Natural History Road Trip
On this tour, be prepared to camp or stay in more rustic lodgings. Apart from the price of gas, this is a pretty low-cost tour. If you are serious about watching wildlife, recognize that sitting and waiting is the key element to successful viewing, and plan to spend more than a day at each location.
From Bend, it’s roughly 130 miles along Route 20 to Burns. Head to the big lakes and irrigation canals south of Burns at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. Here you’ll find a wide variety of migratory birds, especially waterfowl. If you have time, spend a day driving up Steens Mountain, where wild mustangs live in the Kiger Gorge. Even if the horses elude you, you’re sure to see raptors. Camp at Page Springs or stay in a trailer at the Malheur Field Station.
From the town of Frenchglen near the refuge’s southern border, head west across the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, known for its pronghorn. Camp at the refuge campground (and soak in the adjacent hot springs) or spend the night in Lakeview at Hunter’s Hot Springs motel.
From Lakeview, head west across Route 140 to Klamath Falls, with birding on Klamath Lake. From Klamath Falls, take U.S. 97 north to Diamond Lake and stay at a campground or in a cabin at Diamond Lake Resort. If by now your credit card is burning a hole in your pocket, air it out by staying at the Steamboat Inn, west of Diamond Lake along the North Umpqua River.
From Diamond Lake, go west on Route 138 along the North Umpqua River for an immersion in west-side forests and fish. From the I-5 town of Roseburg, continue west to Reedsport to see the Oregon Dunes. Camp at the dunes and explore the unique ecosystem.
Finally, head north to Sea Lion Caves and the tide pools of Cape Perpetua. There’s a campground at Cape Perpetua and the reasonably priced beachfront Yachats Inn in Yachats. Cape Perpetua’s streams are surrounded by protected coastal old-growth forest.
by Judy Jewell and W. C. McRae from Moon Oregon, 8th Edition, © Elizabeth & Mark Morris and Avalon Travel