18 Trail Towns
Along the Oregon Desert Trail

Jim Davis

watch

The Last Darkness

The Last Darkness

voices

John Cunningham, ONDA member and volunteer

John Cunningham, ONDA member and volunteer

Restoration is hard slow work. It takes hold, or it doesn’t, in fits and starts. The immensity of the need can be discouraging, but we must carry on. I am so thankful ONDA carries on.

listen

Great Basin Spadefoot Toads – a sleepy chorus

Great Basin Spadefoot Toads – a sleepy chorus

Below find a few businesses, attractions, or highlights in each of the Oregon Desert Trail’s four regions:

Pine Mountain Observatory - At the top of Pine Mountain (ODT mile 27.2) find a University of Oregon facility for astronomy education and research. The observatory has three Cassegrain-reflecting telescopes and is open to the public on dark sky weekends from late May through the last weekend of September, weather permitting (note: check the website for updates on 2021 opening)

Sid's Produce - Your source for fresh produce in Christmas Valley (CV Alternate mile 84.3). Fresh fruits and veggies are a hiker's delight; stock up on a wide array of the kinds of foods you might not throw in your pack, but dream about during those hot desert days.

Summer Lake Hot Springs - You won't want to miss this wonderful oasis (6 miles north of ODT mile 160.5). Rent a cabin and enjoy the radiant floor heating, tent on the lawn and soak in the historic bath house, or just come for the day and soak the soreness of the trail away with a breathtaking view of Winter Rim.

Pioneer Saloon & Restaurant - Grab a burger, beer or pizza and marvel at the history of the place (ODT mile 160.5). Fun fact: the tavern hosts a beautiful Brunswick bar, made in Boston in 1905 and shipped around the tip of South America to Portland where it made its way to Arlington and then traveled south to Paisley by a six-horse freight team in 1906.

Tall Town Bike & Camp - This store has become an essential stop in Lakeview (9 miles south of ODT mile 208). Find new or rental gear, camping supplies, fuel, backpacking food, and even Sawyer Mini filters (a thru-hiker favorite). Owner Thom is a great ODT supporter and offers rides to Cox Creek Rd. or the Mill Trailhead and just asks for donations towards gas. *ODT trail register here

Campbell Cove Lanes - Couches, free wifi, beer, pizza, and bowling oh my! We don't blame you if you end up spending all day here before hiking out into the Warner Mountains.

Back of Beyond House Rental - Cam & Christine Newton offer a couple of cozy cabins you can rent in a wonderful aspen and ponderosa grove...right off the Lakeview Alternate route.

Hart Mountain Store - This is your one-stop-shop in Plush (1 mile south of ODT mile 265.8). The Hart Mountain Store is your restaurant, bar, store (limited resupply options), post office, gas station, and hub of activity at the base of Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge.

Steens Mountain Brewing Company - Harney County's craft brewery offers a selection of their own tasty beverages along with a mouth-watering menu...including vegetarian options. You won't want to miss this stop in Burns (60 miles north of ODT mile 374.2) as you travel to or from the Steens Mountain Wilderness or Alvord Desert.

Steens Mountain Wilderness Resort - Perched above Page Springs Campground and the Donner und Blitzen Wild and Scenic River, the Steens Mountain Wilderness Resort (ODT mile 377) offers cabins, tenting, and RV spots (and wifi for overnight guests). The small store carries a few personal items and snacks; Even better? Hikers can send a resupply package here.

Fields Station - Don't miss a chance to try one of the famous milkshakes or burgers when you finish walking across the Alvord Desert. The Fields Station (ODT mile 438.4) carries enough supplies for a basic resupply stop, has beer on tap, and a few rooms to rest your head (camping is free!).

Denio Junction - When hikers emerge from traversing the rugged and awe-inspiring Pueblo Mountains, Denio Junction (3.5 miles south of ODT mile 467) beckons. Find a restaurant, bar, gas station, and hotel with laundry (washing machines are in short supply along the ODT, so don't let this one pass!) at this hospitable trail town.

Quinn River Merc/Chevron - This small Nevada town is a hop, skip, and a jump from the Oregon border, and directly along the McDermitt Alternate (9 miles south of the main ODT at mile 538.9). Fuel up before the long push through the Owyhee region at the Quinn River Merc. A full resupply is possible, and the deli has some of the best Basque chorizo around (a vestige of the Basque sheepherders that came to the region in the late 1880's).

