I’ve been back for a little while now, and you’ may be tired of hearing about it, but I’m already planning my next trip to Harney County and I wanted to make some notes for next time. I had so much fun in the places I went, that I didn’t even make it to parts of the county I planned on visiting, like the Alvord Desert, and a large section of the Wildlife Refuge. It was still to early in the year to make it to the higher reaches of Steens Mountain, too, so I think my next trip should be in the fall.
Spring was a great time to visit, and I think a future September would be a great time to go back. It would let me get higher in elevation, and it would spare me the worst of the summer heat. (I don’t think I’m cut out for really enjoying summer in the desert.) Apparently, fall is also another prime time for bird migrations, and people had good things to say about the foliage, as well. I passed through many aspen groves while hiking, and I can just imagine them golden and glowing in the fall.
I’d be interested in going back to Willow Creek Hot Springs and using it for a basecamp for a day or two of wandering by foot in the surrounding area of open country with low buttes scattered around. I’d also be interested in taking one of the classes they offer at the Malheur Field Station. If I feel like not camping for a few nights, I might stay there, or at a cool old-fashioned hotel like the Frenchglen Hotel or the Diamond Inn, both of which I stopped at for tasty lunches on this trip. Or it sounds like there are working ranches in the area that will put guests up, as well, which could be fun.
And all that’s just in Harney County! It seems like there’s lots of good stuff nearby, too. I heard great things about the Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge, which has a campground with a hot spring on top of a mountain, and it sounds like there’s interesting country West of there, too. (I’ve only passed through Southern Oregon on I-5, for the most part, so that’s an area I really want to see.) I also met several people who had come through the areas to the East, and had great things to say about Leslie Gulch and the Owyhee Canyon Country, and particularly Succor Creek. Maybe next year!