High Desert oases offer peaceful retreats for wildlife and human visitors.
Lake County Oases
Summer Lake lies at the base of Winter Ridge in Lake County, Oregon. When water levels are high, this alkaline lake measures 15 miles long and 5 miles wide. Explorer, Captain John C. Fremont, named the lake and ridge. Here is how he described them:
At our feet…more than a thousand feet below…we looked into a green prairie country, in which a beautiful lake, some twenty miles in length, was spread along the foot of the mountain…Shivering on snow three feet deep, and stiffening in a cold north wind, we exclaimed at once that the names of summer lake and winter ridge should be applied to these proximate places of such sudden and violent contrast.John C. Fremont, 16 December 1843, Report, Second Expedition
Lake Abert, in Lake County, is Oregon’s only saline lake. The lake can host over 50,000 birds a day. Wilson’s Phalaropes and Snowy Plover feed on the brine shrimp and alkali flies that only live in saline lakes. Like the Great Salt Lake, water levels have dropped dramatically in recent years.
Warner Pond is a secluded natural lake at Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge in Lake County. They stock this small, hidden gem with rainbow trout. You can fish from the dock or in a non-motorized boat. Camping is available at nearby Camp Hart Mountain or about a half hour away at Hart Mountain Hot Springs Campground, another oasis.
A Crook County Oases
Prineville Reservoir, in Crook County, was created by damming the Crooked River in 1961. The 12-mile long lake provides water for irrigation, flood control, and wildlife management. It’s a great place to fish and camp–when there’s enough water. Though we’ve had good snowpack so far this year, the reservoir in March 2023 is only 13% full.
A Deschutes County Oases
High Desert oases come in many forms. The Hatfield Ponds, near Bend, hosts the highest diversity of bird species in Deschutes County. The city uses the ponds for secondary sewage treatment. Like the other spots featured in this post, birds are drawn to the water in the desert landscape. In fact, eBird birders have seen 256 species at the Hatfield Ponds. Visitors can walk the trails around the ponds while taking in spectacular views of the nearby Cascade volcanoes.
22 thoughts on “High Desert Oases in Oregon: LAPC”
such beautiful areas in your part of the world Siobhan. We spent a few weeks in Bend one summer and it was really special. We have friends out there who showed us some of the highlights and of course we had to raft on the Deschutes which was great fun! Beautiful images. Imagine all those birds en masse – must be spectacular!
Thanks, Tina! As you know, it’s a special part of the world. Yes, when the shorebirds fly all at once, it’s like a living fireworks display.
Truly inviting places to explore in the high desert region of Oregon. There is peace on the water or in the surrounding areas with quiet and chances to view wildlife. This was a great post explained perfectly for those who may want to visit. The photo are beautiful and speak to peace, Siobhan.
Thank you, Donna! I looked for photos with desert, water, and good clouds for that post. Yes, deserts can be very peaceful and quiet. 🏜
Thank you, John!
How pretty! I feel like being there right now 😀…
Thanks! There may be a dusting of snow covering them right now. ❄
Beautiful spots and very different from other Oregon landscapes I’ve seen, whether in person or in photos.
Thanks, Sarah! Those photos show some of our Basin and Range topography. It’s very dramatic.
Siobhan, I wouldn’t have thought there would be more than one Siobhan sullivan on the web but of course I was wrong. Could you send me an email at email@example.com when you have a chance? Thanks
Yeah, there are more than I thought out there with the same name. Email sent…
More on my list! I hope to get out for some birding this spring. Thanks!
Very dramatic landscapes over here! Lots more bird activity lately. 🐦
Thank you! 🙂
These are all beautiful – and had I ever visited the US, I would have gone to Bend for some peaceful moments.
Thanks, Ann-Christine! There are lots of quiet, peaceful places in the desert.
We need to plan a trip to that area before too long – will add this as a potential place to visit, thnx.
Lots of places that draw in birds! You should look up the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival. I’ll be going to it in April. Finally got into the Big Day trip after many attempts. 🐦
Breathtaking captures of this very special place! Peaceful, indeed! Love to visit there.
Thanks, Amy! It is indeed a peaceful place. 🙂