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Oregon Badlands Wilderness

This guide to the Oregon Badlands Wilderness features driving directions to trailheads, information about hiking in the Badlands and landmarks such as Flatiron Rock.
Closest townBend
Flatiron Rock
Exploring Flatiron Rock.
Photo: Greg Burke
Driving distance 16 miles
Best time to visit September-June
Recommended hike Flatiron Rock
Hike distance 5 miles round trip
Hike difficulty* 2

Driving Directions from Bend: Head east on Highway 20.  At Milepost 16, turn left at the Flatiron Rock Trailhead (turn-off is signed).  Once at the trailhead, you may pick up a trail map from the kiosk.

Trailhead amenities: None.  There are no bathrooms or water available at the trailhead, or anywhere within the Oregon Badlands Wilderness.  Come prepared with plenty of drinking water and supplies to pack out all waste.

The Hike: 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 up with the Flatiron Rock trail after about a 2 miles. Once you reach Flatiron Rock and spend some time scrambling to the top to explore and enjoy view of the Cascade Mountains, you can return the way you came, or continue on to Castle Rock and Badlands Rock on the Castle Trail.

Whichever route you choose, the Badlands offers solitude and endless opportunities for exploration, right in Bend's backyard. Click here to download a trail map of the Oregon Badlands Wilderness.

Activities allowed in Wilderness areas: Non-mechanized recreational activities are allowed in the Oregon Badlands, such as hiking, in-season hunting, horseback riding, bird watching, trail running and rock climbing.  For more information about which activities are permitted, please see our page about enjoying Wilderness areas.

Take only photographs, leave only footprints!

Wilderness areas are some of the most prized lands in our country.  When visiting wild areas, it is imperative that you follow the following "Leave No Trace" principles:

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare – Know the rules of the area you’re visiting. Research current conditions and weather in the area and always travel prepared for emergencies or inclement weather.
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces – Minimize your impact by sticking to established trails and campsites or durable surfaces such as rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.  Avoid walking off trail through sensitive riparian areas or on steep slopes. Make your camp at least 200 feet from creeks, lakes and rivers, and leave your site as you found it.
  • Respect Wildlife – Observe wildlife from a distance to allow them peace in their natural environment. Do not follow or approach them and never feed wild animals.
  • Dispose of Waste Properly – Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Always pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
  • Leave What You Find – Leave rocks, plants, animals and historical artifacts as you find them. Examine, but do not touch, cultural or historical artifacts such as structures and rock art.
  • Minimize Campfire Impacts – Know the current regulations on campfires for the area and follow the rules. When fires are allowed keep them small and in control at all times. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand. Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors – Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience by being courteous and yielding to other visitors on the trail. Let nature’s sounds prevail by avoiding loud voices and noises. Avoid cliffs and steep areas and be conscious of hikers below you on the trail who may be hurt by any debris that you knock loose.


* Hike difficulty ratings:

1= Like a walk in your local city park.  Trail surface is generally flat and level.

2= Trail is generally flat, with some rocky terrain and slight elevation gain.

3= Trail may include rocky or loose terrain, with steep sections and moderate elevation gain.

4= Trail is steep and rocky, with elevation gain of more than 1000 ft.  May feature rock scrambles or other challenging features. Trekking poles recommended.

5= Off-trail travel.  Terrain is variable and potentially steep.  Good map and compass navigation, backcountry travel skills a must.

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Oregon Natural Desert Association
50 SW Bond Street, Suite 4,
Bend, OR 97702
Tel: (541) 330-2638

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