Alberta Grasslands

The shortgrass prairies of the northern Great Plains were mapped in 2001 into three ecoregions–the Montana Valley and Foothill Grasslands,the Northern Mixed Grasslands, and the Northern Short Grasslands. In 2017, the Northern Mixed Grasslands and the Northern Short Grasslands were merged. I maintained the 2001 split below. This is part 2 of an earlier post in August 2014.

Montana Valley and Foothill Grasslands (NA808)

National sites in the Montana Valley and Foothill Grasslands include the national historic sites of Calgary, Trans-Canada Trail, and national wildlife areas.

Beaulieu (Beautiful Place) National Historic Site (N51⁰2’ W114⁰5’) is a 3-ha estate located at 707 13th Avenue SW at 6th Street SW in Calgary. The 1891 mansion for Senator James Alexander Lougheed is the earliest example of a mansion on the prairies. The house has Victorian eclectic design and is considered the finest sandstone residence in Alberta. The house is managed by the Lougheed House Conservation Society. Adjacent terraced formal gardens are a Calgary city park.

Calgary City Hall National Historic Site (N51⁰3’W114⁰3’) is on 716 Macleod Trail SE at 7th Avenue SE. The 1911 structure is the only surviving example of monumental city halls erected in prairie cities before 1930. There is a lofty clock tower, prominent arched entry, and Romanesque Revival decorations, creating an imposing symbol of community progress.

Fort Calgary National Historic Site (N51˚2’ W114˚3’) is operated by the City of Calgary at 750 9th Avenue SE. The wooden fort was built by the North West Mounted Police in 1875 at the confluence of the Elbow and Bow Rivers. A river walk leads to the confluence. The fort is on the Trans-Canada Trail.

Heritage Hall National Historic Site (N51⁰4’ W114⁰5’) is on the campus of the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, accessed from 14th Street Northwest east from the junction of 14th Avenue Northwest. The 1922 three-story Collegiate Gothic style building commemorates the establishment of the first post-secondary technical college in western Canada.

Inglewood Migratory Bird Sanctuary (N51⁰2’ W114⁰0’) is 111 ha in the city of Calgary on the Bow River. It is a riverine forest extending south from Route 2 and Route 1A junction. It is noted for songbirds and waterfowl. The bird sanctuary is on the Trans-Canada Trail.

Mewata Drill Hall National Historic Site (N51⁰3’ W114⁰5’) is at 801 11th Street SW in Calgary. Still in use, the large, Tudor revival structure was used by the military during the Boer War (South Africa) and in World War I.

Palace Theatre National Historic Site (N51⁰3’ W114⁰4’) is at 211 8th Avenue SW in Calgary. Still in use, it is one of four surviving neoclassical movie theaters in western Canada. It is also associated with early radio broadcasts. The building was designed by architect H. Howard Crane in 1921.

Stephen Avenue National Historic Site (N51⁰3’ W114⁰4’) is along 8th Avenue SW in Calgary between 1st and 4th Streets SW. The well-preserved retail street, now a pedestrian mall, was built between 1880 and 1930 and contains Victorian, Art Deco, and Beaux-Arts elements. It interprets the processes of prairie urban development and the rising importance of the retail sector in the Canadian economy.

Trans-Canada Trail segments within the Montana valley and foothill grasslands ecoregion are in Calgary along the Elbow River and Bow River. Along the Elbow River, the trail passes Fort Calgary National Historic Site (N51˚2’ W114˚3’), Calgary Stampede (N51⁰2’ W114⁰3’), Glenmore Reservoir, and Weaselhead Natural Environment Park within the Canadian Aspen Forests and parkland ecoregion. On the Bow River, the trail passes the Bow Habitat Station and Sam Livingston Fish Hatchery (N51⁰2’ W114⁰1’), Inglewood Migratory Bird Sanctuary (N51⁰2’ W114⁰0’), Beaverdam Flats Park (N51⁰0’ W114⁰2’), Carburn Park (N50⁰58’ W114⁰2’), and Fish Creek Provincial Park (N51°10’ W114°22’). On Nose Creek, the trail passes the Calgary Zoo (N51⁰3’ W114⁰1’) and West Nose Creek Confluence Park (N51⁰8’ W114⁰3’).

Women’s Buffalo Jump National Historic Site (N50⁰28’ W113⁰53’) is 3 km northwest of Cayley. In use for 2,000 years, the site contains archaeological deposits 6 m deep at the base of a cliff.

Provincial and local sites in the Montana Valley and Foothills Grasslands include provincial and city parks of note.

Bigelow Reservoir Provincial Recreation Area (N51°53’ W113°28’), is 12 ha on Threehills Creek south of Route 587, west of Huxley, available for day-use reservoir activities.

Beaverdam Flats Park, City of Calgary (N51⁰0’ W114⁰2’) is a 43-ha park on the eastern bank of the Bow River, noted for waterfowl watching. The trails are part of the Trans-Canada Trail system.

Bow Habitat Station and Sam Livingston Fish Hatchery, Province of Alberta (N51⁰2’ W114⁰1’) are on the Bow River in Calgary at the end of 17A Street Southeast, north of Blackfoot Trail. The 21-ha site contains a visitor center, trout hatchery, and wetland restoration area in the city of Calgary’s Pearce Estate Park.

Carburn Park, City of Calgary (N50⁰58’ W114⁰2’) is a 135-ha tract along the Bow River featuring a riverine deciduous forest. The trails are part of the Trans-Canada Trail system.

Fish Creek Provincial Park, Alberta, (N51°10’ W114°22’) is 1,356 ha in southern portion of the Calgary urban area along Fish Creek and the Bow River. It is in the Alberta Aspen Forests and Parklands (NA 802) and Northern Mixed Grasslands (NA 808) ecoregions. Trails wind throughout the park. The visitor centre at Bow Valley Ranch (N50°55’ W114°1’), Mallard Point (N50°56’ W114°0’), and Rotary Nature Park (N50°53’ W114°0’) are in the Northern Mixed Grasslands ecoregion. The Trans-Canada Trail crosses the park.

West Nose Creek Confluence Park, City of Calgary (N51⁰8’ w114⁰3’) is 73 ha on Beddington Trail NE. It features native grasslands and glacial erratic boulders. It is included in the Trans-Canada Trail system.

Willow Creek Provincial Park, Alberta (N50°7’ W113°47’), is 194 acres along Willow Creek in the grasslands of the Porcupine Hills.

Wyndham-Carseland Provincial Park, Alberta (N50°50’ W113°26’) consists of 178 ha of riparian areas and a camping area on the Bow River southeast of Calgary at the Route 24 river crossing. A nature trail winds along the Bow River.

An important private site in the Montana Valley and Foothill Grasslands is Frank Lake (N50°34’ W113°44’), a 3,100-acre wetland 6 km east of High River. This is the most important wetland in southwestern Alberta for breeding water birds and is designated an Important Bird Area. It is noted for trumpeter swans, tundra swans, pintails, and shorebirds. The water supply was secured by a pipeline from the Highwood River funded by Ducks Unlimited. A viewing blind is on Route 23.

Northern Mixed Grasslands (NA810)

National Areas in the Northern Mixed Grasslands include Atlas Coal Mine, Blackfoot Crossing, and Spiers Lake.

Atlas No. 3 Coal Mine National Historic Site (N51˚20’ W112˚29’) is managed by the Atlas Coal Mine Historical Society. The site commemorates the early 20th century Drumheller Valley coal field and the central role is played in the Canadian coal industry. The site operated from 1936 to 1956. The surface plant is well-preserved. There is an eight-story wooden tipple, washhouse, and blacksmith shop. The tipple is the best surviving example of that type of preparation facility in Canada. The site is on Route 10 at East Coulee.

Blackfoot Crossing Historical Park includes three national historic sites: Blackfoot Crossing, Earthlodge Village, and Treaty No. 7 Signing Site (N50˚48’ W112˚52’). The park, operated by Siksika Nation at a ford on the Bow River, on Route 842 south of Cluny. Blackfoot Crossing National Historic Site is a cultural, educational and entertainment center for the Siksika Nation language, culture and traditions. Earthlodge Village National Historic Site is a complex of earthworks on the north bank of the Bow River built in 1740 by an unidentified people from the Missouri River region of the Dakotas. It is the only structure of its type on the Canadian prairies. Treaty No. 7 National Historic Site commemorates the signing of the treaty of 1877 with the tribes of the Blackfoot Confederacy, which surrendered 50,000 square miles of Alberta to white settlement.

Spiers Lake National Wildlife Area (N51°55’ W112°15’) is 65 ha south of Route 589 near Endiang. The uncultivated plains fescue grassland is on a hummocky moraine and includes an alkaline lake. The lake is a breeding spot for piping plover and is also used by other shorebirds and ducks. The grassland is used by prairie songbirds and is habitat for three rare plants. Spiers Lake is part of the Chain Lakes Important Bird Area for piping plover.

Provincial and local sites in the Northern Mixed Grasslands include provincial parks on reservoirs, important native habitat preserves, and the Royal Tyrrell Museum, one of the most important dinosaur fossil museums in the world.

Little Bow Provincial Park (N50°14’ W112°55’) is on the north shore of Travers Reservoir and provides reservoir recreation. It is an Important Bird Area for the peregrine falcon. It is part of the McGregor Lake and Travers Reservoir Important Bird Area.

Little Bow Reservoir Provincial Recreation Area (N50°12’ W112°40’) is a reservoir recreation area but is also important for American white pelican and colonial waterbirds. It is part of the McGregor Lake and Travers Reservoir Important Bird Area.

Eagle Lake (N51⁰0’ W113⁰19’), Namaka Lake (N50⁰56’ W113⁰13’), Ballina Lake (N50⁰56’ W113⁰12’), and Stobart Lake (N50⁰54’ W113⁰11’) make up an Important Bird Area that is globally significant for migrating waterbirds, including western grebe, tundra swan, and mallards, as well as nesting gulls. The area is southeast of Strathmore and south of Route 1. Eagle Lake is privately owned while Namaka Lake is provincial-owned. Stobart Lake is part of the Siksika Nation.

Hand Hills Ecological Reserve (N51°24’ W112°17’) is 2,229 ha adjacent to Little Fish Lake. Foot access is from Route 573. The site is an Important Bird Area for ferruginous hawk and piping plover. Prairie long-tailed weasels also occur.

Little Fish Lake Provincial Park (N51°22’ W112°12’), is 61 ha on the shore of Little Fish Lake, available for lakeside recreation. Little Fish Lake is an Important Bird Area for piping plover.

Midland Provincial Park (N51°29’ W112°47’) is 599 ha on Route 838 west of Drumheller. Paths wind through willows and cottonwoods. Within the park is the Royal Tyrrell Provincial Museum, the most extensive display of dinosaur fossils in the world.

Rumsey Natural Area (N51⁰51’ W112⁰37’) is 14,922 ha east of Route 56. The area is the last remaining undisturbed aspen parkland in Alberta. Topography is knob and kettle (hummocky moraine).

Tolman Badlands Heritage Rangeland Natural Area is 5,945 ha in five tracts along the Red Deer River downstream of Dry Island Buffalo Jump Provincial Park. Two tracts are in the Northern Mixed Grasslands (NA 810) ecoregion; one is north of Route 27 (N51°42’ W112°56’), and one is south of Route 27 (N51°38’ W112°54’).
Travers Reservoir Provincial Recreation Area, Alberta (N50°15’ W112°49’), is a camping and day use area at the Travers Dam. It is part of the McGregor Lake and Travers Reservoir Important Bird Area.

Private sites in the Northern Mixed Grasslands include lakes important for migratory waterfowl.
Chain Lakes (N51⁰52’ W112⁰13’) are a complex of eight shallow alkali lakes with grassy meadows that are an Important Bird Area for piping plover and waterbirds. Spiers Lake National Wildlife Area is included in the IBA.

Dowling Lake (N51⁰44’ W112⁰1’) is a large alkaline lake with no outflow northwest of Hanna. The lake and surrounding area are an Important Bird Area for piping plover colonial waterbirds, waterfowl, Baird’s sparrow, and Sprague’s pipit.

Handhills Lake (N51⁰29’ W112⁰8’) is noted for mudflats and pebbly shorelines, attracting piping plover breeding, as well as migratory geese and waterfowl. It is an Important Bird Area.

Sullivan Lake (N52⁰3’ W112⁰0’) is a large inland saline lake designated an Important Bird Area for waterbirds.

Northern short grasslands (NA811)

Antelope Creek Ranch Habitat Development Area (N50⁰36’ W112⁰11’) is a 2,200-ha ranch established as a model wise use property for management of native mixed grass prairie. Management is determined by an advisory committee with representatives from the Alberta Fish and Game Association, Wildlife habitat Canada, Ducks Unlimited Canada, and the Alberta Department of Sustainable Resource Development. The ranch is an Eastern Irrigation District wildlife habitat property.

Bobby Hale Marsh (N50⁰46’ W112⁰19’) is 240 ha off Route 550 east of Barasso. It is an Eastern Irrigation District wildlife habitat property.

