Where to Stay Near Smith Rock State Park: The Solar Lookout Tower

The Solar Lookout vacation rental stands above Central Oregon’s desert treetops and Deschutes River Canyon, just ten minutes away from Smith Rock State Park and half an hour north of Bend.

As soon as I found the listing on Airbnb.com (a longtime favorite vacation rental resource of ours), I felt that familiar giddy rush of striking travel gold. We exchanged notes with the host, locked in our visit dates, and looked forward to our three night stay.

A privately owned vacation rental lookout tower near Central Oregon’s Smith Rock State Park
Terrebonne, Oregon

A lovely, tattered copy of Glenda Kaser Alm’s book, View from the Solar Lookout, gave me a peek into the original owner/builder’s dream to construct the tower. I believe it’s a self-published book; I’d pay money to own it, but I was glad for the chance to read the original copy that lives in the tower library.

Daily Travel Journal Excerpt:

Friday, February 14th, 2014
First trip as a family of three. Ted loaded the car, commenting on the difference between packing for two for a year and packing for two adults and a baby for one weekend: generally something like ten times the amount of stuff for the latter. Drove south to the family farm, swapped our Corolla for a Toyota Pickup, and made our way out and over the Cascades by way of the Santiam Pass. Lucie slept from Salem to Sisters, and a pit stop at the Sisters Coffee Company for a hot drink and a bit to eat tided us all over until Terrebonne. Red lava rock roads. Sagebrush and juniper every direction. The Lookout Tower peeked over the tops of the scrubby trees and we knew we were close. Pulled in, parked, and headed up. Unpacked. Read books by the later afternoon sun. Made dinner and tapioca for my true love. Tucked Lucie in “bed” (of course we forgot the pack-n-play; a pile of wool blankets for a mattress and a her favorite blankie did the trick). Listened for coyotes from the third story deck. Drank hot tea. Curled up. Called it a night.

A dusting of snow the morning after Valentine’s Day

360 degree views from the top story + deck

“Every Day is Earth Day”

Our Favorite Memory: Inviting our friends Sam and Amber and their little son Owen to make the drove out from Sisters, Oregon and join us for dinner. Amber and I sat exchanging stories up on the third floor while the dads took the little ones on a mini-hike to the Deschutes River Canyon overlook at the property’s edge. Ted cooked a feast, the fireplace flickered, and we enjoyed the perfect sunset over the Cascade Mountains.

Terrebonne, Oregon
A privately owned tower above the treetops near Central Oregon’s Smith Rock State Park.

Our Favorite Amenities: Amazing sunrises and sunsets from the 360 degree panoramic third story deck and windows; the salvaged clawfoot soaking tub and carpentry details built from reclaimed wood; a hot tub under the stars.
Setting: Half an hour from Bend, Oregon (forty minutes from Sisters Coffee Company!), and just ten minutes from Smith Rock State Park in Central Oregon.

The Solar Lookout Tower is situated to the west of Smith Rock State Park. Oregonians and rock climbers know the area well, and this year, thanks to Travel Oregon, the rest of the world is getting an introduction:


Smith Rock: A quick ten minute drive east

Image: TravelOregon.com

See other featured accommodations around the region in our Where to Stay in the Pacific Northwest directory.

Visit the blog for more photos and stories about our stay.

1 Comment

  • Reply Three Stories Up: A Lookout Tower Weekend in Central Oregon - twoOregonianstwoOregonians April 6, 2014 at 10:49 am

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