Where-To:
Seeking Spring in Central Oregon

James Parsons

success

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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fact

Young Horny Toad Lizard

Young Horny Toad Lizard

In the summer these lizards begin foraging for food as soon as their body temperature rises as the heat of the day increases. They feed on slow-moving, ground-dwelling insects. In the fall they hibernate by burying themselves in the sand.

Latin name: Phrysonoma platyrhinos

listen

South Fork Crooked River and Birds

South Fork Crooked River and Birds

Alder Springs Trail, Lower Whychus Creek

Please note that the road to Alder Springs is seasonally closed. It will be closed through March 31, 2021.

The rugged canyons and rushing whitewater of the proposed Whychus-Deschutes wilderness offer spectacular vistas and wildlife-viewing opportunities year-round, but spring is a particularly lively time to visit this area. Snowmelt from nearby volcanoes rushes to the confluence of Whychus Creek and the Middle Deschutes River, a uniquely seasonal sound to accompany you as you hike, fish and bird-watch in this remarkably wild area.

Greg Burke   Website

Alder Springs

Located on Lower Whychus Creek, Alder Springs is an oasis in the high desert. The trail starts at the top of the Whychus Creek Canyon, where you’ll enjoy wide open panoramic views of the Cascades, towering rock formations, and the rushing waters of Whychus Creek below and descends gradually through grasses and rabbitbrush to...

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Scout Camp Trail, Middle Deschutes River

Along with the snow-swelled rapids of the Middle Deschutes River, a springtime hike along the Scout Camp loop trail will offer opportunities to see perennial wildflowers start to bloom and western juniper “green up” as chlorophyll is sent back to leaves after retreating during winter. Birds and other wildlife have relied on Western juniper berries throughout the winter and this tree continues to be a key food source in early spring. As always, the striking canyon geology and spectacular views of the confluence of Whychus Creek and the Deschutes River are not to be missed.

Frank Israel

Scout Camp Trail

The Scout Camp loop trail on the Middle Deschutes River is one of the most spectacular hikes you’ll find in Central Oregon. About a third of a mile from the trailhead, the trail descends steeply into the Deschutes River Canyon. On the way down, enjoy the fascinating geology of the canyon walls and views...

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Flatiron Rock Trail, Oregon Badlands Wilderness

In the coming months, a hike on the Flatiron Rock trail in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness will offer stunning views of wildflowers covering the ground among lava formations, ancient juniper and beautiful views of the Cascades. Sagebrush buttercup leads the way as one of the earliest wildflowers to bloom in the area. Hedgehog cactus, Oregon sunshine and bitterroot will come into bloom by mid-April, lending a new color palette to 10,000 acres of desert wildlands forever protected as wilderness. And with wildflowers come pollinators. Native bees and bumblebees begin hatching and working these blooms as the days get warmer. You may even see pictographs as you venture through the area, as it is the ancestral land of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and Northern Paiute. These fragile and important cultural artifacts are to be admired, but not touched.

Feeling up for a challenge? Hike, bike or horseback ride all 50+ miles of trails in the Oregon Badlands Wilderness at your own pace as part of our Badlands Challenge.

Mike Stahlberg

Flatiron Rock

The Flatiron Rock trail offers a wonderful introduction to the Badlands, winding through inflated lava and old-growth juniper woodlands for about 2.5 miles to one of the most prominent rock formations in the Badlands. From the trailhead, hikers have the option of taking the Ancient Juniper trail, a short and pleasant route that links...

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These suggested hikes and the surrounding Central Oregon Backcountry are located on lands traditionally and presently inhabited by members of the Wasco, Warm Springs, Paiute, Bannock and Shoshone tribes.

 

Restaurants, Lodging and More

To add to your day outside, check out the VisitBend website for a comprehensive directory of all the hotels, camping, and other lodging options in Bend, along with all your options for dining and other activities while in the area. Just be sure to keep your mask on and keep your visit COVID-safe.

Visit Bend

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

By Matt Wastradowski 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. But just east of the Painted Hills sits Sutton Mountain, rising...

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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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How To: Raft the Lower Owyhee

Author: Corinne Handelman  |  Published: May 14, 2019  |  Category: How-To Tips to plan your desert rafting trip Rafting the lower Owyhee River is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that introduces you to some of the most spectacular and untouched high desert landscapes found in eastern Oregon. Deep canyon walls, riverside camps, and hikes climbing to...

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Where To: Hart Mountain

Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge lies at the center of the Greater Hart-Sheldon Region in southeastern Oregon. Few established trails cross this vast region. Instead, desert enthusiasts have endless opportunities to build their own adventure and experience the solitude of Oregon’s high desert. Here are six tips that will help you make the most...

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Hart Mountain Revealed Recap

During our 2019 High Desert Speaker Series, ONDA’s Hart-Sheldon Coordinator Jeremy Austin presented in both Bend and Portland. Here’s the “CliffsNotes” version of his for Hart Mountain Revealed talk. Where is Hart Mountain? Roughly 230 miles southeast of Bend, Oregon, Hart Mountain sits at the northern extent of the largest desert in the United...

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Dark Desert Skies

For those of us who have spent time in Oregon’s high desert, there is no need to explain how truly dark skies showcase the wonders of the stars viewable by the naked eye. Night skies relatively free from light pollution — that is, human-created artificial lighting and atmospheric disturbances such as smog — will...

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Best Bets for Fall

As the days cool down and our thoughts turn to cozy campfires and the first few flakes of snow, Oregon Desert Trail Coordinator Renee Patrick has rounded up a few best bets for experiencing Oregon’s high desert in fall 2018. Remember, Oregon’s high desert is a dynamic place, so, as always, check current conditions...

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