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What defines Oregon’s high desert?

What defines Oregon’s high desert?

Bounded by the Cascade Mountains to the west and the Blue Mountains to the north, Oregon’s high desert covers approximately 24,000 square miles. Annual rainfall in the high desert varies from 5 to 14 inches. The average elevation is 4,000 feet; at 9,733 feet, the summit of Steens Mountain is the highest point in Oregon’s high desert. The terrain of the high desert was mostly formed by a series of lava flows that occurred between 30 and 10 million years ago.

Sources: The Oregon Encyclopedia; Wikipedia  

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Central Oregon’s “Backyard Wilderness”

Central Oregon’s “Backyard Wilderness”

Our quest to protect the Oregon Badlands

Located just 15 miles east of Bend, Oregon Badlands is a 30,000-acre wilderness area filled with fascinating lava flows and ancient juniper trees Arriving in the Badlands, so named for its rugged and harsh terrain, can feel like stepping

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The Last Darkness

The Last Darkness

Just In: Desert Ramblings Newsletter

Inside the Spring + Summer 2024 Desert Ramblings Newsletter, you'll find stories on securing historic protections in southeastern Oregon, desert wildlife and Oregon's best conservation opportunity.

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Shannon Phifer

Finally! BLM Protects Owyhee Canyonlands

The Bureau of Land Management finalized a new plan conserving more than 400,000 acres in Oregon’s Owyhee Canyonlands. Dive into how this momentous decision will secure historic wildlands protections.

Read Our Deep Dive

Recovering Essential Desert Waters

ONDA's spring stewardship trips are underway. This season, we'll be working with tribes to restore the lifeblood of desert ecosystems in Pine Creek. Learn more about the projects and methods we'll be implementing.

Read On

Steve Vidito

Welcome to Oregon's High Desert

With natural beauty, deep cultural significance and a wide array of plants and wildlife, Oregon’s high desert is an impressive stretch of the Pacific Northwest, situated on the northern edge of the Great Basin.
Much of Oregon’s desert is public land, available to all Americans equally. If you like to hike  bike, raft, fish, hunt, stargaze, go birding, watch wildlife, or enjoy any number of other recreational pursuits, you can find an amazing spot to do that here, and enjoy abundant solitude, too.
Oregon Natural Desert Association invites you to see for yourself how unique and wild Oregon’s dry side is.
Discover Oregon’s Desert

Central Oregon Backcountry

Visit Central Oregon

Greg Burke   Website

Greater Hart-Sheldon Region

Explore Hart-Sheldon

Greg Burke   Website

John Day River Basin

Discover John Day

Steve Roelof   Website

Owyhee Canyonlands

Explore the Owyhee

Mark Darnell

Steens Mountain Region

Visit Steens

Barb Rumer

Oregon Desert Trail

Trek the Oregon Desert Trail

Sage Brown   Website

Caring for the Desert We Love

Oregon Natural Desert Association encourages people to get to know the desert and to take steps to conserve these public lands. ONDA is a non-profit organization that defends public lands from threats, partners with public and private land managers to preserve natural values, encourages the exploration of wild places, and restores lands and waters to give desert wildlife safe habitat in which to thrive.    
Our Approach

The Voice of the Desert

ONDA is the only conservation organization dedicated exclusively to preserving Oregon’s high desert. Our members and supporters live in Portland, Bend, all throughout Oregon state, across the country, and abroad.
Our dream? We envision a high desert in Oregon where eight million acres of public lands are conserved to ensure that fish and wildlife thrive and wild places exist for all people to treasure and explore, now and always.
About Us

Jim Davis   Website

Gary Calicott   Website

Jill Hardy

Gena Goodman-Campbell

Sage Brown   Website

Get Involved

Looking to get to know this desert and this community better?
The best way to hear about upcoming events ONDA is hosting and stewardship work we are leading is to sign up for our email updates.  
Subscribe Today

Land Acknowledgment

ONDA’s conservation work takes place on the traditional lands of the Northern Paiute, Wasco, Warm Springs, Bannock and Shoshone people, as well as ceded lands of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, and on lands currently managed by the Burns Paiute Tribe and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs. Many Indigenous peoples live in Oregon’s high desert region today, including members of the Burns Paiute Tribe, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs (Wasco, Warm Springs and Paiute), the Klamath Tribes (Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin) and the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe.