Contemplating Sagebrush and Ancient Sandals at Fort Rock in Oregon
Fort Rock dwarfs the sagebrush mounds that pad the desert around it. You can see into the eroded tuff ring from the road, but grasping the scale of the structure requires entering the crater. Trails on the crater floor make exploration easy. Prairie Falcons live and hunt within the red walls, and the gravel below their nests is littered with sun-bleached bones of unlucky rodents. Fort Rock Cave earned archaeological fame when sagebrush sandals discovered inside proved to be the earliest known footwear in the world. Today the cave is a National Heritage Site, and tours are available by appointment. A few miles up the road, another preservation effort is underway at the Homestead Village Museum. The local historical society relocates homestead-era buildings here for restoration, preservation, and visitation. Fort Rock has a unique vibe—and it’s worth the dusty drive to pass some time among cool remnants of times past.
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