Petersen Rock Garden is a unique Oregon landmark located 7 miles south of Redmond and 10 miles north of Bend. The rock garden is a museum consisting of a variety of miniature buildings constructed out of a vast range of rocks, minerals, shells, bits of glass, and other materials found in the area. Petersen Rock Garden takes 4-acres of space and gives visitors plenty of opportunities to explore and enjoy numerous examples of human ingenuity and creativity.
Buildings and constructions you can see in the garden include churches, castles, cottages, towers, bridges, various landscape elements, a concrete American Flag, and even a miniature version of the Statue of Liberty. Minerals used in the construction include, but are not limited to jasper, agate, lava rock, petrified wood, obsidian, malachite, thundereggs, and much more.
One of the features of the museum is a fluorescent room with miniature castles glowing in the dark constructed out of uranium, zinc, tungsten, and manganese. Visitors can also see beautiful peafowls walking around the area of the garden. There is a small gift shop where you can buy semi-precious gemstones, fossils, and crystals.
Petersen Rock Garden was founded in 1935 by the Danish immigrant Rasmus Petersen. Petersen moved to Central Oregon at the age of 17. In 1935 he started building the rock garden on his house property out of the materials he gathered within an 85-mile radius of his place. Petersen’s goal was to bring together the architecture of his native country and symbols of the United States. Rasmus Petersen kept working on his project up until he died in 1952. After Petersen passed away, his family took over the management of the garden.
Currently, Susan Caward, Petersen’s granddaughter, is the one taking care of the garden. In 2011 Petersen Rock Garden was named as one of Oregon’s most endangered places because of the damage done to the museum by time, elements, and people. In 2012, the contractor accidentally damaged one of the stone bridges in the park. This event led to an effort to collect laser scan data on all of the objects in Petersen Rock Garden to restore those if irreversible damage occurs.
Petersen Rock Garden was closed a few times for repairs and on October 30, 2013, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places due to its importance and the preservation of history it carries.
Petersen Rock Garden | General Description
Open: Year-round, day-use
Services: Rock shop & museum, picnic sites
Distance from the parking: Short
Road access: Any passenger vehicle
Day-use fees: Yes
Elevation: 400 ft (122 m)
Peterson Rock Garden is located:
- 12 miles north of Bend
- 130 miles southeast of Salem.
- Take Highway US-97 and travel 8.5 miles north to 61 Street
- Turn left onto 61st Street and drive 1.1 miles to Young Avenue
- Turn left onto Young Avenue and follow 1 mile to 77th Street
- Bear right and continue 0.5 miles to the destination on the right.