Kitsim Reservoir (N50⁰27’ W112⁰4’) is part of the Lake Newell Important Bird Area. These large reservoirs have marsh habitat utilized by the Great Plains toad, water hyssop, slender mouse-ear cress, as well as American white pelican, ring-necked gull, and black-bellied plover. The reservoir is managed by the Eastern Irrigation District.

Lore Lake (N50⁰40’ W112⁰19’) is 140 ha and an Eastern Irrigation District wildlife habitat property.

Eastern Cascades Forests

The Eastern Cascades forests ecoregion (NA 512) is mostly to the west of the121st meridian. The sections east of the 121st meridian are described here, with those to the west being a future attraction. The sections below include the southeastern Wenatchee Mountains and Simcoe Mountains of Washington, the eastern extension of the Newberry Volcanics (Paulina Mountains), Fremont Mountains, and Warner Mountains of Oregon; and the Warner Mountains and Modoc Plateau of California.

The National Forest (NF) System in the Eastern Cascades forests consists of five areas:

Deschutes NF, Oregon, is 1.6 million acres. In the eastern areas, Aspen Flat (N43˚34’ W120˚47’) is an oasis of lush greenery rising above the desert. It is a bird watching and wildlife viewing area. Pine Mountain Observatory (N43˚48’ W120˚56’) is an astronomical observatory operated by the University of Oregon as an educational facility, offering public tours and programs using three telescopes, with apertures of 15, 24, and 32 inches. The Oregon High Desert National Recreation Trail (NRT) crosses Pine Mountain, and continues through the forest to Sand Spring and Pilot Butte. Lavacicle Cave Geological Area (N43˚42’ W120˚49’) is a large cave with frozen lava stalagtites.

Fremont NF, Oregon, is 1.2 million acres, including the Crane Mountain and Fremont NRTs and Gearhart Mountain Wilderness, described elsewhere in this section. The eastern part of the forest from Summer Lake south to the California state line and east to the Warner Mountains is managed as the Lakeview Federal Stewardship Unit and has its own special management plan and resource targets. Slide Mountain Geological Area (N42˚41’ W120˚45’) is 720 acres south of Summer Lake and the remnant of a dome-shaped volcano. At some point the entire northern face of the volcano failed, creating an enormous debris slope visible from State Route 31. Augur Creek Research Natural Area (RNA) (N42˚32’ W120˚45’) is 2,170 acres north of Gearhart Mountain Wilderness, set aside for an example of the ponderosa pine-white fir-snowberry association. A second portion of the RNA is on Deadhorse Rim and includes whitebark pine-lodgepole pine communities. The Sycan River is designated as a national wild and scenic river from its headwaters (N42˚39’ W120˚44’) west to the Lake-Klamath County line (N42˚45’ W121˚0’) and into the Winema National Forest. The Sprague River, North Fork (N42˚32’ W120˚49’) is designated as a wild and scenic river from Gearhart Mountain Wilderness downstream 15 miles.

South of Gearhart Mountain, the South Fork Sprague River Special Management Area (N42˚24’ W120˚48’) is 545 acres in a steep basalt canyon with old growth ponderosa pine and other confers. The Chewaucan River is considered eligible for the national wild and scenic river system from its headwaters (N42˚28’ W120˚36’) downstream to the forest boundary at Paisley (N42˚38’ W120˚37’). Vee Pasture RNA (N42˚24’ W120˚51’) is 620 acres of grasslands and low sagebrush scablands on a basalt rim overlooking the South Fork Sprague River, north of State Route 140 at Round Grove. South of State Route 140, Dog Lake Special Management Area (N42˚4’ W120˚43’) is 4,700 acres west of Goose Lake and is a scenic lake surrounded by ponderosa pine, white fir, and aspen. East of US Route 395, Quamasia quamash Botanical Area (N42˚10’ W120˚15’) is 50 acres of camas in the Warner Mountains east of Goose Lake.

Lassen NF, California, is 1.2 million acres, mostly in the eastern Cascades forests, including Eagle Lake (N40˚42’ W120˚43’), providing lakeside recreation opportunities and a five-mile recreation trail. Eagle Lake is a large alkaline natural lake. It has no outlet. The eastern portions are managed by the Bureau of Land Management as part of the National System of Public Lands.  The lake harbors an endemic subspecies of trout and is an Important Bird Area for western and Clark’s grebes, and black tern. The forest is also full of various volcanic features to the east of Lassen Volcano. The Bizz Johnson Trail extends through the forest from Duck Lake (N40˚22’ W121˚0’) through the Susan River canyon (N40˚24’ W120˚49’).

Modoc NF, California, is 1.7 million acres, and includes the Warner Mountains and Modoc Plateau in the map area. The Applegate and Lassen segments of the California National Historic Trail cross the forest. In the Warner Mountains are the Highgrade, Fandango, Lake City, Fitzhugh, and Patterson Management Areas. The Highgrade management area is on the Oregon border and is noted for large stands of aspen and high elevation meadows. Dismal Swamp Botanical Areas (N41˚59’ W120˚10’) is on the Oregon border on Forest Road 48N21 off Forest Highway 2. It contains a birch riparian shrub community. High Grade NRT (see separate description) is located on Forest Road 47N72 off of Forest Highway 9. The Patterson Management Area includes Blue Lake (N41˚9’ W120˚17’). Blue Lake NRT (see separate description) is in the Warner Mountains east of Likely on Forest Road 38N30. A scenic trail to Mill Creek Falls leads from Forest Road 40N45 east of Likely. Raider Basin RNA (N41˚20’ W120˚9’) is 6,100 acres in the Warner Mountains northwest of Eagleville and represents the white fir forest type.

To the west of Goose Lake is the Modoc Plateau, a region of marshy ponds in a high forested steppe.  It is an IBA for breeding waterfowl. This area is dominated by Devil’s Garden Management Area, a high plateau of juniper woodlands with sage and grass flats. Devils Garden RNA (N41˚48’ W120˚36’) is 800 acres west of Goose Lake and contains a representative western juniper-sagebrush shrub-steppe community.

West of US Route 395 and south of State Route 299 are the Portugese Ridge and North Adin Management Areas. Higher areas have ponderosa pine, white fir, and incense cedar, and lower ridges have juniper-grass vegetation. A prominent peak is Manzanita Mountain (N41˚17’ W120˚48’).

Along State Route 139 south of Adin is the South Adin Management Area, another ponderosa pine area. There are camp sites along Willow Creek (N41˚1’ W120˚50’).

Snoqualmie NF, Washington, is 1.2 million acres. The portion in the map area is administered by the Okanogan-Wenatchee NF supervisor. The Tieton River Canyon (N46˚42’ W120˚54’) along US Route 12 west of Naches is an IBA for bald and golden eagles. There is a checkerboard pattern of ownership, with the Forest Service, the state (Oak Creek Wildlife Area), and The Nature Conservancy as major landowners. The area features white oak woodlands and ponderosa pine forests inhabited by golden eagle and Rocky Mountain elk. The drive up Windy Pass Mountain on FR 1302 off of US Route 12 (N46˚40’ W120˚57’) provides dramatic views of the area.

Wenatchee NF, Washington, is 1.7 million acres. The Taneum Creek area of the forest south of Cle Elum is in the Eastern Cascades forests ecoregion. Drop Creek proposed RNA (N47˚16’ W120˚32’) is east of Cle Elum on Table Mountain and contains an Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir community.

Recreation lakes in the Eastern Cascades forests includes two sites. French Canyon Dam, Bureau of Reclamation, Washington, (N46˚43’ W120˚48’) is on the North Fork Cowiche Creek west of Tieton. This reregulating dam is at the outlet of the flume from Tieton Diversion Dam. Tieton Diversion Dam, Bureau of Reclamation, Washington (N46˚40’ W121˚0’) is on US 12 in the Snoqualmie NF. This low dam diverts water into the Tieton Main Canal for use in the Yakima irrigation project.

The National Trail System in the eastern Cascades forests includes four sites on the California National Historic Trail (NHT). On the Applegate Trail route of the California Trail to Oregon, Fandango Pass (N41˚48’ W120˚12’), Modoc National Forest, California, is on Forest Highway 9 west of Fort Bidwell. On the Lassen Trail, a southern “shortcut” off of the Applegate Trail to get to California, Conical Rock is on South Fork Pit River just west of US Route 395 (N41˚34’ W120˚26’). Also on the Lassen Trail, Duck Lake, Lassen National Forest (N40˚22’ W121˚0’) is south of State Route 44. On the Nobles Trail, another route to California, the Bridge Creek crossing (N40˚30’ W120˚57’) is about four miles north of State Route 44. The grave of emigrant Nancy Ann Allen is located at the Bridge Creek crossing. The site is marked by the Oregon-California Trails Association (http://www.canvocta.org/allen_grave.htm).

National Recreation Trails in the Eastern Cascades forests ecoregion include seven sites.

Bizz Johnson NRT, National System of Public Lands and Lassen National Forest, California, extends 25 miles from Susanville Train Depot (N40˚25’ W120˚40’) through the Susan River Canyon to Westwood Junction (N40˚26’ W120˚57’), then south to Mason Station Trailhead (N40˚22’ W121˚0’). It is a rail-trail.

Blue Lake NRT, Modoc NF, California (N41˚9’ W120˚17’), is a two-mile trail that encircles 6,000-foot-high Blue Lake in the South Warner Mountains.

Crane Mountain NRT, Fremont NF, Oregon, is 36 miles long and extends from the California state line (N42˚0’ W120˚13’) north to the South Fork Crooked Creek Trailhead on Forest Road 3615 (N42˚19’ W120˚10’), passing 8,300-foot Crane Mountain. The trail is known for wildflowers. It connects with the Fremont NRT at South Fork Crooked Creek Trailhead.

Fremont NRT, Fremont NF, Oregon, is 134 miles long, including 30 miles on top of a 2,000-foot-high fault block known as Winter Ridge. The trail extends from 8,100-foot Yamsay Mountain (N42˚56’ W121˚22’) southeast to Vee Lake (N42˚25’ W120˚10’) north of Lakeview. Trailheads are at Farm Well Horse Camp at the junction of Forest Roads 2916 and 2914 south of Silver Lake (N43˚1’ W120˚58’), Government Harvey Pass (N42˚42’ W120˚48’), Cox Pass on Forest Road 3625 (N42˚23’ W120˚23’), Mill Trailhead on County Road 2-13 (N42˚20’ W120˚15’), and Vee Lake on Forest Road 3615.

High Grade NRT, Modoc NF, California (N41˚57’ W120˚14’) is a five-mile trail passing springs, seeps, and early gold rush and mining heritage. It is located on Forest Road 47N72 off of Forest Highway 9 east of Goose Lake, in the Warner Mountains.

Iron Horse State Park, Washington, is a rail-trail is also the John Wayne Pioneer National Recreation Trail. It extends from Cedar Falls (south of North Bend near Seattle) to Beverly Junction (N46˚49’ W119˚57’) on the Columbia River, passing South Clay Elum (N47˚12’ W120˚56’), Thorp (N47˚3’ W120˚40’), Ellensburg (N47˚0’ W120˚33’), Kittitas (N46˚59’ W120˚25’), and Army West (N46˚57’ W120˚18’) trailheads.  Future extensions will be to the Idaho border at Tekoa.

Oregon High Desert NRT, Oregon, extends 800 miles from the Oregon Badlands Wilderness to Lake Owyhee State Park, mostly across the Snake-Columbia shrub-steppe ecoregion. It is a project of the Oregon Natural Desert Association. In the Deschutes NF in the eastern Cascades forest ecoregion, the trail extends from Pine Mountain (N43˚48’ W120˚57’) south to Sand Spring and Pilot Butte (N43˚41’ W120˚49’). In the Fremont NF south of Paisley, the trail follows the Fremont NRT (see description above), from the Chewaucan River (N42˚37’ W120˚36’), ‘to Avery Pass, Myers Meadow, Round Pass, Cox Pass (N42˚23’ W120˚23’), Mill Trailhead (N42˚20’ W120˚15’), South Fork Crooked Creek Trailhead (N42˚19’ W120˚10’), Little Honey Creek, and Abert Rim (N2˚26’ W120˚12’).

The Wild and Scenic River System in the Eastern Cascades forests includes two rivers. Sprague River, North Fork, Fremont NF, Oregon (N42˚32’ W120˚49’). From the Head of the River Spring near Gearheart Mountain Wilderness, the wild river designation extends 15 miles downstream.  The river crosses broad high elevation meadows before turning south and entering a steep basalt canyon.

Sycan River, Fremont NF, Oregon (N42˚39’ W120˚44’), begins south of Summer Lake and Slide Mountain. The river flows west and northwest to Sycan Marsh, west of the map area, then south to the Sprague River valley. Sycan Marsh is a sandhill crane and waterfowl area and IBA.

The National Wilderness Preservation System in the Eastern Cascades forests includes two areas. Gearhart Mountain Wilderness, Fremont NF, Oregon, is dominated by the volcanic Gearhart Mountain. It extends from the North Fork Sprague River (N42˚35’ W120˚53’) south to Palisade Rocks (N42˚28’ W120˚49’). There are high meadows, cirques, U-shaped valleys amid a lodgepole pine-ponderosa pine-white fir forest.

