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Oregon Badlands Wilderness
The Oregon Badlands Wilderness holds a number of remarkable and exciting landforms and geologic features. Most of the area includes the rugged Badlands volcano, which has features of inflated lava. Windblown volcanic ash and eroded lava make up the sandy, light-colored soil that covers the low and flat places in … read more
The Oregon Badlands Wilderness holds a number of remarkable and exciting landforms and geologic features. Most of the area includes the rugged Badlands volcano, which has features of inflated lava. Windblown volcanic ash and eroded lava make up the sandy, light-colored soil that covers the low and flat places in these fields of lava. Dry River, active during each of several ice ages, marks the southeast boundary between two volcanic areas—Badlands volcano and the Horse Ridge volcanoes. Earth movements along the Brothers Fault Zone have faulted and sliced up the old Horse Ridge volcanoes, but not Badlands volcano. The Badlands formed in an unusual way. The flow that supplied lava to the Badlands apparently developed a hole in the roof of its main lava tube. This hole became the source of lava that built a shield volcano that we call the Badlands (technically, a rootless shield volcano). An irregularly-shaped pit crater at the top of the shield marks the site where lava flowed in all directions to create the Badlands.
A variety of wildlife species inhabit the area including yellow-bellied marmots, bobcat, mule deer, elk, and antelope. The southern portion of the Badlands Wilderness includes crucial winter range for mule deer. Avian species include prairie falcons and golden eagles.
You can also explore cracked volcanic pressure ridges, called tumuli, or walk narrow moat-like cracks in the ground. Traces of human history are visible to the careful observer. At 29,000 acres, the Oregon Badlands Wilderness represents an outstanding example of ancient western juniper woodlands atop Columbia River Basalts.
The best way to explore the Oregon Badlands is by foot (and because of it’s Wilderness status, no bikes or motorized vehicles are allowed). With almost 50 miles of trails, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to explore this wide open high desert landscape. There are three main trail heads, Flatiron Rock, Badlands Rock, and Tumulus. The most popular and easiest access from Bend is Flatiron Rock, located 16 miles east of Bend off Highway 20. From here there are several loops you can take of varying distances. Wintertime tends to see less snow out here, so for those who don’t need as much of the white stuff, this can be a nice desert escape. Be sure to check conditions first and bundle up. In the summer it gets hot out here! So take lots of water, snacks, and sunscreen.
As a designated wilderness, the Oregon Badlands Wilderness enjoys the highest level of permanent protection!