After months of staying at home, we were ready for some away-from-home social distancing. Oregon is a big state, and there are lots of places with very few people, which is what we were looking for. With that in mind, the kids and I packed two weeks worth of food and set out on a 1,200 mile road trip. Along the way I captured images of an Oregon outsiders might not find so familiar.
We began with a tour of the Oregon Outback / Christmas Valley region. First stop was Hole-in-the-Ground:
From there we crossed over the high desert to Fort Rock, seen in the center of this photo:
Fort Rock up close:
We made camp southeast of Fort Rock on Green Mountain and then visited Crack-in-the-Ground for a quick hike:
Christmas Valley at dusk:
The next day we traveled further southeast to Warner Vally. Hart Mountain rises up to the east:
Warner Valley contains the Warner Lakes chain of lakes and wetlands:
On top of Hart Mountain is the National Antelope refugee, with this shade-free campsite:
The mosquitoes were intense that night. The refuge is vast with panoramas like this:
We then crossed east to the Steens via the backroad highway:
We spent some time at the Steens, first at the Page Spring campground:
Which is on the Donner und Blitzen River:
Then at the Fish Lake campground:
It was stocked with rainbow trout; my son of course caught a trophy trout with the first cast (no picture because I was trying to get it back in the water ASAP). The Steens Loop road was still closed, so we trekked the 9 miles round trip in the blazing sun to Kiger Gorge:
Most people just drive right up to the Gorge. As least the lake was refreshing at the end of the day:
We circled the Steens first south then east to the Alvord Desert:
It’s kind of a thing to drive across the desert:
The east side of the Steens from the east side of the desert:
My original plan had been to camp in the desert and head further into the southeast part of the state, but it was in the mid-90s with no shade and the kids rejected this kind of campsite:
So we headed north, first to Mann Lake:
It’s attraction, according to the Bureau of Land Management:
Lake attracts anglers as much for its remote, rugged splendor as for its abundant Lahontan cutthroat trout. These trout are supremely adapted to survive alkaline desert waters and without them fisheries like Mann Lake could not exist. The lake was named for an early rancher and has satisfied fishers for over forty years. Anglers converge as early as March and into October. Shallow throughout its 200 acres, the lake features extensive weed beds and great shorelines for wading.
Unfortunately, the lake has suffered from some dry years and there were no anglers as far as the eye could see. Nor was there anyone else. Another rejected camping site.
The kids at that point rejected the desert entirely and asked for something more like classic Oregon. I relented and headed north for the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness. We spent a few nights in the area exploring Strawberry Lake:
and fishing for brook trout:
The region is not volcanic in nature like the Cascades and feels to me like the Olympic Mountains in Washington state. Eventually, it was time to head home with a quick tour of the John Day Fossil Beds area:
Overall, a successful trip. We almost made it without going into a store but I had to relent midway through for some milk and beer. I hope this photo tour introduced you to some new parts of Oregon!