South Warner Wilderness, Modoc NF, California, is 18 miles long and eight miles wide, extending from Granger Creek (N41˚28’ W120˚12’) south to near Patterson Meadows (N41˚12’ W120˚12’). Vegetation is mountain meadows, pines, fir, and aspen. There are 77 miles of trails providing the opportunity for five loops. The Summit Trail passes for 22 miles near the major peaks, including Squaw Peak, Warner Peak, Dusenbery Peak, Eagle Peak, and Emerson Peak.

A National Wildlife Refuge (NWR)  in the Eastern Cascades forests is Modoc NWR, California (N41˚27’ W120˚32’), a 7,000-acre marsh, wet meadow, and grassland tract on US Route 395 near Alturas, supporting sandhill crane, least bittern, and other migratory waterfowl. It is an IBA.

State and local sites in the Eastern Cascades forests includes the following 20 sites:

Ash Creek Wildlife Area, California (N41˚11’ W121˚0’) is a 14,000-acre area on Route 299 between Bieber and Adin including natural wetlands in the Big Valley, a large valley formed by the Pit River. It is an IBA for sandhill crane, bufflehead, and geese.

Badger Gulch Natural Area Preserve, Washington (N45˚50’ W120˚32’) is a grassland area with oak-pine savanna east of Goldendale along Rock Creek.

Booth State Scenic Corridor, Oregon (N42˚11’ W120˚35’), is a 300-acre old growth ponderosa pine forest on State Route 140 west of Lakeview at Drews Gap.

Brooks Memorial State Park, Washington (N45˚56’ W120˚40’) is 13 miles north of Goldendale on US Route 97, this is a 700-acre hiking park with ponderosa and Oregon pine forests in the Simcoe Mountains.

Chandler State Wayside, Oregon (N42˚25’ W120˚17’) is an 85-acre ponderosa pine forest along Crooked Creek on US Route 395 north of Lakeview.

Cleveland Shrub-Steppe Natural Area Preserve, Washington (N45˚58’ W120˚22’), is a grassland northeast of Goldendale at the margin of the eastern Cascades ecoregion, Oregon white oak, aspen, and ponderosa pine.

Dutch Flat Wildlife Area, California (N41˚16’ W120˚59’), is northwest of Adin.

Fitzhugh Creek Wildlife Area, California (N41˚22’ W120˚23’) is in the Warner Mountains eight miles east of Alturas and U.S. Route 395.

Fort Simcoe State Park, Washington (N46˚20’ W120˚50’) is on the Yakama Indian Reservation. This park preserves an 1850’s-era military installation, located in an old oak grove watered by springs. The mature Oregon white oaks support Lewis’ woodpecker and are an IBA.  The site is seven miles west of White Swan.

Goldendale Fish Hatchery Unit, Klickitat Wildlife Area, Washington (N45˚50’ W120˚54’) is a pheasant hunting area, as well as a fish hatchery, four miles west of Goldendale.

Goldendale Observatory State Park, Washington (N45˚50’ W120˚49’) is the nation’s largest public telescope, located on a mountaintop one mile north of Goldendale.

Goose Lake State Recreation Area, Oregon (N42˚0’ W120˚19’) is a lakeside recreation area with a trail on an alkaline lake with no outlet. Goose Lake formerly flowed into the Pit River to the south. Mudflats at the south end on privately owned land in California are an IBA for Canada geese, canvasback, snowy plover, terns, and gulls. The Applegate Trail (see California NHT) passed by the south end of the lake.

Iron Horse State Park, Washington, is a rail-trail also known as the John Wayne Pioneer National Recreation Trail. See description under NRTs.

Modoc Line Rail Trail, Lassen Land and Trails Trust, California, runs 85 miles from Wendell to Likely.

L.T. Murray Wildlife Area, Washington (N47˚1’ W120˚48’) is a 100,000-acre area in three sections.  The section south of I-90 and west of Ellensburg is in the eastern Cascades.

Oak Creek Wildlife Area, Oak Creek Unit, Washington (N46˚39’ W120˚47’), is a 46,000-acre area surrounding the intersection of U.S. Route 12 and State Route 410 northwest of Yakima.  Areas along the Naches and Tieton Rivers are rock climbing and wildlife watching areas. The Tieton River corridor along US Route 12 west of Naches is an IBA for bald and golden eagles. There is a checkerboard pattern of ownership, with the Forest Service (Snoqualmie National Forest), the state, and The Nature Conservancy as a major landowners.

Oak Creek Wildlife Area, Rock Creek Unit, Washington (N46˚57’ W120˚58’), is an area of state lands interspersed with Snoqualmie NF property in a checkerboard landownership pattern. Wildlife ranges from mountain goats in alpine areas to elk in shrub steppe. The area also features basalt cliffs.

Pine Creek Wildlife Area, California (N41˚26’ W120˚25’) provides deer and antelope range in the Warner Mountains six miles southeast of Alturas on Parker Creek Road.

Silver Creek Wildlife Area, California (N41˚11’ W120˚6’) is located south of Eagleville on Patterson Hill Road in the Warner Mountains.

Willow Creek Wildlife Area, California (N40˚35’ W120˚37’) is a waterfowl area north of Susanville on State Route 139, providing meadows and wetlands.

Cascades Mountains Leeward Forests, Part 2

Part 2 provides a description of National Wilderness Preservation System, National Fish Hatcheries, State Lands, and Local Sites.

National Wilderness Preservation System

There are five units of the National Wilderness Preservation System in the Cascades Mountains leeward forests.

Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Snoqualmie National Forest, Wenatchee National Forest, and Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery, Washington, is 414,700 acres with 700 lakes between US Route 2 and I-90. The glacier-carved area has permanent snowfields. At lower elevations on the eastern side of the Cascades, the wilderness is a ponderosa pine-grassland forest, while on the western side, Douglas fir, cedar, and western hemlock forests predominate. Enchantment Lakes-Cashmere Crags (N47˚29’ W120˚48’) has sheer rock faces up to 1,500 feet and is considered one of the best rock climbing areas in the U.S. Snow Lake (N47˚29’ W120˚45’) within the wilderness is a water source for Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery. A tunnel from the bottom of Snow Lake drains into Nada Lake when needed, and the cool water flows downstream to the fish hatchery. The northernmost area of the wilderness is along Whitepine Creek (N47˚46’ W120˚56’), the easternmost area is along Ingalls Creek (N47˚28’ W120˚41’), the southernmost area is at Stonesthrow Lake (N47˚23’ W121˚20’), and the westernmost area is along Philippa Creek (N47˚37’ W121˚38’). The Chiwaukum Creek proposed RNA (N47˚42’ W120˚47’) is in the eastern portion of the wilderness west US Route 2 and the Wenatchee River corridor. It was established to provide a representative old growth grand fir community.  There are also ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir forests in the RNA. The Icicle/Frosty Creek proposed RNA (N47˚39’ W120˚57’) is a valley with a western red cedar/hemlock forest. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail traverses the wilderness from south of Stevens Pass (N47˚43’ W121˚4’) 67 miles to Snoqualmie Pass (N47˚26’ W121˚24’).

Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness

Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness, Washington, is 153,000 acres, to the east of Stephen Mather Wilderness and including lands in the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests. The wilderness includes the Sawtooth Range and Twisp River, with 63 lakes. The northernmost point is near McKinney Mountain (N48˚32’ W120˚25’), the easternmost point is on the South Fork Libby Creek (N48˚15’ W120˚18’), the southernmost point is at Point No Point on Lake Chelan (N48˚3’ W120˚25’), and the westernmost point is at Hock Mountain (N48˚27’ W120˚40’). Wolf Creek (N48˚29’ W120˚24’) in the wilderness west of Winthrop is considered eligible for the national wild and scenic river system.

Glacier Peak Wilderness

Glacier Peak Wilderness, Mount Baker and Wenatchee National Forests, Washington, is 566,000 acres, bordered by the Stephen Mather Wilderness (North Cascades National Park) to the north and Henry M. Jackson Wilderness to the south. The wilderness touches Chelan Lake on the east. Glacier Peak (N48˚7’ W121˚7’) is 10,541 feet in elevation and a volcano. There are 200 lakes and granite cliffs as high as 1,000 feet. There are 450 miles of trails. Places in the wilderness east of the 121st meridian include Glory Lake (N48˚26’ W120˚58’), Tolo Mountain (N48˚24’ W120˚54’), Flora Mountain (N48˚15’ W120˚42’), Bonanza Peak (N48˚14’ W120˚53’), Domke Falls (N48˚10’ W120˚33’), Estes Butte (N48˚1’ W120˚47’), Schaefer Lake (N47˚58’ W120˚51’), Twin Lakes (N47˚55’ W120˚51’), White River Falls (N47˚57’ W120˚56’), Irving Peak (N47˚54’ W121˚0’), and Clark Mountain (N48˚3’ W120˚58’). The Pacific Crest NST follows Agnes Creek and South Fork Agnes Creek south to Suiattle Pass in the wilderness. The Chiwawa River, a tributary of the Wenatchee River, is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system from its headwaters in Glacier Peak Wilderness (N48˚9’ W120˚54’) downstream to the wilderness boundary (N48˚5’ W120˚52’) and continuing into the Wenatchee NF to the confluence with the Wenatchee River. Rock Creek (N48˚1’ W120˚46’), a tributary to the Chiwawa River, is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system. The White River is eligible from its headwaters in Glacier Peak Wilderness (N48˚2’ W121˚8’ downstream to Wenatchee lake (N47˚50’ W120˚49’) and its tributary, the Napeequa River, is eligible from its headwaters near Butterfly Glacier (N48˚5’ W121˚0’) to its confluence with the White River (N47˚55’ W120˚54’). The Entiat River is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system from its headwaters near Entiat Glacier (N48˚9’ W120˚47’) downstream to the wilderness boundary (N48˚4’ W120˚42’).

Stephen Mather Wilderness

Stephen Mather Wilderness, Washington, is 634,000 acres and overlays parts of the North Cascades, Lake Chelan, and Ross Lake units of the national park system. The wilderness borders Pasayten Wilderness to the east, Glacier Peak wilderness to the southwest, and Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness in the map area, and Mount Baker and Noisy-Diobsud Wildernesses to the west of the map area. East of the 121st meridian, all of North Cascades National Park except for the Stehekin River corridor between Cottonwood Camp (N48˚27’ W121˚0’) and Agnes Creek (N48˚23’ W120˚50’) is within the wilderness. Places in the wilderness in North Cascades National Park include Agnes Gorge (N48˚22’ W120˚51’), Rimrock Ridge (N48˚24’ W120˚57’), Mount Logan (N48˚32’ W120˚57’), Elijah Ridge (N48˚39’ W120˚58’), Katsok Peak (N48˚35’ W120˚53’), Corteo Peak (N48˚30’ W120˚47’), Twisp Mountain (N48˚28’ W120˚39’), and McGregor Mountain (N48˚25’ W120˚8’). Boston Glacier RNA (N48˚30’ W121˚0’) is 3,000 acres including a cirque at the head of Skagit Queen Creek. Boston Glacier is the largest cirque glacier in the North Cascades. Surrounding the glacier are forests of subalpine fir and Larix. The Pacific Crest NST passes through the southern portion of the wilderness between Bridge Creek (N48˚29’ W120˚42’) and Stehekin River (N48˚26’ W120˚52’). All of the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area except the shoreline of Lake Chelan and the Stehekin River corridor are within the wilderness. Places in the wilderness in Lake Chelan National Recreation area include Hock Mountain (N48˚27’ W120˚40’), Camels Hump (N48˚22’ W120˚34’), Twin Peaks (N48˚17’ W120˚33’), Castle Rock (N48˚15’ W120˚42’), Battalion Lake (N48˚21’ W120˚47’), and Coon Lake (N48˚23’ W120˚50’). All of Ross Lake National Recreation Area except for the shoreline of Ross Lake is within the wilderness. Places in Ross Lake NRA within the wilderness east of the 121st meridian include Panther Creek (N48˚42’ W120˚59’) and Lightning Creek (N48˚54’ W120˚59’). The Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail crosses the wilderness in the Ruby Creek area (N48˚42’ W120˚59’).

Pasayten Wilderness

Pasayten Wilderness, Mount Baker and Okanogan National Forests, Washington, is 531,000 acres and bordered by the Stephen Mather Wilderness (Ross Lake National Recreation Area) on the west, the international border with Canada on the north, and Loomis State Forest on the east. The southern boundary includes lands in the Okanogan National Forest. The northwestern edge is north of Hozoneen Mountain (N49˚0’ W121˚1’), the northeastern portion is at Goodenough Peak (N48˚59’ W119˚53’), the southeastern portion is at Middle Fork Camp (N48˚53’ W119˚54’), and the southwestern area is at Crater Mountain (N48˚44’ W120˚55’). The wilderness is known for the largest population of lynx in the 48 contiguous states, has 150 peaks over 7,500 feet, sheer-walled canyons, and plateaus. There are 600 miles of trails. Places in the wilderness include Hells Hole (N48˚57’ W119˚52’), Chewuch Falls (N48˚52’ W120˚1’), Lost River Gorge (N48˚44’ W120˚27’), Last Chance Point (N48˚41’ W120˚34’), Nohokomeen Glacier (N48˚47’ W120˚58’), West Fork Pasayten River (N48˚56’ W120˚37’), and Remmel Mountain (N48˚55’ W120˚12’). The Pacific Crest NST follows the ridgeline through the wilderness from Harts Pass north to the Canadian border. The Pacific Northwest NST crosses the wilderness from west to east, passing Dry Creek Pass, Deception Pass, Devils Stairway, Frosty Pass, Bunker Hill, Peeve Pass, Cathedral Pass, Teapot Dome, Rock Mountain, and Goodenough Peak. The Chewuch River from its headwaters (N48˚57’ W120˚10’) downstream to the wilderness boundary (N48˚50’ W120˚1’) is considered eligible for the national wild and scenic river system.

National Fish Hatcheries

The National Fish Hatchery system in the Cascades Mountains leeward forests includes two sites. Entiat National Fish Hatchery, Washington (47˚42’ W120˚19’) is seven miles west of Entiat on the Entiat River.  It produces salmon for use in the Columbia River fisheries management plan. Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery, Washington (N47˚33’ W120˚40’) is two miles south of Leavenworth on Icicle Creek. It produces Chinook salmon and steelhead for use in the Columbia River fisheries management plan. The Icicle Creek NRT (see) is on the facility grounds. The fish hatchery includes 700 acres of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness surrounding Snow and Nada Lakes. An underground pipe and tunnel from the bottom of Snow Lake to Nada Lake provides water to Nada Lake when cold water is needed at the hatchery. The cold water then flows downstream to Icicle Creek and the fish hatchery.

National System of Public Lands

The National System of Public Lands in the Cascades Mountains leeward forests includes the Chopaka Lake Recreation Area and Chopaka Mountain Wilderness Study Area, Washington (N48˚57’ W119˚44’), an aspen-sagebrush-bordered lake and forested mountain between Loomis and the British Columbia border. The area is known for spring wildflowers.

State and Provincial

State, provincial and local sites in the Cascades Mountains leeward forests includes 19 sites.

Brent Mountain Protected Area, British Columbia (N49˚28’ W119˚54’) is a 4,344-ha high elevation alpine and subalpine area with krummholz vegetation. It is west of Penticton off of Route 97 via Apex Mountain Road.

Camas Meadows Natural Area Preserve, Washington (N47˚28’ W120˚34’) is west of Cashmere off US Route 97. The largest known population of the Wenatchee Mountains checker mallow and the Wenatchee Larkspur are found in a large flat meadow surrounded by the Wenatchee Mountains.

Cascade Recreation Area, British Columbia (N49˚18’ W120˚56’), is a backcountry area at the headwaters of the Tulameen River north of E.C. Manning Provincial Park. Vegetation is mountain hemlock.

Cathedral Provincial Park and Protected Area, British Columbia (N49˚4’ W120˚12’) is a 33,300-ha wilderness park on the Washington State border, adjoining Pasayten Wilderness on the south. Access is from Route 3 via the Ashnola Valley. The core area contains six lakes, including a lodge on Quiniscoe Lake. There are three maintained hiking trails.  The Centennial Trail continues west to E.C. Manning Provincial Park and east to the Snowy Protected Area.

Chelan Wildlife Area, Washington, includes one unit in the Cascades Mountains Leeward forests.  White River Unit (N47˚53’ W120˚52’) includes scattered tracts along the White River upstream from Lake Wenatchee and surrounded by the Wenatchee NF.

Conconully State Park, Washington (N48º33’ W119º45’) is an 81-acre reservoir recreation area on the Bureau of Reclamation’s Conconully Reservoir.

Coquihalla Summit Recreation Area, British Columbia (N49˚38’ W121˚0’), is a 5,700-ha hiking and camping area on the Coquihalla Highway (Route 5), located in the transition zone between coastal and dry interior forest.

Keremeos Columns Provincial Park, British Columbia (N49˚15’ W119˚7’) is northeast of Keremeos off of Route 3A. The hexagonal basalt columns rise out of a Douglas-fir forest and are viewed by a hike across sagebrush grasslands on private property. The columns are on private land and are not within the park.

Loomis Natural Resources Conservation Area, Washington, consists of two blocks totaling 24,700 acres in area and lying mostly above 5,000 feet in elevation. The montane habitats are Douglas-fir and lodgepole pine with aspen and shrub-steppe.  The North Block (N48˚53’ W119˚46’) is west of Loomis via Touts Coulee Road and adjoins the Pasayten Wilderness and Snowy Protected Area.  The South Block (N48˚42’ W119˚53’) is north of Conconully on Forest Highway 13.

E. C. Manning Provincial Park, British Columbia extends along Route 3 for 58 km between Hope and Princeton (from the Sumallo River in the west (N49˚15’ W121˚7’) to the Similkameen River in the east (N49˚8’ W120˚41’)). The hiking and camping park includes the northern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail near Route 3 (N49˚4’ W120˚49’). Vegetation ranges from coastal western hemlock with stands of Pacific rhododendron to Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir throughout most of the area along Route 3 to drier Douglas-fir in the east. It is part of the Sumallo River/Skagit Valley Important Bird Area, harboring the northern spotted owl. The park adjoins the Pasayten Wilderness on the south.

Nickel Plate Provincial Park, British Columbia (N49˚24’ W119˚57’), is at the north end of a glaciated lake and is dotted with large boulders, glacial erratics left behind when the ice melted. It is west of Penticton off Route 3A.

Peshastin Pinnacles State Park, Washington (N47º33’ W120º31’) overlooks the Wenatchee River with 200-foot-high sandstone spires.  There is a one mile trail.

Scotch Creek Wildlife Area, Washington, consists of five units in the Okanogan River watershed.  Mineral Hill Unit (N48˚33’ W119˚48’) is west of Conconully adjoining the Okanogan National Forest in the eastern Cascade forests ecoregion.  The 920 acres is along the West Fork Salmon Creek and is a bunchgrass-ponderosa pine forest.

Snowy Protected Area, British Columbia (N49˚4’ W119˚56’) is a 26,000-ha wilderness area to the east of Cathedral Provincial park and north of Pasayten Wilderness and Loomis Natural Resources Conservation Area. Access is from the Ashnola Valley south of Route 3, via the Ewart Creek Trail. Vegetation ranges from dry grassland to alpine meadows. A population of California bighorn sheep is protected.

Squilchuck State Park, Washington (N47º19’ W120º22’) is a 300-acre fir and ponderosa pine forest eight miles south of Wenatchee, with ten miles of trails.

Teanaway Community Forest, Washington (N47˚15’ W120˚54’) is a 50,300-acre tract north of Cle Elum on both sides of the Teanaway River. The state-owned area is managed by a community advisory committee to provide for both forest products and recreation.

Twenty Five Mile Creek State Park, Washington (N47º59’ W120º16’) is a lakeside recreation area on Lake Chelan. The area includes hiking trails on the creek.

Lake Wenatchee State Park, Washington (N47º49’ W120º44’) is at the outlet of a glacial lake and surrounded by the Wenatchee NF. There are eight miles of trails.

Whipsaw Creek Ecological Reserve, British Columbia (N49˚23’ W120˚36’) contains stands of ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir interspersed with grasslands of sagebrush-bluegrass. It is located 10 km south of Princeton off of Route 3.

 

Cascades Mountains Leeward Forests, Part A: National Parks, Forests, Lakes, and Trails

Part A. Cascades Mountains leeward forests (NA 507)

The eastern slope of the Cascades includes four ecoregions, from the Sierra Nevada to the British Columbia coastal forests. This section will be expanded more in the future by inclusion of sites to the west of the 121st meridian and to the north of the 50th parallel.

Part of the temperate coniferous forests biome, the Cascades Mountains leeward forests are in the rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains. From the tops of the mountains to the valleys to the east is a strong rain shadow. At higher elevations are moister forests of lodgepole pine and aspen, which become a sparse pine-wheatgrass-sagebrush vegetation type at lower elevations.

The National Forest system in the Cascades Mountains leeward forests includes four areas. Entiat Experimental Forest, Washington (N47˚57’ W120˚28’), is a 4,600-acre ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir forest research site on the effects of road building and timber harvesting on water quality, quantity, and the timing of discharge.  The forest consists of three adjacent watersheds in the Chelan Mountains.  The entire watershed was burned in 1970, and research shifted to the effects of fire on hydrology until being halted in 1977.

Mount Baker NF, Washington, is 1.3 million acres mostly west of the Cascades. The portion of the forest along State Route 20 (North Cascades Highway) and east of the Ross Lake National Recreation Area is described here (N48˚43’ W120˚55). The Pacific Crest Trail follows the eastern boundary of the forest east of North Cascades NP in a portion administered by the Okanogan-Wenatchee NF. The Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail also crosses the forest east of Ross Lake National Recreation Area in the Pasayten Wilderness, passing Dry Creek Pass, Deception Pass, and Devils Stairway.

Okanogan NF, Washington, is 1.5 million acres. The portion of the forest west of the Okanogan River is in the Cascade Mountains leeward forests. Within the Cascade Mountains, the northernmost point is the Canadian border in the Pasayten Wilderness.  Outside of the wilderness, the northernmost point is the Fourteenmile Recreation Site west of Loomis (N48˚35’ W119˚50’), the southernmost point is on Washington Creek north of Chelan (N47˚58’ W120˚2’), the easternmost point is on Schalow Mountain near Conconully (N48˚35’ W119˚40’), and the westernmost point is at Mebee Pass (N48˚37’ W120˚47’). The Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail crosses the Pasayten Wilderness in the northwestern portion of the forest. East of the Okanagan River, the trail passes Whistler Canyon, Haley Canyon, Highlands Snowpark, Bonaparte Lake, Cougar Creek, Clackamas Mountain, Sweat Creek, Deep Creek before heading east into the Colville NF.

North of the Methow Valley near Tiffany Mountain, Roger Lake RNA (N48˚39’ W119˚58’) is a subalpine fir and sedge-dominated wetland with open meadows on Forest Highway 39. The Chewuch River RNA (N48˚47’ W120˚4’) is 8,560 acres in the Chewuch River gorge adjacent to the Pasayten Wilderness. It is an area where prehistoric rockslides blocked the river.  There are seep areas and river areas with mountain alder, quaking aspen, and Pacific willow while the slopes are of Douglas fir forest. The Chewuch River is considered eligible for the national wild and scenic river system from its headwaters in the Pasayten Wilderness through the Chewuch RNA to the national forest boundary (N48˚35’ W120˚10’).

To the west of the Methow Valley and west of Winthrop, the Wolf Creek RNA (N48˚29’ W120˚17’) is a bitterbrush-bunchgrass grassland with scattered ponderosa pines. Wolf Creek is considered eligible for the national wild and scenic river system.

Wenatchee NF, Washington, is 1.7 million acres. The portion of the forest north of the Yakima River is in the Cascade Mountains leeward forests. The northernmost point is at Washington Pass on State Route 20 (N48˚32’ W120˚34’), the easternmost point is in Bigalow Canyon near Chelan (N47˚55’ W119˚58’), the southernmost point is on Manastash Ridge west of Ellensburg (N46˚59’ W120˚54’), and the westernmost point is at Silver Peak south of I-90 at Snoqualmie Pass (N47˚22’ W121˚28’). Vegetation ranges from grassland at low elevations to ponderosa pine open forests to pine-Douglas fir-larch to alpine meadows. Precipitation ranges from 140 inches per year at the Cascade divide to 10 inches near the Columbia River.

In the Chelan Mountains north of Ardenvoir is the Gene Creek Botanical Area (N47˚48’ W120˚21’), an old growth ponderosa pine forest ecosystem. The Lake Creek Botanical Area (N47˚59’ W120˚28’) is an area of wetlands in the Chelan Mountains, draining to the Entiat River. The Hornet Ridge Botanical Area (N47˚47’ W120˚29’) is also an old growth ponderosa pine forest in the Mad River watershed upstream from Ardenvoir.

Upstream from Leavenworth in the Tumwater Canyon is Tumwater Botanical Area (N47˚37’ W120˚43’), established to protect Cistanthe tweedyi, Tweedy’s pussypaws. The Camas Botanical Area (47˚26’ W120˚35’) is the location of a population of Delphinium viridescens, Wenatchee larkspur. It is south of Leavenworth and east of US Route 97. North of Wenatchee Lake is the Fish Lake Bog RNA (N47˚50’ W120˚42’), a floating bog representing eastern Cascade bogs in the natural areas system.

The Wenatchee River from the Wenatchee Lake outlet (N47˚48’ W120˚43’) downstream through Tumwater Canyon to Leavenworth (N47˚35’ W120˚40’) is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system. Icicle Creek, a tributary of the Wenatchee River, from its headwaters (N47˚45’ W121˚3’) to the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery (N47˚33’ W120˚43’) is eligible for the national wild and scenic rivers system. The Chiwawa River, a tributary of the Wenatchee River, is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system from its headwaters in Glacier Peak Wilderness (N48˚9’ W120˚54’) downstream to its confluence with the Wenatchee River (N47˚47’ W120˚40’). Rock Creek (N48˚1’ W120˚46’) and Raging Creek (N47˚56’ W120˚49’), both tributaries to the Chiwawa River, are eligible for the national wild and scenic river system. Nason Creek, another tributary to the Wenatchee River, is also considered eligible for the wild and scenic rivers system.  Its headwaters are near Stevens Pass (N47˚46’ W121˚5’) and its confluence with the Wenatchee is at the Lake Wenatchee outlet (N47˚48’ W120˚45’).

Upstream of Lake Wenatchee, the Little Wenatchee River (N47˚50’ W120˚53’) is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system. The White River is eligible from its headwaters in Glacier Peak Wilderness (N48˚2’ W121˚8’ downstream to the lake (N47˚50’ W120˚49’) and its tributary, the Napeequa River, is eligible from its headwaters near Butterfly Glacier (N48˚5’ W121˚0’) to its confluence with the White River (N47˚55’ W120˚54’).

The Entiat River is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system from its headwaters near Entiat Glacier (N48˚9’ W120˚47’) downstream to the forest boundary at river mile 20 (N47˚51’ W120˚25’). The Mad River, a tributary of the Entiat River, is also eligible from its headwaters at Mad Meadow (N47˚56’ W120˚39’) to Ardenvoir (N47˚44’ W120˚23’).

The portion of the forest along State Route 20 between Washington Pass and Rainy Pass (N48˚30’ W120˚40’) is the route of the Pacific Crest NST.

To the north of I-90, the Eldorado Creek RNA (N47˚25’ W120˚55’) along the North Fork Teanaway River is a 1,150-acre serpentine barrens area; trees include Pacific silver fir and grand fir.

The National Park System in the Cascades Mountains leeward forests includes three areas, North Cascades National Park, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, and Ross Lake National Recreation Area. North Cascades NP, Washington, is 501,000 acres known for the largest number of glaciers in the US outside of Alaska (300), alpine peaks, and rainforests. A part of the southern unit of the park is in the map area and includes Fisher Creek trail to Easy Pass, Stehekin River, Bridge Creek, and Mount Logan (N48˚32’ W120˚57’) in the eastern Cascades forests ecoregion. East of the 121st meridian, all of North Cascades National Park except for the Stehekin River corridor between Cottonwood Camp (N48˚27’ W121˚0’) and Agnes Creek (N48˚23’ W120˚50’) is within the Stephen Mather Wilderness, described separately. The Stehekin River in the park is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system.

Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, Washington, is 62,900 acres accessible by a ferry ride from Chelan, private boat, or by float plane. The upper end of Lake Chelan, the Stehekin River, and Boulder Creek are within the NRA. The Golden West Visitor Center is located at the ferry terminal (N48˚19’ W120˚39’). There are 11 miles of trails, including a loop through the Buckner Orchard, a historic apple orchard. There is a shuttle to several trailheads. All of the NRA except the shoreline of Lake Chelan and the Stehekin River corridor are within the Stephen Mather Wilderness, described separately. The Pacific Crest national Scenic Trail follows Agnes Gorge in the park. The Stehekin River in the park is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system.

Ross Lake National Recreation Area, Washington, is 117,000 acres surrounding hydroelectric reservoirs along the Skagit River. All of the National Recreation Area except the shoreline of Ross Lake and the State Route 20 corridor are within the Stephen Mather Wilderness, described separately. The mountains to the east of Ross Lake are within this ecoregion, including the Lightning Creek Trail area (N48˚53’ W120˚58’) which provides access to the northern portions of Ross Lake in British Columbia. The Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail crosses the area in the Ruby Creek area (N48˚42’ W120˚59’).

Recreation Lakes in the Cascades Mountains leeward forests include five facilities that are federally operated or licensed. Lake Chelan, Chelan County Public Utility District, Washington, is a hydroelectric facility that impounds a reservoir more than 50 miles long. The dam is located at Chelan (N47˚50’ W120˚0’). A passenger ferry runs the length of the lake to Stehekin (N48˚19’ W120˚39’). The lake is bordered by the Wenatchee NF, Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness, Glacier Peak Wilderness, and Lake Chelan NRA.

Conconully Dam and Reservoir, Bureau of Reclamation, Washington (N48º32’ W119º45’), is part of the Okanogan Project, providing irrigation for apple orchards in the Okanogan area. The reservoir is on Salmon Creek downstream of Conconully.

Salmon Creek Diversion Dam, Bureau of Reclamation, Washington (N48˚24’ W119˚37’) is 12 miles downstream of Conconully Dam on Salmon Creek. Water is diverted into the Main irrigation canal to serve farms in the Okanogan area.

Snow Lake Reservoir and Tunnel, Bureau of Reclamation, Washington, is described below under Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery.

Salmon Lake Dam and Conconully Lake, Bureau of Reclamation, Washington (N48˚34’ W119˚45’) is upstream of Conconully and stores water as part of the Okanogan project. The reservoir is on Salmon Creek.

The National Trail System in the Cascades Mountains leeward forestsincludes two national scenic trails and ten national recreation trails. Pacific Crest NST passes, from north to south, through E.C. Manning Provincial Park, Pasayten Wilderness, Okanogan NF, Mount Baker NF, Wenatchee NF, North Cascades NP, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, and Glacier Peak Wilderness in this map area. The northern terminus is within E.C. Manning Provincial Park near Route 3 (N49˚4’ W120˚49’). Other road access is at Harts Pass (N48˚43’ W120˚40’) and Rainy Pass on SR 20 (N48˚31’ W120˚44’). In the North Cascades NP, the trail passes through the southern portion of the park along Bridge Creek and Stehekin River (N48˚26’ W120˚52’). In Lake Chelan NRA, the trail passes through the northwest corner at Agnes Gorge (N48˚22’ W120˚51’). In Glacier Peak Wilderness, the trail follows Agnes Creek and its South Fork to Suiattle Pass (N48˚12’ W120˚56’). The Pacific Crest and Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trails follow the same route between Castle Pass (N48˚57’ W120˚46’) and Holman Pass (N48˚50’ W120˚44’).

Pacific Northwest NST, Washington passes through Ross Lake NRA, Stephen Mather Wilderness, and the Pasayten Wilderness (Mount Baker NF and Okanogan NF), and Loomis State Forest in this ecoregion. The trail passes through the Ruby Creek area of Ross Lake NRA (N48˚42’ W120˚59’). Continuing east into the Pasayten Wilderness of Mount Baker NF, the trail passes Dry Creek Pass (N48˚50’ W120˚57’), Deception Pass (N48˚49’ W120˚48’), and Devils Stairway (N48˚55’ W120˚46’). Crossing into the Okanogan NF, the trail passes Frosty Pass (N48˚57’ W120˚46’), Pasayten River (N48˚58’ W120˚34’), Bunker Hill (N48˚59’ W120˚29’), Peeve Pass (N48˚58’ W120˚23’), Cathedral Pass (N48˚59’ W120˚11’), Teapot Dome (N48˚58’ W120˚3’), Rock Mountain (N48˚59’ W119˚57’), and Goodenough Peak (N48˚58’ W119˚52’). The trail passes the Chopaka Lake area of Loomis Natural Resources Conservation Area (N48˚54’ W119˚42’), then Palmer Lake (N48˚54’ W119˚37’), then descends into the Palouse Prairie at Oroville (N48˚56’ W119˚26’).

Blue Lake NRT, Wenatchee National Forest, Washington (N48˚30’ W120˚40’) is a 2.2-mile trail at Washington Pass on State Route 20 west of Winthrop. The trail leads through a larch forest near the lake. This portion of the Wenatchee NF is administered by the Okanogan NF.

Cedar Creek NRT, Okanogan NF, Washington (N48˚33’ W120˚29’), winds for ten miles south of State Route 20 west of Winthrop, passing the Cedar Creek Falls on the way to Abernathy Pass and the Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness.

Cutthroat Creek NRT, Okanogan NF, Washington (N48˚32’ W120˚41’) is at the end of Forest Road 400 off State Route 20 west of Winthrop. The five-mile trail passes huge boulders on the way to Cutthroat Lake in a cirque, then connects with the Pacific Crest NST.

Domke Lake NRT, Wenatchee NF, Washington (N48˚11’ W120˚34’) is accessed from Lucerne on the south shore of Lake Chelan. The three-mile trail climbs Domke Mountain.

Eagle Lake NRT, Okanogan NF, Washington (N48˚13’ W120˚20’) begins on Forest Road 4340-300 off the North Fork Gold Creek south of Twisp and climbs to Horsehead Pass in seven miles, passing Eagle Lake and providing views of the Columbia Valley in a sparsely forested area.

Icicle Creek Nature NRT, Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery, Washington (N48˚33’ W120˚40’), is a one-mile trail with wildlife viewing and views of salmon habitat in Icicle Creek. It is two miles south of the town of Leavenworth.

Iron Horse State Park, Washington, is a rail-trail also designated as the John Wayne Pioneer NRT.  It extends from Cedar Falls (south of North Bend near Seattle) to Beverly Junction (N46˚49’ W119˚57’) on the Columbia River, passing South Clay Elum (N47˚12’ W120˚56’), Thorp (N47˚3’ W120˚40’), Ellensburg (N47˚0’ W120˚33’), Kittitas (N46˚59’ W120˚25’), and Army West (N46˚57’ W120˚18’) trailheads.  Future extensions will be to the Idaho border at Tekoa.

Rainy Lake NRT, Wenatchee NF, Washington (N48˚30’ W120˚44’), is a short ¼ mile trail from State Route 20 to Rainy Lake, which features waterfalls cascading into the lake. It is 35 miles west of Winthrop.

Silver Falls NRT, Wenatchee NF, Washington (N47˚58’ W120˚32’) is 30 miles northwest of Entiat at the Silver Falls Campground and extends 1.4 miles upstream to the falls.

Washington Pass Overlook NRT, Okanogan NF, Washington (N48˚32’ W120˚41’) is a ¼ mile trail to an overlook 700 feet above State Route 20 on the North Cascades highway.

Blue Mountains Forests, Part D: National System of Public Lands and Local Sites

Other federal sites in Blue Mountains forests are part of the National System of Public Lands.

Dry Mountain Research Natural Area (RNA), National System of Public Lands, Oregon (N43˚40’ W119˚36’) is 2,100 acres on an isolated mountain overlooking the Snake-Columbia shrub-steppe ecoregion. Vegetation is big sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass and mountain mahogany-bunchgrass.

Forest Creek-Fox Canyon RNA, National System of Public Lands, Oregon (N44˚15’ W120˚7’) is a 130-acre ponderosa pine-mountain alder forest adjacent to the Crooked River.

Forest Creek-Rough Canyon RNA, National System of Public Lands, Oregon (N44˚13’ W120˚9’) is a 240-acre ponderosa pine-mountain alder forest adjacent to the Crooked River.

Homestead Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), National System of Public Lands, Oregon (N45˚0’ W116˚53’) is on the Snake River north of Oxbow Dam.

Hunt Mountain ACEC, National System of Public Lands, Oregon (N44˚52’ W118˚4’) is a forested mountain with rare plants.

Keating Riparian RNA and ACEC, National System of Public Lands, Oregon (N44˚55’ W117˚29’) is 2,000 acres on Balm, Clover and Sawmill Creeks.

Oregon Trail ACEC, National System of Public Lands, Oregon, protects seven areas with remnant Oregon Trail crossings:

  • Blue Mountain (N45˚25’ W118˚20’)
  • Flagstaff Hill (N44˚49’ W117˚44’) is the location of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.
  • Powell Creek (N44˚27’ W117˚19’) is east of I-84 and south of Chimney Creek
  • Straw Ranch 1 (N44˚40’ W117˚35’) is on I-84 at Alder Creek and Straw Ranch Creek
  • Straw Ranch 2 (N44˚42’ W117˚36’) is north of Straw Ranch1 along Straw Ranch Creek
  • White Swan (N44˚45’ W117˚39’) is east of I-84

Sheep Mountain ACEC, National System of Public Lands, Oregon (N44˚55’ W116˚52’) is on the Snake River south of Oxbow Dam.

South Fork Walla Walla ACEC, National System of Public Lands, Oregon (N45˚50’ W118˚10’) is 2,000 acres east of Milton-Freewater and adjacent to the Umatilla NF.

North Ridge Bully Creek RNA, National System of Public Lands, Oregon (N44˚7’ W117˚53’) and South Ridge Bully Creek RNA, National System of Public Lands, Oregon (N44˚4’ W117˚48’) were established to provide representative big sagebrush-needlegrass communities in the Cottonwood Mountain area.

Silver Creek RNA, National System of Public Lands, Oregon (N43˚45’ W119˚38’) is a 1,900-acre ponderosa pine-pinegrass community adjacent to the Ochoco NF north of the Harney Basin. It is accessed from Forest Highway 45.

