A couple days ago, we went on a Lower Crooked River drive. We were there early in the morning, attempting to avoid an incoming storm system. I remembered I had been there about a year earlier for an afternoon drive. How would the lighting differ in the photos taken on both trips?
Just south of Prineville, Oregon, the Lower Crooked River Back Country Byway winds its way along the Crooked River. The 43-mile long road meets up with Highway 20 to the south.
This post highlights the 8-mile section between Prineville Reservoir and Castle Rock. See map at the end of the post. On this drive, the curving lines of the road and river contrast with the straight lines of geological features.
A morning drive
As we drove north from the reservoir, shadows covered the east side of the road. The morning light cast a warm glow over the canyon lands.
Basalt columns looked pretty in full light…
But took on more character in the shadows.
The Bureau of Land Management notes, “The most significant contributor to the outstandingly remarkable geologic resource are the unique intra-canyon basalt formations created by recurring volcanic and hydrologic activities.”
Chimney Rock was shrouded in shadows. Rays of sunlight snuck through the cloud cover to cast light near the butte’s base.
I have hiked the 1.3-mile trail to the base of Chimney Rock. You get 360-degree views of the landscape and, in the spring, you’ll see stunning desert wildflowers in bloom.
As we rounded another curve, I saw the dark gray palisade formations in the distance that always catch my attention.
An afternoon drive
I remembered seeing them a year before, driving from the opposite direction. The afternoon light was starting to shade the palisade formations near Palisades Campground.
Parts of the road were in full sunlight, while distant hillsides were shaded.
The columns of basalt appeared to bend in the midday heat.
Near the northern end of the Lower Crooked River drive, where the scenic part begins, rimrock formations emerged from smooth hillsides. They serve as a gateway to the Lower Crooked River, where dramatic landforms reflect the light and absorb the shadows.
Lower Crooked River camping
This section of Highway 27 includes nine campsites and two day-use areas. See Lower Crooked Wild and Scenic River, Chimney Rock Segment for more information.