Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, Lakeview

4.5
#41 of 44 in Wildlife in Oregon
Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge is a National Wildlife Refuge on Hart Mountain in southeastern Oregon, which protects more than 422sqmi and more than 300 species of wildlife, including pronghorn, bighorn sheep, mule deer, sage grouse, and Great Basin redband trout. The refuge, created in 1936 as a range for remnant herds of pronghorn, spans habitats ranging from high desert to shallow playa lakes, and is among the largest wildlife habitats containing no domestic livestock.Protected statusSince its creation as an antelope reserve, management of the refuge has broadened to include conservation of all wildlife species characteristic of this high desert habitat and restoration of native ecosystems for the public's enjoyment education, and appreciation. The area's protected status has been remarked upon by former Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas:Recreational activities Wildlife photography and observation are the most popular refuge activities. There are permanent blinds throughout the refuge. Hiking is encouraged, but trails are not maintained, though most of the terrain permits cross-country hiking. Backpacking is the only way to experience remote parts of the refuge. Camping is free, but there are no reservations, and there is a 14-day limit. Generators and power equipment are prohibited. Bicycling is limited to roads open to motor vehicles, but the rough roads require sturdy bikes. Fishing is allowed in a few locations, with an Oregon fishing license. Hunting is permitted for a very limited number of deer, pronghorn and bighorn sheep. Rock collecting is limited to 7lb per day, only surface objects may be collected, Digging and blasting are not allowed. The nearby Bureau of Land Management Sunstone mine is a source for the Oregon state gemstone.
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Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
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  • Not much to see and ended up doing gravel for 67 miles from Frechglen direction. Nice view on the Plush end. Didn't see any antelopes even though on a motorcycle  more »
  • if you want to see antelope, jack rabbits, coyotes, and lots of birds this is the place to come and visit. It's located in a remote corner of Oregon and one needs to make sure you bring your provision...  more »
  • The Hart Mountain ranger station is farther away from an Interstate highway than any other point in the continental United States. This is part of a vast region that includes Steens Mountain and the M...  more »
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  • Amazing location. Hart Mountain rises out of the desert and offers a fantastic campground, hiking options, and wildlife viewing. Oh and a hot spring! It's in the middle if nowhere, but that's part of the allure. Very well managed by USFWS staff!
  • Hart Mountain in Lake County, Oregon, stands at an elevation of over 8,000 feet in the surrounding Warner Valley floor. This massive fault block ridge is noted for a series of steep slopes, craggy cliffs, and rugged ridges. From the west-side, there are spectacular views of the Warner Valley Wetlands. The east-side of Hart Mountain showcases the rolling sage lands and high-desert plateaus well-known in southeastern Oregon. Hart Mountain is most notably known to be home to the expansive Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge. At one time in our national history, the pronghorn antelope was nearly as populous as the American bison. However, around the turn of the century, Western settlers nearly hunted the pronghorn antelope to extinction. In the 1930s, local residents in favor of protecting the pronghorn urged federal support with their grassroots movement. In response, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established by executive order, the range as breeding ground for pronghorn antelope in 1936. You may ask, “Why are these animals called pronghorn antelope?” Well, the antelopes at Hart Mountain are actually pronghorns, a family of hoofed animals that are related, but are not part of the true family of antelopes found in Africa or Asia. The pronghorn is only found in North America and are commonly referred to as pronghorn antelope. Recreational opportunities are almost as diverse as the local inhabitants. They include wildlife observation, hiking, overnight backpacking, camping, fishing, horseback riding, rock hounding, hunting, and photography. Fishing is allowed per refuge regulations in Warner Pond, Rock Creek, and Guano Creek, except during drought periods. There is seasonal hunting permitted for partridge, quail, deer, pronghorn antelope, and bighorn sheep. Rock collecting is permitted with a 7-pound limit per person for above only ground collection. Digging and blasting are prohibited within the refuge. The Hot Springs Campground is very primitive but will accommodate tent camping and small to medium sized motor homes. No water or other services are provided. The Hot Springs Campground has 30 camping sites. The camping spots are first-come first-serve, unmarked, and at no cost. The land at the campground is nestled nicely between rolling hills, and is fairly plush with aspen groves amidst a more barren prairie-like surrounding landscape. Most notable at the Hot Springs Campground is the Hart Mountain Hot Springs (also known as Antelope Hot Springs). This is a natural hot springs that is open year round. The hot springs is located in the middle of the campground, at the head of Rock Creek, and is surrounded by an aspen-dotted meadow. This natural rock pool is 6 by 9 feet, and 5 feet deep, made of bedrock, and can accommodate up to 6 people. The water is a very comfortable 100-104 degrees F and bubbles up from the pool’s gravel and bedrock bottom. A small ladder at one end of the pool provides convenience in getting in and out of the warm water. The Hart Mountain Hot Springs is well defined by the castle-like stone and concrete wall around the spring. This nicely constructed feature makes the hot springs very relaxing, can add privacy, and adds a bit of style and flair to this otherwise natural and rugged landscape. This is a destination reminiscent of life on the range with its throwback to Oregon’s pioneering start. The picturesque land embodies solitude and has unrivaled majesty. The refuge has a sense of calm that is in stark contrast with many more highly visited recreational destinations in the state. With craggy vistas and flat sage-tipped plateaus, to rolling hills and aspen-lined springs, the landscape is a pristine ground for both discovery and tranquility. Hart Mountain is truly a home on the range where the deer and the antelope play.
  • Thank you to the staff of the Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge for the chance to hunt on the refuge and the great condition of the facilities provided for our use. Courteous helpful staff and the beautiful scenery make this a must visit in Eastern Oregon. John Murray, Heppner Oregon
  • More west and more east, there are more scenic places. If you aren't used to "scenic" though, this is a pretty great way to get it from the car. Just keep going east for MORE beauty (Steens) or west (Fremont National forest).
  • Vast, silent expanse. Saw eagles and antelope. Beautiful campground locations.

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