River. At about 78,000 years ago a flow in the Bend area diverted the river westward in to its present channel. Then about 75,000 years ago another eruption sent flows northward which spilled into the old canyon and partially filled it.
The Dry Canyon rim is made up of “Rimrock” basalt while the floor of the canyon is composed of volcanic debris ranging from fine ash to large block as much as 10 feet in diameter.
Lava tubes at the south end of Dry Canyon distributed lava northwesterly into the canyon. The lava was funneled through the canyon and spread out into a wide are to the north. The canyon floor was left with a flat surface over the years. This has been overlain by alluvium (soil) built up by the forces of weather and plant life.
How to get there
There are several entrances to the park with parking lots at the north, middle and south ends. The parking lot at the dog park off of Black Butte Blvd and the one at the American Legion Park off of Highland Ave are the most convenient.