The southeast Oregon high desert, encompassing the Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuge, offers some of the most spectacular scenery in Oregon. First, it's an ancient land that, according to archaeologists, has supported man for nearly 15,000 years. Second, the landscape supports a rich and diverse habitat for hundreds of wildlife species – most notably pronghorn antelope, mule deer, the iconic sage grouse, and dozens of species of songbirds. There are warm springs to enjoy, pictographs to view, hikes to take, and unparalleled photo opportunities.
From Bend, it's a comfortable two and a half hour drive starting south on Highway 97. South of La Pine, turn left on Highway 31 past Fort Rock, Silver Lake, and Paisley. A coffee break or food stop at Paisley is well worth some extra time. North of Lakeview you will turn left at a junction that leads to Plush and Hart Mountain. Watch closely for signs. From Plush, a few more miles will take you to the refuge headquarters where there is an information center with maps and ideas for your visit. The refuge is managed by Jeff Mackay who is an encyclopedia of great information on what the sage steppe has to offer. He can also direct you to campgrounds, wildlife viewing areas, and trailheads. Lakeview is nearby and offers several options for overnight stays.
You might want to become vicariously acquainted with the area by attending one of the Oregon Natural Desert Association's Speaker Series at 7 pm on Jan. 19 at the Old Stone Church in downtown Bend. ONDA will be hosting an event honoring the "Sage Brush Sisters" and show a short documentary of their hike last summer from the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge on the northern Nevada border to the Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. Following the historic pronghorn antelope migration route, Alice Elshoff, Julie Weikel and Helen Harbin completed the 53-mile hike between the two refuges last June.
The Old Stone Church is located at 157 NW Franklin. Doors open at 6:30 pm for this free event, and pre-registration is strongly encouraged because of limited seating space. More information can be found online. Visit this link: https://onda.org/get-involved/high-desert-lecture-series.