Madras (pop. 6,000) is mostly known as a supply town for the surrounding agricultural area, which in places comes right up to downtown’s doorstep. West of town, the Crooked River, the Metolius River, and the Deschutes join up and are impounded by Round Butte Dam to form Lake Billy Chinook.
The main access to the lake is via Cove Palisades State Park. Downstream from the lake, the Deschutes River continues on its path to the Columbia. The most popular place for rafting the Deschutes is the area around Maupin, 47 miles north of Madras.
Madras is one of the region’s most culturally diverse towns: over 35 percent of its residents are Latino, and about 8 percent are Native American.
Accommodations and Food
Most of the lodgings in Madras are on the Spartan side. Sonny’s Motel (1539 SW U.S. 97, 541/475-7217 or 800/624-6137, $55 and up), a pretty basic place on the south end of town, is a good deal and allows pets.
The Best Western Madras Inn (12 SW 4th St., 541/475-6141, $84) is a step up; both Sonny’s and the Best Western have small outdoor pools, which are quite nice on a hot afternoon in Madras.
The new Inn at Cross Keys Station (66 NW Cedar St., 541/475-5800 or 877/475-5800, http://innatcrosskeysstation.com, $99 and up) is by far the most luxurious and restful place to stay in town. It has an indoor pool and conference facilities.
Amidst all the fast-food joints in Madras, there’s a shining beacon of healthy eating: Great Earth Natural Foods (46 SW D St., 541/475-1500, 8:30 a.m.–7:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri., 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Sat., $6–9) is a small food store with an exceptionally good deli. Stop in for a roasted vegetable salad, a sandwich, or a smoothie.
A long-time Madras favorite, Pepe’s (221 SE 5th St., 541/475-1144, 10 a.m.–8 p.m. daily, $7–11), is a good all-around Mexican restaurant.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel