My trip plans were turned upside down with an early winter cold front coming through eastern Oregon. Low clouds and three days of rain in the valleys and snow at the top of the Steens. I saw a pickup truck with globs of mud everywhere, a warning to not travel on dirt (now muddy) roads. My planned backroad travels had to be canceled. Unsure of what to do; with choices of staying at the Page Spring Campground or traveling north, south, east or west; I went to eat breakfast at the Frenchglen Hotel. Not surprisingly the restaurant was full of people just like me, mulling over what to do. Swapping stories about where we had been, one couple sang the praise of the Owyhee River and the Lake Owyhee State Park campground. With paved roads the entire way, that was where I chose to go next and I was glad I did.Continue reading
I was excited to see the Steens, a fault-block mountain of the basin and range geology, not like the volcanoes of the Cascade Mountains by my home. I had driven from the Hart Mountain Antelope Reserve and when I reached the valley rim above Frenchglen the Steens looked like a huge gentle giant of a hill that just kept going skyward. There was no clue that the backside abruptly drops to the Alvord valley.
I was headed to the BLM Page Springs campground; a campground that my boondocking brother had recommended. It must be nice if he recommended it. It was centrally located for exploring the vast area with a nice amount of space between each campsites. I found the campground a happy place with a comfy camp site that I settled into for a three night stay.
During my trip planning I happened upon finding a campground at the northwest base of Hart Mountain and in the Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge. The campground wasn’t on most maps and my brother who had been to the area a number of times told me it didn’t exist. But, it showed up on google aerial maps and it would be a convenient location because I wanted to visit the BLM sunstone collection area to the north. I was off to find out the truth and I found that the campground did exist. I don’t remember the name, but it had about 10 sites offering a wide open view. There were no trees, just wide open expansive view.
I had heard that camping was allowed in this wildlife refuge. Since I was going to be in the area; south of Bend, Oregon, I put it on my itinerary. Yes, there were picnic tables and pit toilets (no water) like a camping site, but the place had a boondocking feeling. There are no defined camping sites, you just set up in one of three designated areas and make it your home. It couldn’t have been better. The two nights I stayed there I was the only one camping in the refuge. It was a treat to step out of my trailer in the morning and walk through the refuge viewing the birds with a cup of coffee in my hand.
East of Bend, Oregon is an observatory that is open to the public in the summer on Friday and Saturday nights. What is especially nice about this observatory is that you can camp across the road and simply stroll to the observatory when it gets dark. Volunteers are there explaining the constellations and aim the telescope at interesting items all in a friendly informal way that pleases.