Recreation Resources

Jim Davis   Website

Last updated: September 7, 2021

Conditions on the ground in Oregon’s high desert can change rapidly and recreational facilities can become partially or fully closed due to any number of circumstances, including snowfall, wildfire — or a pandemic, as 2020 brought to light. It’s always best practice to check land management agency websites for current conditions before you head out on a desert adventure.

FIRE: Always be mindful of fire bans, which include bans on campfires.

The following fire restrictions are in effect:

  • Campfires prohibited on many public lands including all lands east of I-5. That includes within designated campgrounds.
  • Only liquid-fueled camp stoves may be used. No charcoal briquettes or other flammable solid materials are allowed.
  • No smoking except inside an enclosed vehicle.
  • Off-road driving is also prohibited in most areas, which includes motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles. Driving on vegetation could spark a fire.
  • Vehicles must have either a gallon of water or a fully charged and operational 2½-pound fire extinguisher and shovel (except when travelling on state highways or county roads).
  • ATVs must have a charged and operational 2½ pound fire extinguisher.
  • Additional restrictions may be in effect. You can use this statewide map of fire restrictions to zoom in on your destination and check restrictions before you head out. If you are headed to BLM land, look up the restrictions by district.

You can check for active wildfires and area closures from the following sources:

Section 7 of the Oregon Desert Trail along the Fremont National Recreation Trail is closed due to the Cougar Peak Fire (9/9/21).

COVID-19: The spread of COVID-19 created the widespread closure of public lands and recreational facilities. Areas have largely reopened, but some closures or restrictions may still be in effect. The list of links below covers land management agencies in Oregon’s high desert.

Effective August 2021, masks are required indoors and in public outdoor settings where physical distancing is not possible. Be prepared to mask up in high-use outdoor areas, such as trailheads and viewpoints, and in all indoor facilities.


Julie Weikel on Wilderness

Julie Weikel on Wilderness


Sage Steppes

Sage Steppes




Found only in North America, where it is the most common wildcat, the bobcat takes its common name from its stubby, or “bobbed,” tail. The cats range in length from two to four feet and weigh 14 to 29 pounds. Bobcats mainly hunt rabbits and hares, but they will also eat rodents, birds, bats, and even adult deer.

Latin name: Lynx rufus fasciatus


Federal Lands

Bureau of Land Management
COVID-19 Reopening Summary

Many campgrounds, restrooms and day-use facilities (i.e. locations with picnic areas and/or restrooms) are reopened. Some BLM District and Field Offices have restored access with limited in-person services.

Contact districts for specific information.

National Forests
COVID-19 Reopening Summary

Most developed sites in Region 6 have reopened, including many campgrounds.

Check interactive map and recreation reports for specific site information and contact district offices for detailed information.


COVID-19 Reopening Summary

Camp Hart Mountain and Hot Springs Campgrounds are open. Refuge lands are open.

Malheur Refuge visitor’s center and museum are closed. The nature store operated by Friends of Malheur Refuge is open. Refuge lands, trails, and bathrooms are open.

COVID-19 Reopening Summary

John Day Fossil Beds:

The Thomas Condon Paleontology and Visitor Center and outdoor spaces of the three units of the park: Sheep Rock, Painted Hills, and Clarno are open.

Newberry Volcanic:

Lava Lands Visitor Center and Paulina Visitor Center are open. The Lava River Cave is closed for the season.

Tribal Lands

Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs
COVID -19 Closure Summary

Conservation Lands are open for day use. Please fill out a daily access permit either online or at information kiosks at each property. Camping at Pine Creek Conservation Area remains closed due to COVID-19 concerns.

State Lands

COVID-19 Reopening Summary

Most parks are now open to day use, check the interactive map for use restrictions and contact parks directly. Many campgrounds have opened as well, although services may be reduced, check the interactive map for details. Some cabins, yurts, hiker/biker sites, and group facilities remain closed.

COVID-19 Reopening Summary

ODFW Wildlife Areas are open for day use and camping (where allowed). Hatcheries are partially reopened, most indoor facilities at hatcheries are still closed. Hunting and fishing in Oregon is open to nonresidents.


Reopening Summary

All launches, take-outs, dispersed and designated campgrounds for the Lower Deschutes River are open. Boater passes are required.

John Day River
Reopening Summary

All launches and take-outs are open. Permits are required.

Reopening Summary

Ramp at BLM Spring Recreation site is open. Ramps in Hells Canyon National Recreation Area are open.

Lower Owyhee River
Reopening Summary

Boat ramps are open. Check river levels before you go.