State and local sites in Blue Mountains forests include 29 sites. Emigrant Springs State Heritage Area, Oregon, and Hilgard Junction State Recreation Area, Oregon, were described previously as Oregon National Historic Trail sites. Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site, Oregon, was described previously under National Historic Landmarks.

Battle Mountain Forest State Scenic Corridor, Oregon (N45˚16’ W118˚58’), is 400 acres on US 395 north of Ukiah. This is the site of battles between tribes and settlers.

Bates State Park, Oregon (N44˚35’ W118˚31’) is at the site of a former lumber mill on the Middle Fork John Day River. It is located on State Route 7 about one mile north of US Route 26. There are three miles of trails.

Blue Mountain Forest State Scenic Corridor, Oregon, extends from the Glover Interchange on I-84, mile 248 (N45˚22’ W118˚18’) to Deadman Pass on I-84, exit 230 (N45˚30’ W118˚25’) along old US Route 30, passing the approximate location of the Oregon National Historic Trail.

Bridge Creek Wildlife Area, Oregon (N45˚3’ W118˚6’) is on Forest Highway 52 (Blue Mountain Scenic Byway) four miles south of Ukiah. It is a wintering area for elk and mule deer.

Catherine Creek State Park, Oregon (N45˚9’ W117˚44’), is on State Route 203 at the western edge of the Whitman NF in the Wallowa Mountains. There is a campground and hiking trail.

Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area, Idaho (N45˚56’ W116˚48’) is 78,000 acres occupying much of the area along the Snake River between Lewiston and the Salmon River.  It provides overviews of the Snake River canyon from mountain lookouts and is an elk mitigation area for Dworshak Reservoir.

John Day State Scenic Waterway, Oregon, includes the portions designated as a national wild and scenic river (see), and in addition includes the river from Service Creek at River Mile 147 (N44˚48’ W120˚0’) upstream to Parrish Creek at River Mile 169 (N44˚50’ W119˚49’) near Spray. State Route 19-207 parallels the river.

Elkhorn Wildlife Area, Oregon (N45˚2’ W118˚5’) is an elk and mule deer wintering area located nine miles west of I-84, exit 285 on the North Powder River.

Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area, Oregon (N45˚16’ W118˚2’) is at La Grande off of I-84, exit 268. The site is a bulrush marsh and migratory waterfowl area at the foot of the Blue Mountains.

Middle Fork John Day State Scenic Waterway, Oregon, includes the Middle Fork from its confluence with the North Fork (N44˚55’ W119˚18’) upstream to River Mile 71 in the Malheur National Forest (N44˚36’ W118˚27’), including Ritter Hot Springs (N44˚53’ W119˚8’).

North Fork John Day State Scenic Waterway, Oregon, includes the river from River Mile 20 near Monument (N44˚52’ W119˚24’) upstream to River Mile 76 in the Umatilla National Forest near the North Fork John Day Wilderness (N44˚58’ W119˚0’). The segment from Camas Creek at River Mile 57 upstream is also designated as the North Fork John Day National Wild and Scenic River (see description).

Fields Springs State Park, Washington (N46º5’ W117º11’) is on the boundary between the Palouse Prairie and Blue Mountains.  Seven miles of trails offer panoramic views of Hells Canyon and the Wallowa Mountains.

Grouse Flats Unit, Chief Joseph Wildlife Management Area, Washington (N46˚1’ W117˚29’) is a 640-acre open meadow area managed for elk and deer just south of the Umatilla NF.

Clyde Holliday State Recreation Site, Oregon (N44˚25’ W119˚5’) is a roadside campground on US 26-395 beside the John Day River, located west of the town of John Day. There is a nature trail along the John Day River.

Minum State Recreation Area, Oregon (N45˚38’ W117˚44’), on State Route 82 east of Elgin, includes a portion of the Wallowa River, a unit of the national wild and scenic river system, and a riverside hiking trail.

Prineville Reservoir State Park and Wildlife Management Area, Oregon (N44˚8’ W120˚44’) are south of Prineville via county roads. The state park consists of two units separated by three miles on the north side of the Bureau of Reclamation reservoir, with a lakeside trail on one of the units.

Red Bridge State Wayside, Oregon (N45˚17’ W118˚20’) is on State Route 244 on the Grande Ronde River.

Phillip W. Schneider Wildlife Area, Oregon (N44˚20’ W119˚30’) is along the South Fork John Day River at Dayville and provides access to a variety of riparian, shrub-steppe, and forested habitats between the Ochoco and Malheur national forests.

Sumpter Valley Dredge State Heritage Area, Oregon (N44˚44’ W118˚12’) is west of Baker City off of State Route 7. This five-story, 1,240-ton, 52-foot-wide dredge plowed up gravel along the floodplain of the Powder River and extracted $4.5 million in gold between 1935 and 1954. There are miles of tailings along the river valley. Trails wind among dredge ponds.

Ukiah-Dale Forest State Scenic Corridor, Oregon, stretches 15 miles along Camas Creek and the North Fork John Day River on US 395 from near Ukiah (N45˚8’ W118˚58’) south to Dale (N45˚0’ W118˚57’)..

Unity Forest State Scenic Corridor, Oregon (N44˚34’ W117˚0’), was acquired to protect a forested corridor along State Route 245 near Dooley Mountain summit south of Baker City.

Unity Lake State Recreation Site, Oregon (N44˚30’ W118˚11’) is a reservoir recreation area with trails on a Bureau of Reclamation reservoir south of Baker City.

Wallowa Lake Highway Forest State Scenic Corridor, Oregon (N45˚37’ W117˚41’) is a four-mile-long canyon of the Wallowa River along State Route 82 east of Minum. Wallowa River Wayside, Oregon (N45˚36’ W117˚37’) is on State Route 82 at the east end of the Wallowa River canyon near the town of Wallowa.

Wallowa Lake State Park, Oregon (N45˚17’ W117˚13’), is 216 acres and features a campground and marina on Wallowa Lake. The Little Alps picnic area is adjacent to trailheads for the Eagle Cap Wilderness (see).

Wenaha Wildlife Area, Oregon (N45˚55’ W117˚30’) is 12,000 acres on Eden Bench overlooking the Grande Ronde River at Troy. The area hosts migratory waterfowl, elk, deer, and bighorn sheep.

Private sites in the Blue Mountain forests include two Nature Conservancy preserves. Dunstan Homestead Preserve, The Nature Conservancy, Oregon (N44˚41’ W118˚44’), is 1,200 acres on Grant County Road 20 about 24 miles east of US Route 395 along the Middle Fork of the John Day River. It protects riparian habitat for wild salmon recovery. Juniper Hills Preserve, The Nature Conservancy, Oregon (N44˚9’ W120˚19’) is 14,000 acres off State Route 380 east of Prineville along the Crooked River at the Teaters Road junction. The acreage includes National System of Public Lands grazing allotments. It features ancient western junipers and native bunchgrass dispersed within painted hills formations.

Blue Mountains Forests, Part C: Wild Rivers and Wilderness

A Wild Chinook Run, the Matterhorn of Oregon, and Devil’s Tooth

Although open ponderosa pine forests are the signature vegetation type, the Blue Mountains ecoregion has a number of distinctive subregions, as described in Thorson et al. 2003. Maritime-influenced areas have a more diverse forest created by additional moisture that makes it through the Columbia Gorge and avoids some of the Cascade rain shadow effect. These occur in the peaks of the Seven Devils in Idaho, in the Wallowa Mountains, Strawberry Mountains, and in the Umatilla National Forest portions in Oregon and Washington.  The additional trees include grand fir, Douglas fir, and subalpine fir, along with shrubs. On the eastern slopes are irrigated valleys along the Power River below Baker City, Grande Ronde River below La Grande, and Wallowa River below Enterprise. At lower elevations on the west side of the mountains and in the John Day and Crooked River valleys are extensive foothills of sagebrush-grassland. On the east side in the rain shadow areas are also shrublands and bunchgrass vegetation. In the northeast are the deep canyons of the Snake, Imnaha, and Grande Ronde. Amid the dry forests of the western Blue Mountains, eight large cold basins allow large high wet meadows to form. These are:

  • Big Summit Prairie, 4,500 feet elevation (N44˚22’ W120˚12’)
  • Fox Valley, 4,400 feet elevation (N44˚36’ W119˚11’)
  • Bear Valley, 4,700 feet elevation (N44˚12’ W119˚3’)
  • Silvies Valley, 4,500 feet elevation (N43˚58’ W118˚57’)
  • Bridge Creek Flats, 4,000 feet elevation (N45˚2’ W118˚55’)
  • Ukiah, 3,400 feet elevation (N45˚8’ W118˚54’)
  • Logan Valley, 5,000 feet elevation (N44˚10’ W118˚38’)
  • Sumpter Valley, 4,200 feet elevation (N44˚42’ W118˚8’)

The National Wild and Scenic River System in Blue Mountains forests includes 19 rivers, reflecting the undisturbed nature of the waterways and the scenic canyon topography.

North Fork Crooked River, Ochoco National Forest and National System of Public Lands, Oregon, is a unit of the national wild and scenic river system for 34 miles from its source at Williams Prairie (N44˚16’ W120˚14’) downstream to Lookout Pasture (N44˚19’ W120˚14’) and from Big Summit Prairie (N44˚20’ W120˚9’) downstream to one mile from the confluence with the Crooked River (N44˚8’ W120˚14’). The eight miles of river through private land in Big Summit Prairie are not part of the designation. Downstream from Big Summit Prairie, the river flows through a deep canyon.

Eagle Creek, Eagle Cap Wilderness and Whitman NF, is a unit of the national wild and scenic river system from Eagle Lake (N45˚8’ W117˚20’) to the forest boundary (N44˚52’ W117˚14’). The river is noted for waterfalls and glacial features.

Grande Ronde River, National System of Public Lands, Umatilla National Forest, and Whitman National Forest, Oregon, is a wild and scenic river for 44 miles from the confluence with the Wallowa River (N45˚44’ W117˚47’) downstream to the Washington state line at river mile 39 (N46˚0’ W117˚23’) in the Palouse Prairie. It flows on the boundary between the Umatilla NF and Whitman NF between river miles 62 (N45˚52’ W117˚38’) and 80 (N45˚45’ W117˚47’).

John Day River, National System of Public Lands, Oregon, extends from River Mile 10 at Tumwater Falls (N45˚40’ W120˚30’) in the Palouse Prairie upstream to Service Creek.  The longest undammed river in the northwest is a wild and scenic river for 147.5 miles from Service Creek to Tumwater Falls, seven miles upstream of the Columbia River/Lake Umatilla.  Terrain is high desert canyons and vegetation is sagebrush. It is listed as a wild river for outstanding scenery, recreation, fish, wildlife, geology, paleontology, archaeology, and history.

Segment 3 of the wild and scenic river as described in the river management plan, from Clarno on State Route 218 (N44˚55’ W120˚28’) upstream to Service Creek at River Mile 157), is in the Blue Mountains forests ecoregion. Service Creek access site is in the Blue Mountains at the junction of State Routes 207 and 19 (N44˚48’ W120˚0’). This segment flows through the painted hills topography from Service Creek downstream to Cherry Creek at River Mile 130 (N44˚46’ W120˚23’).

North Fork John Day River, Umatilla and Whitman National Forests, Oregon, with 54 miles in the system, contains the largest remaining wild run of Chinook salmon and steelhead trout in the Columbia River basin. The river is designated from its headwaters in the Whitman NF in the North Fork John Day Wilderness (N44˚52’ W118˚14’) downstream to the confluence with Camas Creek on US Route 395 (N45˚1’ W119˚0’).

South Fork John Day River, National System of Public Lands, Oregon, extends from the confluence with the John Day River at Dayville (N44˚28’ W119˚32’) upstream to river mile 35 (N44˚8’ W119˚29’). The river was designated for outstanding fish, wildlife, and botanical values. The narrow canyon includes Izee Falls, which drops 55 feet, and a portion of the wild and scenic river is in the Black Canyon Wilderness (N44˚20’ W119˚34’).

Imnaha River, Eagle Cap Wilderness and Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, Oregon, is a wild and scenic river for 63 miles from the confluence of the North and South Fork (N45˚7’ W117˚8’) downstream to the Snake River. Its elevation drop is more than 7,000 feet.

South Fork Imnaha River, Eagle Cap Wilderness, Oregon, is a wild and scenic river for 14 miles from its headwaters to the confluence with the North Fork.

Lostine River, Eagle Cap Wilderness and Wallowa National Forest, Oregon, is designated as a wild and scenic river for 16 miles from its headwaters (N45˚12’ W117˚21’) downstream to the Wallowa National Forest boundary (N45˚24’ W117˚26’). Upper reaches are a U-shaped glaciated valley, while lower reaches are habitat for species of moonwart and twayblade.

Malheur River, Malheur NF, Oregon, is a unit of the wild and scenic river system for 14 miles from Bosenberg Creek (N44˚8’ W118˚37’) to the forest boundary (N44˚1’ W118˚32’). Malheur River NRT follows the river canyon for eight miles from Malheur Ford to Hog Flat.

