Getting Desert Desperate

Mark Darnell

Five Ideas Admittedly Not as Good as Being in the Desert 

Standing in the middle of a vast sagebrush plain, kicking over lichen-crusted rocks, with nothing more to do than let the sun kiss you and the real wind whip through your hair. That is a magnificent feeling. 

The joy to be found walking around your block for the dozenth or hundredth time, contemplating your economic situation, worrying about your vulnerable loved ones, worrying about climate change, figuring out home-schooling while remote working? Not so much. We know. We know.  

Thank you for pulling together as a community to focus on keeping people safe and healthy right now!

Here, we offer up a handful of ideas and a few gems from our archives that will help you come out of this pandemic an even more committed advocate for the desert lands and waters you cherish. And, maybe, Just maybe, these ideas will help soothe your desert longing until it’s safe and advisable to travel, too. 


Cottonwood Canyon Riparian Soundscape

Cottonwood Canyon Riparian Soundscape


Julie Weikel on Wilderness

Julie Weikel on Wilderness




The Oregon Swallowtail butterfly is the official state insect of Oregon and a true native of the Pacific Northwest. The Swallowtail can be seen in the lower sagebrush canyons of the Columbia River and its tributaries, including the Snake River drainage area.  Source: State Symbols USA

Latin name: Papilio oregonius

1) Submit Your Best Desert Photos

ONDA is now accepting photographs for consideration for our Wild Desert Calendar. This member-driven publication gets better each year, and we’re looking forward to seeing what incredible high desert images you have to share with us! Sift through your digital photo albums, relive the joys, and send your ten best images our way by June 10.

Submit Now
Oregon Desert Trail Guidebook cover

2) Read Our Oregon Desert Trail Guidebook

Planning for an extended journey through the high desert takes time and focus. If you’ve got those two things, then you’ll enjoy sinking into ONDA’s 113-page Oregon Desert Trail Guidebook, which has all the maps and public lands management information you need to plan an adventurous route through Oregon's high desert.

Download Now
Next level option:

Plan your own off-trail desert route.

Pro tip: Get a premium subscription to Gaia GPS so you can see private land layers, and plan away!

3) Make Desert-Inspired Arts and Crafts

Perhaps you'd like to paint a landscape based on a Wild Desert Calendar image? Press desert wildflowers to make bookmarks? Use your old calendar to make cool envelopes? Follow the link below to see ONDA’s one, and maybe only, attempt at a DIY upcycling project! We'd love to see your pandemic-induced creativity. Email or tag us on Instagram at @theoregondesert.

Make Cool Envelopes
hiker walking across the sagebrush steppe in

4) Watch A Desert Adventure Film

Need something a little different than Tiger King? Check out "Sagebrush Sisters" to see if three women in their 60s, 70s, and 80s can hike from the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in Nevada to Hart Mountain in Oregon. You can also look for "Sage Steppes" and "The Last Darkness."

Watch Sagebrush Sisters
Next level option:

Binge-watch trail videos, or make a short film from your own desert video footage! For oh-so-many on the trail videos, follow the Oregon Desert Trail Facebook page, where we are posting an ODT video every day until we run out of episodes, or the shelter in place advisories lift, whichever comes first.

5) Become a Better Desert Advocate

ONDA launched a digital High Desert Academy events in April. We've already taken people through some of the desert's most incredible landscapes and given people practical desert recreation advice. Next up: a set of three How-To talks that will help you build your knowledge and skills base to be an even stronger desert advocate.

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Next level option:

In the How To Protect Desert Rivers webinar, you’ll learn that writing a letter to the editor is a fairly straightforward way to garner attention for the public lands issues that matter most to you. Check out our tips, grab your keyboard, and write away.