Petersen Rock Gardens & Museum

Years in the making
Visitors in 1950
Visitors in 1974
A new era begins

Winter hours for the grounds are 10:00 to 4:00 Saturday and Sunday.

Closed on weekdays.

An open letter to friends, family, and community - August 2022

As you may have come to know, the Petersen Rock Gardens and Museum in Central Oregon has been put up for sale and is in the process of transition. We understand that this historic and special piece of our community is revered, loved, and is being sought by many to be restored and kept open for future generations.

As such, we are very pleased to announce our shared intentions for the Petersen Rock Gardens and Museum are to do just that, in alignment with Rasmus Petersen’s vision that began in 1935, to follow our passions for creativity, community participation, and to hold together a place of wonder for us all to enjoy. For almost one hundred years this vision has been unfolding through Rasmus, his children, and his children’s children, and our intentions are to work together to ensure that another one hundred years of joy and wonder are alive and well in Central Oregon on this very special national treasure.

More than seventy years ago, the Petersen Rock Gardens and Museum had already become a tourist attraction that drew 120,000 visitors annually and did not even charge admission. Rasmus encouraged donations, sold merchandise in the museum, and opened a small cafe to cater to the visitors coming from around the world. Today it is operated by his dear granddaughter, Susan Caward, with the same selflessness and dedication to the joy and wonder that this special attraction holds that is admired for the painstaking work, years of dedication, and artistry of Rasmus Petersen. By 1974, more than 250,000 people a year were visiting the Rock Garden, and has since done very well to weather the many years of change as the area and community grew around the original site, bringing up challenges such as water use, public access, and the ability to operate a farm, a museum with Native American artifacts, and a cafe on lands that were homesteaded in 1905, and now holds a designation on the National Register of Historic Places from the Department of Interior and identified as a Folk Art Environment.

In 2011, the Rock Garden made the list of Oregon’s Most Endangered Places, and through a preservation grant from Restore Oregon, was able to document and obtain its unique historic and folk art environment status, for its significance as an exceptional work of art that combines architecture, landscape, art, and sculpture in a unified whole, and is recognized by the National Park Service, the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office, the Deschutes County Historic Landmarks Commission, the Redmond Historic Landmarks Commission, and the Bend Historic Landmarks Commission.

These and many more unique qualities are what attracts us all to this very special place, and as we continue to explore what it may take to restore this beloved jewel of Oregon, we humbly ask for your continued patience, support, and a heart of creativity on how we may work together to restore, revitalize, and bring into being a shared and true history of place, space, and meaning.

By touching upon themes as diverse as the importance of storytelling, gifts versus commodities, reciprocity with nature, and the changing meaning of the sacred in the present world, our intentions are to explore how our communities and society might begin to heal the human-nature divide through techniques and philosophies that remix traditional wisdom and bring forward ancient future technology, such as Rasmus Petersen’s vision as it is known today as the Petersen Rock Gardens and Museum, and in connection with the Tygh, Wyam, and affiliated tribes of the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs and others from around the world.

In Grateful Appreciation,

Petersen Rock Gardens & Museum
A consortium of local non-for-profit organizations and residents
For inquiries, please email
To offer support, please email
Or leave a message at 541-904-0557.