North Fork Malheur River, Malheur NF, Oregon, is a unit of the national wild and scenic river system for 25 miles from its headwaters (N44˚22’ W118˚24’) to the forest boundary north of Beulah Reservoir (N44˚5’ W118˚18’). The river changes from a broad glaciated valley in the north to a deep canyon in the south. A trail follows the river through the canyon.

Minam River, Eagle Cap Wilderness, Wallowa and Whitman National Forests, Oregon, is designated a unit of the national wild and scenic river system for 42 miles from Minam Lake (N45˚11’ W117˚21’) downstream to the Eagle Cap Wilderness boundary (N45˚31’ W117˚42’). It is noted for its steep and glaciated upper reaches which transition to basalt canyons in the lower reaches. Reds Horse Ranch (N45˚21’ W117˚38’) is a historic site along the river.

North Powder River (N44˚55’ W118˚10’), Whitman NF, Oregon, is a unit of the national wild and scenic river system for six miles from its headwaters to the forest boundary. The river flows through an area of glaciated topography and is classified as scenic because there is road access to it from Haines.

Powder River, National System of Public Lands, Oregon, is designated as a unit of the national wild and scenic river system for 11 miles from Thief Valley Dam (N45˚0’ W117˚47’) downstream to the State Route 203 bridge (N44˚55’ W117˚40’). The river is managed as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern.

Rapid River, Nez Perce and Payette NF, Idaho, is designated a wild and scenic river from its headwaters (N45˚7’ W116˚30’) north to the Rapid River Fish Hatchery (N45˚21’ W116˚24’). Trails follow the river for its entire length.

Rapid River, West Fork, Nez Perce NF, Idaho, is designated a wild and scenic river for its entire length from the junction with the Rapid River (N45˚18’ W116˚25’) west to its headwaters (N45˚16’ W116˚32’).Trails follow the river for its entire length.

Snake River, Hells Canyon NRA, Idaho, is designated a wild river from Hells Canyon Dam at Snake River Mile 247 downstream to Pittsburg Landing at Snake River Mile 216 (N45˚37’ W116˚28’); and a scenic river from Pittsburg Landing downstream to Snake River Mile 180 near the Washington-Oregon border (N45˚57’ W116˚53’).

Wallowa River, National System of Public Lands and state of Oregon, is a unit of the national wild and scenic river system from Minam State Recreation Area on State Route 82 (N45˚37’ W117˚43’) downstream for ten miles to the confluence with the Grande Ronde River (N45˚37’ W117˚43’).

Wenaha River, Umatilla National Forest and Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness, Oregon, is designated as a wild and scenic river for 22 miles from Wenaha Forks (N45˚57’ W117˚48’) in the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness downstream to the confluence with the Grande Ronde River at Troy (N45˚57’ W117˚27’). Basalt cliffs rise 1,600 feet on both sides of the river canyon.

The National Wilderness Preservation System in the Blue Mountain forests includes ten designations, one of which, the North Fork John Day Wilderness, has four discrete areas.

Black Canyon Wilderness, Ochoco National Forest, Oregon (N44˚20’ W119˚40’), is 13,000 acres with 18 miles of trails, including one through Black Canyon, offering views of a cliff-lined river gorge. Vegetation is ponderosa pine. Wolf Mountain, Bear Skull Mountain, Princess Ridge, Owl Creek Meadow, and a section of the South Fork John Day River are within the wilderness.

Bridge Creek Wilderness, Ochoco National Forest, Oregon (N44˚29’ W120˚14’), is 5,400 acres including two meadow-filled plateaus and a 600-foot cliff face which provides views. There are five springs amid a fir-larch forest. North Point and East Point provide vistas but require cross-country travel as there are no maintained trails.

North Fork John Day Wilderness, Umatilla and Whitman NFs, is 121,000 acres of rolling bench lands in four units. There are remains of old gold and silver mining operations, granite outcrops, and a large herd of elk. There are 33 miles of trails.

Baldy Creek Unit, Whitman NF (N44˚54’ W118˚19’), contains the headwaters of the North Fork John Day River and is south of Forest Highway 73. Mount Ireland, Angell Peak, and Mount Ruth are along the borders. Crawfish Lake and Crawfish Meadow are also in the wilderness. The Elkhorn Crest NRT follows the eastern border of this unit.

North Fork John Day Unit, Umatilla and Whitman NFs (N44˚56’ W118˚36’), contains the main river gorge and is the largest unit. A series of buttes overlook the river gorge, including Winom, Desolation Rabbit, Silver, Trout Meadows, and Ten Cent. The North Fork John Day NRT and South Winom Creek NRT are in the wilderness. The North Fork John Day River in the wilderness is in the national wild and scenic river system.

Greenhorn Unit, Umatilla NF (N44˚46’ W118˚33’) is south of Forest Highway 10 and the Olive Lake-Fremont Powerhouse Historical Area and adjacent to the Vinegar Hill-Indian Rock Scenic Area. It contains the Greenhorn Mountains and Clear Creek tributaries, which are tributary to the North Fork John Day River.

Tower Unit, Umatilla NF (N45˚2’ W118˚36’) is north of the Blue Mountain Scenic Byway (Forest Highway 52). It is drained by Winom Creek and Big Creek.

Eagle Cap Wilderness, Wallowa and Whitman National Forests, Oregon, is 360,000 acres, with 534 miles of trail winding among 60 alpine lakes and U-shaped glacial valleys. There are 31 summits above 8,000 feet. The Lake Basin (N45˚11’ W117˚16’) at the foot of 9,600-foot Eagle Cap contains a number of high elevation lakes. Nearby is the Matterhorn (N45˚14’ W117˚18’), which towers over Hurricane Creek. The Wallowa Mountains Important Bird Area overlaps the wilderness, and was designated because the wilderness provides habitat for the spruce grouse, pine grosbeak, and Wallowa rosy finch, which nests only in the wilderness. The northeastern portion of the wilderness is drained by the Wallowa River. Trailheads accessible from Enterprise on the north side of the wilderness include three along the Lostine River Road (Forest Road 8210). These are Bowman-Francis Lake trailhead (N45˚18’ W117˚24’), Maxwell Lake trailhead (N45˚16’ W117˚23’), and Two Pan (N45˚15’ W117˚23’), at the end of the road. Also accessible from Enterprise are Hurricane Creek (N45˚19’ W117˚18’), with massive granite and limestone cliffs including the Matterhorn, and Wallowa Lake (N45˚16’ W117˚13’).  Lostine River is designated as a wild and scenic river for 16 miles from its headwaters (N45˚12’ W117˚21’) downstream to the wilderness boundary (N45˚15’ W117˚23’). Craig Mountain Lake RNA (N45˚13’ W117˚16’) is 170 acres with a high elevation pond and meadow. Nearby West Razz Lake RNA (N45˚13’ W117˚17’) is a 47-acre tract with a high elevation permanent pond and sedge meadow. Mount Joseph RNA (N45˚17’ W117˚16’) is 700 acres to the west of Wallowa Lake and is representative of tundra cushion-plant communities and whitebark pine communities. Glacier Lake RNA (N45˚10’ W117˚17’) is 100 acres with a high elevation lake and arctic willow community. Sturgill proposed RNA (N45˚19’ W117˚31’) and Standley proposed RNA (N45˚23’ W117˚35’) are 140 acres and 740 acres, respectively, with representative green fescue communities.

In the Imnaha River watershed, trailheads are at Tenderfoot (N45˚11’ W117˚6’) and Indian Crossing (N45˚7’ W117˚1’) in the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. Tenderfoot Basin proposed RNA (N45˚11’ W117˚12’) is 900 acres with a green fescue community. Nebo proposed RNA is also a 1,700-acre area with green fescue grasslands. Imnaha River is a wild and scenic river for five miles in the wilderness from the confluence of the North and South Fork (N45˚7’ W117˚8’) downstream to the wilderness boundary (N45˚7’ W117˚2’) at river mile 58. South Fork Imnaha River is a wild and scenic river for 14 miles from its headwaters near Cusick Peak (N45˚8’ W117˚16’) to the confluence with the North Fork (N45˚7’ W117˚8’).

Trailheads accessible from Halfway are Twin Lakes (N45˚5’ W117˚3’), Cornucopia (N45˚1’ W117˚12’), Summit Point (N44˚59’ W117˚15’), East Eagle Creek (N45˚3’ W117˚19’), and Main Eagle (N45˚4’ W117˚24’). It is two miles from Main Eagle to Copper Falls. Eagle Creek is a unit of the national wild and scenic river system from Eagle Lake (N45˚8’ W117˚20’) to the wilderness boundary (N45˚5’ W117˚23’). The river is noted for waterfalls and glacial features. Granite Cliff towers 4,000 feet over the East Eagle trailhead. East Eagle Creek is considered eligible for the national wild and scenic river system from its headwaters near Horton Pass (N45˚10’ W117˚19’) to the wilderness boundary and on to the confluence with Eagle Creek in the Whitman NF (N44˚59’ W117˚22’).

West side trailheads are at Moss Springs (N45˚16’ W117˚41’), North Fork Catherine Creek (N45˚9’ W117˚37’), and West Eagle Meadow (N45˚5’ W117˚29’). These provide access to the Minam River country. The Minam River is a unit of the wild and scenic river system from Minam Lake (N45˚11’ W117˚21’) downstream to the Eagle Cap Wilderness boundary (N45˚31’ W117˚42’).  North Fork Catherine Creek was found to have outstandingly remarkable values from its headwaters (N45˚13’ W117˚35’) downstream to the wilderness boundary (N45˚11’ W117˚36’).

Hells Canyon Wilderness, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and National System of Public Lands, Idaho-Oregon, is 218,000 acres along the Snake River. In Idaho, it includes Hells Canyon from Willow Creek at Snake River Mile 228 to Hells Canyon Dam at Snake River Mile 248. In Oregon, it extends from Dug Bar at Snake River Mile 197 southward to Snake River Mile 260 south of Nelson Creek. The Snake River corridor itself is excluded from the wilderness. Oregon trailheads in the Blue Mountains are at Buck Creek (N45˚12’ W116˚46’), PO Saddle (N45˚14’ W116˚46’), Hat Point (N45˚26’ W116˚40’), and Warnock Corral (N45˚29’ W116˚39’). Idaho trailheads are at Black Lake (N45˚11’ W116˚34’), Heavens Gate (N45˚22’ W116˚30’), and Windy Saddle (N45˚21’ W116˚31’). Western Rim/Summit Ridge NRT winds end and out of the western boundary of the wilderness from PO Saddle northward to Dug Bar.

Granite Creek is a stream with outstanding scenery from its headwaters west of Black Lake in the the southeastern portion of the NRA (N45˚12’ W116˚35’) downstream to the Snake River (N45˚21’ W116˚39’). The stream begins at a glacial cirque then enters a U-shaped valley before descending in a deep canyon. Further north, Sheep Creek (N45˚28’ W116˚33’) and West Fork Sheep Creek (N45˚20’ W116˚33’) also drain the Idaho side of the wilderness from the Seven Devils Mountains. Devil’s Tooth, a 300-foot pinnacle, dominates the view from the Seven Devils Trail. Little Granite RNA (N45˚19’ W116˚34’) is 6,000 acres in the Seven Devils Mountains of Idaho with subalpine fir and Douglas-fir plant communities. Lightning Creek RNA (N45˚26’ W116˚29’) is a 2,100-acre high elevation area in Idaho north of Heaven’s Gate with Idaho fescue plant communities.

Mill Creek Wilderness, Ochoco NF, Oregon (N44˚30’ W120˚30’), is 17,300 acres extending from high prairies to canyons. Mountains include Whistler Point and Wildcat Mountain. Nearby is Desolation Canyon, an off-trail feature of the wilderness. Twin Pillars NRT extends eight miles from Bingham Spring Campground on Forest Highway 27, past the 200-foot-high rock formation of Twin Pillars (N44˚29’ W120˚32’), south to Wildcat Campground on Forest Highway 33.

Monument Rock Wilderness, Malheur and Whitman NFs (N44˚20’ W118˚19’), is 20,000 acres of ponderosa pine and large grassy meadows with 15 miles of trails. Monument Rock, Table Rock, and Bullrun Rock tower above the headwaters of the Little Malheur River at the south end of the wilderness.

Strawberry Mountain Wilderness, Malheur National Forest, Oregon (N44˚19’ W118˚43’), is 69,350 acres with 125 miles of trails and representative plant communities from five of the seven life zones of North America. Forests of larch, spruce, pine, and fir are present, along with its namesake wild strawberries. There are seven alpine lakes. A popular trail leads to Strawberry Falls (N44˚18’ W118˚43’). Strawberry Mountain proposed RNA (N44˚19’ W118˚43’) is 100 acres and was selected for its reproducing nearly pure stand of whitebark pine. Northwest of Strawberry Mountain is Baldy Mountain proposed RNA (N44˚20’ W118˚48’), which is 4,000 acres of subalpine fir-Idaho fescue, western juniper, and mountain mahogany plant communities. There are some serpentine areas. In the western portion of the wilderness is Canyon Creek RNA (N44˚18’ W118˚52’), 700 acres established to represent a virgin ponderosa pine ecosystem, with some areas of western juniper and mountain mahogany forests. The three miles of Lake Creek (N44˚15’ W118˚40’) within the wilderness are considered eligible for the national wild and scenic river system.

