One art scene that I have been delighted to discover while traveling is the art of building rock gardens. There aren’t (as far as I know) many throughout the states, as they take an impressive amount of time to not only build, but to design as well. So when I heard that a large one resided right outside of the supercharger in Bend Oregon, I knew I had to take the time to check it out. to my surprise, not only was this one of the more elaborate gardens I have come across, but it was filled with life ranging from cats to roosters to peacocks, all waiting to take a walk with you through this fantasy land.
Once considered a mecca of roadside attractions in Oregon, the Petersen Rock Garden was started in 1935 by Rasmus Petersen, a Danish immigrant. Using rocks from a 85 mile radius, he spent 17 years constructing bridges, landscapes and recreations of famous buildings until his death in 1952. Having (at it’s height) over 150,000 annual visitors, it brought joy to many a family that left the beautiful coastline or forests in search for something different in Oregon. Now managed by Petersen’s great-great-granddaughter, the park has seen better days. In 2013 it was entered into the National Record of Historic Places, but unless roadside attractions relive their hey day, the future of this beautiful space looks a little grim.
I spent a couple hours walking around the property and trying to appreciate that vast amount of commitment it would take to build something like this. The painstaking patience required blows my mind just thinking about it. While I was there, I was lucky enough to share the time with another visiting family. I sat and watched two young children run around in circles, amazed by this wonderland that, to them, seemed life sized. They would yell questions to their parents, getting one word answers as a response but not even listening for that answer as they ran around to the next discovery. A flock of peacocks oversaw the group, never too far behind them. I’m not sure whop was watching who more, the humans or the birds, as both of them had young they seemed to be keeping an eye on. As I left, I hoped that this place would be kept up. There is too much here just to let it decay. But shortly after, I was off. On to the next adventure.
Closest Supercharger Bend OR 14 mi
61535 S Hwy 97, Bend, OR 97702
Petersen Rock Garden
7930 SW 77th St, Redmond, OR 97756