Rome Station - Over 100 miles from the last stop of McDermitt, hikers will stumble deliriously into Rome Station (ODT mile 660.8) for a meal (or five), a cozy bed in the cabins, or a tent spot on the lawn. A small store offers limited supplies, beer, and wifi. If you called to arrange sending a resupply box, you can rest easy and prop your feet up for some well-deserved rest.

Lake Owyhee State Park - A small rock jetty just off of Indian Springs Campground in Lake Owyhee State Park (ODT mile 751.5) marks the end (or beginning) of the Oregon Desert Trail. This state park hosts a few campgrounds with showers, electricity, and boat launches. Marvel at the views of the Owyhee geology and pat yourself on the back for making it this far!

Friends of the Owyhee - Friends of the Owyhee (FOTO) is a nonprofit organization focused on conservation advocacy, stewardship, and responsible recreation in the Owyhee region...and they want to be your trail angels! Do you need a ride to or from the trail? Help placing a water cache? Need info about the region? FOTO is there to assist.

18 Trail Towns
Along the Oregon Desert Trail

Author: Renee Patrick  | Updated: August 24, 2021  |  Category: Where-To Curious about where to find a shower, meal, or museum while you are exploring the high desert? The extensive Town & Services Guide was created to help hikers find the businesses and services they need in the 18 different communities along or near...

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21 Day Hikes
Along the Oregon Desert Trail

Author: Renee Patrick  | Updated: August 17, 2021  |  Category: Where-to Intrigued by the Oregon Desert Trail but don’t have the time or inclination to hike all 750 miles? These day hike options provide excellent opportunities to sample short sections of the full route. Refer to each section to in the Oregon Desert Trail...

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Where-to:
Swim in the John Day Basin

Author: Joanna Zhang  |  Published: July 19, 2021  |  Categories: Where-to  Five fantastic swimming holes on the John Day River You might not think of heading to the desert when you want to go swimming. That’s quite understandable. While Oregon’s high desert isn’t pulsing with waterfalls like the west side of Cascade crest, the...

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Where-to: Have the Most Incredible Picnic in the Owyhee

Author: Joanna Zhang  |  Published: June 24, 2021  |  Category: Where-to Take your outdoor dining experience to the next level with one of these scenic picnic spots in the Owyhee Canyonlands. Here are six places to have the best meal with a view in the Owyhee, complete with local restaurant recommendations. Whether you’re looking...

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My Desert Adventure:
Bikepacking in the Owyhee

Author: Ben Groeneveld & Kevin Briggs  |  Published: April 16, 2021  |  Category: Where-To; Profile  “Where’s all your food?” the concerned sheriff asked, as he examined my packed bike near the North Fork. When you see a touring bike in the remote Owhyees, you will stop for a chat. A driver engaging a cyclist...

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Where-To:
Seeking Spring in Central Oregon

Spring is fast approaching in the high desert. As the daylight hours grow longer, signs of the shifting season can be seen popping up across the region. The desert will soon be met with a succession of wildflower blooms, starting with tiny yellow goldfields in March, white-petaled sand lilies in April and pale pink...

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Sutton Mountain Dazzles,
Inspires in Equal Measure

Author: Matt Wastradowski  | Published: August 20, 2020  |  Categories: Where-to; In the News The Painted Hills Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument sees roughly 200,000 visitors per year, almost all of them dazzled by the brightly colored hillsides, arid landscapes, and explosive ecological history of the John Day River Basin....

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We Challenged, You Hiked

ONDA’s Badlands Challenge prompted discovery, exploration, and a lot of math In celebration of the tenth anniversary of Oregon Badlands Wilderness designation, ONDA hosted a six-month-long exploration challenge. After ONDA volunteers helped to build trail segments that created critical connections into the larger Oregon Badlands trail system, we realized the 30,000-acre wilderness area now...

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Get to Know the Owyhee River

One of Oregon’s 58 officially designated Wild and Scenic Rivers. Located in southeastern Oregon and reaching across the corner of Idaho to its headwaters in northeastern Nevada, 35 percent of the Owyhee River within Oregon has been classified as “Wild and Scenic” for its recreational, wildlife, geologic and cultural values. Cutting through benches of...

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Autumn – The Best Time to Visit Oregon’s Desert?

Spring, summer and winter are all strong contenders, but there’s mounting evidence that autumn could be the very best season to visit Oregon’s high desert. Consider … Temperature – Daytime highs are in the 70s, not the dripping-brow 90s and nighttime lows are in the lovely-for- sleeping 30s, not the teens. Color – Yes,...

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