Visitor’s Guide to the Greater Hart-Sheldon Region
Where to Stay
In the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, four free primitive campgrounds are managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. All are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Drinking water is only available at the Refuge Headquarters and Camp Hart Mountain; pit toilets are available at all campgrounds. Campfires are allowed only in designated fire rings at Hot Springs Campground and Camp Hart Mountain Campground, but bring your own firewood since it is not available to purchase and collecting is not allowed.
Hot Springs Campground
4 miles south of Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge headquarters
As the name implies, you’ll find a developed public hot springs for soaking here. There are 29 campsites; the springs holds six adults at a time. Season: year-round, although winter snows periodically close the campground road.
Guano Creek Campground
Follow Blue Sky rd south from the refuge headquarters for a little over 13 miles. Cross Guano Creek and keep right to stay on Barnhardi rd, campground is shortly after the gate.
A high-clearance vehicle is recommended to access the 11 sites found in this campground, which is open only during hunting season to accommodate extra campers.
Season: August 1 to November 1
Camp Hart Mountain Campground
Approximately 15 miles from Plush on the Hart Mountain Road
This campground sits right at the base of Hart Mountain; drinking water and picnic tables are available.
Post Meadows Campground
Follow Blue Sky rd south from the refuge headquarters for about 14 miles.
This campground has a corral available for horses. Pellets or certified weed-free hay is required.
Season: Dependent upon road access.
If you’d like a more backcountry adventure, backpacking is also an option. Permits are available at refuge headquarters or online. Visit the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s website for current conditions, maps, and other useful information.
Camping is also allowed on the Bureau of Land Management lands in this region, but no developed campgrounds exist. For car camping, you can find plenty of open, remote spots along the dirt roads but you need to be self-sufficient and follow Leave No Trace principles. Backpacking is also an option on BLM land and no permit is required, but finding drinking water can be challenging. See our Oregon Desert Trail page for additional route ideas and information.
Lakeview is the largest town in the area and has a number of small inns and chain hotels. Visit this Lake County page for a list of several lodging options in the region.
Hart Mountain Cabin
Located 1/4 mile from the center of Plush
This is the closest lodging near the refuge with a full bath and kitchen. It also has an unobstructed view of the Warner Valley and Hart Mountain.
Call (541) 947-3322 for details.
Back of Beyond Cabins
Located in the Warner Mountains 15 miles northeast of Lakeview, 1.5 miles off Highway 140
Two cabins available for rent, both with kitchens and one with a bathroom. They offer a discount for current ONDA members.
Call (541) 947-5528 for reservations.
Where to Eat
Lakeview is your jumping off point for the region. This is the largest town in the region and you’ll find numerous restaurants here, as well as a Safeway grocery store. You’ll only find a few more options for refreshment after you leave Lakeview.
The hamlets of Plush and Adel offer combination store / gas / cafe / taverns for basic amenities, burgers and gas as you head out to explore the region. It’s wise to call ahead, as these joints aren’t open 24-7.
Hart Mountain General Store, 28229 Hogback Road, Plush, OR (541) 947-2491
Adel Store and Tavern, 18586 Highway 140 E, Adel, OR (541) 947-3851
Watch Waterfowl in the Warner Wetlands
These wetlands at the base of Hart Mountain were designated as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) for their unique wildlife, ecological, cultural and geological values. The lakes provide great habitat for migrating waterfowl and give visitors an opportunity for world-class wildlife viewing. When the lakes are full, a canoe trail weaves between the many pothole lakes.
Trek up to Abert Rim and Lake
Due west of the Warner Valley is Abert Lake, a shallow alkali lake that provides important food sources for migrating waterfowl and is Oregon’s only saltwater lake. Towering nearly 2,500 feet above the lake is Abert Rim, one of the highest fault scarps in the United States. Encompassing both a Wilderness Study Area (WSA) and an Area of Environmental Concern (ACEC), the lake and rim allow visitors a chance to explore an area rich in cultural and wildlife values.
Visit Thousand Creek Gorge
Big enough for a helicopter to fly through, this amazing gorge in Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge stretches for five miles through the earth’s crust. This geologic feature shows off the sheer power of water and beckons the off-the-beaten-track traveler to explore its hidden secrets.
Soak in a Hot Spring
Two hot springs are located at the Hot Springs Campground on the eastern flank of Hart Mountain. Soakers can choose between the protected comfort of a 6-foot deep pool surrounded by wind blocking stone walls and a primitive pool hidden off a closed road on the backside of the parking area.
The best documented and easiest to access petroglyphs in the Greater Hart-Sheldon Region are located at Petroglyph Lake at Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge. The lake can be reached by a high clearance vehicle when the roads are dry. Scattered along the 1,500 feet of low basalt cliffs surrounding the lake are over 65 panels of rock art. Treat the area with the utmost respect and research petroglyphs online before you go to enhance your knowledge. Check in at the refuge headquarters for more information.
Visit a Historic Ranch
The Shirk Ranch, located in the Guano Valley, was operated by David L. Shirk up until the early 1900s. The property was acquired by the federal government in the 1940s and later registered on the National Register of Historic Places. The main ranch house, blacksmith shop, a bunkhouse and water tower remain today in addition to several other structures in varying states of decay.