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Oregon Badlands Wilderness

The Oregon Badlands Wilderness is Central Oregon's first desert wilderness area. This page includes maps, information about hiking in the Badlands, driving directions and photos of the Badlands.

Bend's backyard desert wonderland!

Located just 15 miles east of Bend, the Badlands is a 30,000 acre wilderness area containing fascinating lava flows and ancient junipers. This area was named for its harsh terrain and fantastic rock formations. Within this landscape, one can find incredible displays of desert wildflowers, dry river canyons, castle-like rock formations, and Native American pictographs. Click HERE to download a trail map of the Oregon Badlands Wilderness Area.

Old Growth Juniper
An old-growth juniper in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness.
Photo: Greg Burke

Some of Oregon's oldest trees! Another defining feature of the Oregon Badlands Wilderness is its ancient forests of western juniper.  While juniper is sometimes considered invasive in other ecosystems in Central Oregon, the trees are native to the volcanic soils of the Badlands, with many junipers estimated to be over 1000 years old.  These gnarled and mysterious trees combined with the volcanic landscape make visiting the Badlands an otherworldly experience. Old growth juniper are easy to spot: just look for the trees with rounded/asymmetrical rather than conical tops, furrowed, reddish bark and lots of bright green lichen covering their branches.

Community supported Wilderness! The Badlands Wilderness campaign was one of the first efforts that brought the founding members of ONDA together, and it remained a focus of our group through much organizational growth and change. Over the years, this special area gained an ever-increasing fan base as new people discovered its subtle beauty. When Senator Ron Wyden introduced the Oregon Badlands Wilderness Act in June of 2008, he did so with broad support throughout the Central Oregon community. Nearly 3000 local citizens wrote letters to Senator Wyden urging him to take the lead on designating the Badlands as Wilderness. Hundreds of residents put up bright yellow "Protect Badlands Wilderness" signs in their yards. Over 200 business supported permanent protection for the Badlands, including 10 of Central Oregon's top 25 employers, such as Deschutes Brewery and Mt. Bachelor.

After over 20 years of work by thousands of dedicated volunteers and supporters, the Oregon Badlands Wilderness Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 30 2009, permanently protecting this special landscape for future generations.

View this video about the Oregon Badlands Wilderness and the volunteers who work to keep it wild. Find more information about volunteering in the Badlands HERE.

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