Located 25 miles southeast of Newberry Volcano in a southeastern Oregon lake bed formed in the ice age, Fort Rock is an iconic geological formation that rises up to 300 feet above the sage-filled high desert landscape.
Estimated to have been created as many as 100,000 years ago, magma pushed through a giant pluvial lake (Fort Rock Lake) and created a tuff ring roughly a half-mile in diameter. Originally a circular mound of granular ash, lava particulates, and mud from the lake-bed, the formation has slowly weathered and eroded into the jagged formation found today. As you visit, look closely around the base of Fort Rock to find numerous signs of smooth erosion caused by the lapping waters of Fort Rock Lake.
Fort Rock is also famed as being home to some of the oldest-known human artifacts found anywhere in North America. Within the Fort Rock Cave, just west of the main Fort Rock formation, archeologists have discovered more than 70 sagebrush and bark woven sandals that are between 9,000 and 13,000 years old.
Previously located within private property owned by ranchers Reuben "Reub" and Eleanor Long, the 370 acres surrounding Fork Rock was donated by the couple to the State of Oregon in 1962. The state created Fork Rock State Park and later renamed it Fort Rock State Natural Area.
One of the Oregon's true Wild West experiences, the Silver Lake Cowboy Dinner Tree serves up some of the best and biggest steaks (30 ounces!) in the state, has some of the friendliest hosts, and is a must-stop for any visitor in the Fort Rock/Silver Lake area. While dining next to a wood-fired stove in the festooned cabin you'll have two choices for dinner, a 26- to 30-ounce top sirloin steak or a whole roasted chicken. Seriously, come prepared with an appetite as their pre-set meals aren't for lightweights.
From June 1 through October 31 the Silver Lake Cowboy Dinner Tree is open Thursday through Sunday from 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.; from November through May it is open from Friday through Sunday from 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Reservations are required and only cash is accepted. Call 541.576.2426 for reservations and pricing. It is located 5.1 miles south of Silver Lake on E Bay Road/NF-28, roughly a 45-minute drive from Fort Rock.