North Fork Umatilla Wilderness, Umatilla National Forest, Oregon (N45˚44’ W118˚7’) is 20,435 acres with 31 miles of trails, located south of State Route 204 east of Pendleton. The wilderness consists of steep canyons beneath a plateau and includes canyons of the North Fork Umatilla River, Bear Creek, Buck Creek, and Thomas Creek in addition to Grouse Mountain, Buck Mountain, and Ninemile Ridge.

Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness, Pomeroy Ranger District, Umatilla National Forest, Oregon-Washington, is 177,000 acres of deep canyons with ridgetops 2,000 feet above the drainages. The area is forested with ponderosa pine below 4,500 feet elevation and lodgepole pine on the high mountains. The highest point is Oregon Butte (N46˚ W117˚). There are 200 miles of trails, with numerous trailheads around the perimeter in the Umatilla NF, accessible from Kendall Skyline Road on the west and other roads to the north and east. The Wenaha River in the wilderness is a unit of the national wild and scenic river system. The North Fork Wenaha River, Oregon-Washington (N46˚0’ W117˚52’) and South Fork Wenaha River, Oregon (N45˚54’ W117˚54’) are eligible for the national wild and scenic river system. Butte Creek, Oregon-Washington (N46˚0’ W117˚42’) and West Fork Butte Creek, Washington (N46˚4’ W117˚44’), tributaries to the Wenaha River, are considered eligible for the national wild and scenic river system. The northern boundary of the wilderness is the Tucannon River, Washington (N46˚11’ W117˚39’), which is also eligible. Rainbow Creek RNA, Washington (N46˚4’ W117˚46’) is a grand fir-white pine community adjacent to the West Fork Butte Creek. Wenaha Breaks RNA, Oregon (N45˚57’ W117˚47’) is a grand fir-Pacific yew forest community.

Blue Mountains Forest, Part B: Ponderosa Pines and Fossil Mammals

This section includes the National Forests in the western and central Blue Mountains of Oregon, National Park System, Recreation Lakes, and the National Trails System. While ponderosa pines predominate at higher elevations, botanical areas protect other rare species such as Alaska yellow cedar grove. Grasslands and sagebrush are characteristic at lower elevations of the Blue Mountains. In addition to the forests and grasslands, the Blue Mountains contain sites with the most complete record of terrestrial land mammal evolution, an 85-mile rail trail, and scenic rock formations.

National Forest System in Western Blue Mountains

Starkey Experimental Forest and Range (N45˚13’ W118˚31’), is 27,000 acres located 45 miles southwest of La Grande; this facility is devoted to research on the effects of cattle-deer-elk interactions and herbivory on forest and range management. An ungulate-proof fence encloses 40 square miles. Riparian research takes place on Meadow Creek. Vegetation is bunchgrass, ponderosa pine, and Douglas fir.

Malheur NF, Oregon, is 1.5 million acres. In the John Day watershed portion of the forest, South Fork Desolation Creek is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system and drains the Vinegar Hill-Indian Rock Scenic Area (N44˚46’ W118˚40’), which provides spectacular views of the North Fork John Day River gorge to the north and the Strawberry Mountains to the south. The scenic area is in the Greenhorn Mountains and is shared with the Umatilla NF. South of Galena and the Middle Fork John Day River is Arch Rock National Recreation Trail (N44˚38’ W118˚51’), which leads past scenic rock formations. It is off of Forest Highway 36. Magone Lake Geological Area (N44˚33’ W118˚55’) is north of John Day on US Route 395 and east on Beech Creek Road (Forest Road 3618). It was formed by a landslide in the early 1800s. Dixie Butte proposed RNA (N44˚36’ W118˚38’) is 335 acres north of Dixie Summit on US Route 26. It is representative of a subalpine plant community with shrub-steppe and subalpine fir/Engelmann spruce forest. On US Route 26 is the Sumpter Valley Railroad Historic Area (N44˚32’ W118˚36’), which commemorates the narrow gauge railroad that operated between 1890 and 1961 between Baker City and Prairie City. A trail overlooks the Dixie Switchbacks, the highest point on the railroad.

East of US 395 and south of US 26 is the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness, described separately. To the southeast of the wilderness is the Fergy Spruce Grove Botanical Area (N44˚5’ W118˚38’), consisting of 29 acres. Logan Valley Interpretive Site (N44˚11’ W118˚38’) is a broad prairie known for its wildflowers on Forest Highway 16 east of US 395. The Malheur River is a unit of the wild and scenic river system for 14 miles in the forest from Bosenberg Creek (N44˚8’ W118˚37’) to the forest boundary (N44˚1’ W118˚32’). Malheur River NRT follows the river canyon for eight miles from Malheur Ford (N44˚5’ W118˚35’) south to Hog Flat. The Malheur Headwaters National Register District Historical Area is an area of upland meadows with hopper mortars—heat-altered rock used for cooking by aboriginal peoples.

In the southeast portion of the Malheur NF east of Strawberry Mountain Wilderness is the Monument Rock Wilderness (N44˚20’ W118˚19’), described separately. The North Fork Malheur River is a unit of the national wild and scenic river system for 25 miles in the forest from its headwaters (N44˚22’ W118˚24’) to the forest boundary north of Beulah Reservoir (N44˚5’ W118˚18’). Along the river is Dugout Creek RNA (N44˚13’ W118˚22’), 900 acres of ponderosa pine-pinegrass community set aside for research. To the south of US Route 26 is the humongous fungus, the world’s largest living organism, found in the Grouse Knob area (N44˚28’ W118˚29’). A genetically identical individual organism of the Armillaria root disease fungus covers 2,385 acres and weighs from 8,000 to 35,000 tons. The organism is a network of fungal mycelia and its age is from 1,900 to 8,600 years. There are four other individual fungal organisms (called genets) in the same area of the Blue Mountains.

To the west of US 395 are the Aldrich Mountains. The Cedar Grove Botanical Area (N44˚20’ W119˚20’) is a 94-acre site with an Alaska yellow cedar grove, accessible from the one-mile Cedar Grove NRT on Forest Road 2150 off of Forest Highway 21 and US Route 26. The Tex Creek Geological Area (N44˚16’ W119˚17’) is on Forest Highway 21 near the confluence of Tex Creek and Murderers Creek and is a natural arch. Shake Table RNA (N44˚16’ W119˚24’) is a flat-topped mountain of almost 400 acres with western juniper/low sagebrush/bunchgrass plant communities.

Ochoco NF, Oregon, is 848,000 acres, including the Ochoco and Maury Mountain Ranges, at the western end of the Blue Mountains. Low elevations are mostly juniper and sagebrush while higher elevations are ponderosa pine. To the west of US Route 26 is Stein’s Pillar (N44˚25’ W120˚37’), a volcanic plug which rises prominently out of the rest of the surrounding forest. To the north of Stein’s Pillar is the Mill Creek Wilderness. On US Route 26 is Bandit Springs (N44˚2’ W120˚24’), a winter recreation area and summer hiking area near the Ochoco Divide.

The Ochoco National Forest east of US Route 26 surrounds Big Summit Prairie (N44˚20’ W120˚10’), a wildflower viewing area which is mostly privately owned. Ochoco Divide RNA (N44˚29’ W120˚22’) is 800 acres south of US Route 26 on Forest Road 2210. The ponderosa pine-Douglas fir-grand fir forest is surrounds Carroll Butte and is fenced to exclude cattle. Summit Trail is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a 74-mile historic route used for pack animals from 1900 to 1930. A section of Summit Trail begins at US Route 26 at Crystal Creek (N44˚29’ W120˚24’) and extends east on Forest Road 2630 to Slide Mountain, Thompson Spring on the edge of the Bridge Creek Wilderness (N44˚28’ W120˚16’), Peterson Lava (N44˚27’ W120˚3’), Cottonwood Springs (N44˚23’ W119˚51’) and Wolf Ridge (N44˚21’ W119˚48’).

West of Big Summit Prairie is Lookout Mountain Recreation Area (N44˚19’ W120˚22’), a 14,400-acre area managed for recreation with 23 miles of trails. Round Mountain National Recreation Trail extends from south of Round Mountain (N44˚24’ W120˚21’) to Walton Lake (N44˚26’ W120˚20’). Deep Creek Recreation Area (N44˚21’ W120˚1’) is a deep canyon. Deep Creek is a tributary of the North Fork Crooked River, which flows out of Big Summit Prairie and is in the national wild and scenic river system. In the Maury Mountains, Hammer Creek (N44˚5’ W120˚28’) is managed as a scenic corridor.

The section of Ochoco NF northwest of Burns is administered by the Malheur NF. The Depression-Era CCC Buildings Historical Area at Allison Guard Station (N43˚55’ W119˚36’) is a seven-building complex. Stinger Creek proposed RNA (N43˚46’ W119˚22’) is 1,700 of an old growth ponderosa pine forest with bitterbrush and mountain mahogany in one area and sagebrush-fescue vegetation in another area. It is located northwest of Burns. Dry Mountain RNA (N43˚40’ W119˚34’) is 2,200 acres on an isolated mountain overlooking the Snake-Columbia River shrub-steppe ecoregion. Vegetation is ponderosa pine with big sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass and mountain mahogany-bunchgrass. An adjacent RNA in the National System of Public Lands is 2,100 acres and contains similar ecological communities. Silver Creek RNA (N43˚51’ W119˚40’) is a steep-sided canyon with old growth ponderosa pine-pinegrass-elk sedge vegetation. It is 800 acres in area and east of Forest Highway 45, which generally follows Silver Creek through the forest. An adjacent RNA in the National System of Public Lands is 1,900 acres with similar habitats. North of the RNA is the Silver Creek Scenic Area (N43˚54’ W119˚41’), consisting of 1,500 acres of canyon lands.

National Park System in the Blue Mountains

The National Park System in the Blue Mountains forests consists of a multi-unit geological property and one historical property. The John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon, has three units which together provide the most complete record of terrestrial land mammal evolution in the northern Hemisphere, extending through 44 million years of geologic time. The floral changes recorded indicate a transition from near-tropical conditions to more temperate and arid conditions over time (Dillhoff et al. 2009). Two units are in the Blue Mountains ecoregion.

Painted Hills Unit (N44˚39’ W120˚16’), is 3,100 acres north of Mitchell and US Route 26 on Bridge Creek-Burnt Ranch Road and Bear Creek Road. It features short trails through yellow and red clays eroding along Bridge Creek. The Bridge Creek Flora (33 million years ago) was a temperate-zone deciduous forest similar to today’s southeast Asia. Dawn redwood fossils and fossil bats and horses are also found.

Sheep Rock Unit (N44˚32’ W119˚38’) is 9,000 acres at the junction of US Route 26 and State Route 19 west of Dayville. The Thomas Condon Paleontology Center provides fossil exhibits and the historic Cant Ranch house is also on the property. Trails lead to geologic features and overlooks of the green-colored claystone strata. The longest trail is to Blue Basin Overlook (3-mile loop). The Turtle Cove Assemblage (29 million years ago) features plants as well as horse, mouse-deer, beavers, bear-dogs, and enteleodonts. Fossils from the Kimberly and Haystack Assemblages (24 to 20 million years ago) include gophers, rabbits, foxes, and horses that lived in the area as it was transitioning from a forest to a bunchgrass and sage-steppe habitat. The Mascall assemblage (15 million years ago) marked a return to temperate deciduous forests, with fossils of horned rodents, dogs, deer, horse, and elephant relatives. The Rattlesnake Assemblage (7 million years ago) includes animals that lived in a semiarid area, including fox, bear, rhino,and peccary relatives.

Nez Perce National Historical Park, Idaho-Montana-Oregon-Washington, consists of sites commemorating the stories, events, and artifacts of the Nez Perce Tribe. One site is in the Blue Mountains ecoregion. Joseph Canyon Viewpoint, Oregon (N45˚50’ W117˚16’) is on State Route 3 between Enterprise, Oregon, and Clarkston, Washington. Joseph Canyon was one of the winter homes of the Nez Perce and the site of Chief Joseph’s birth, according to tribal tradition.

Federal recreation lakes in Blue Mountains forests include federally constructed and operated as well as federally licensed dams. They are organized according to tributaries of the Columbia River.

The Deschutes River flows into the Columbia River at Lake Celilo from the south and there are two reservoirs constructed by the Bureau of Reclamation as part of the Crooked River project in this watershed. Ochoco Reservoir, Bureau of Reclamation, Oregon (44˚18’ W120˚43’) is six miles east of Prineville on US Route 26. This reservoir is part of the Crooked River Project. Ochoco Lake State Park is on the reservoir. Arthur R. Bowman Dam and Prineville Reservoir, Bureau of Reclamation, Oregon (N44˚7’ W120˚47’), on the Crooked River 20 miles upstream from Prineville on State Route 27, is part of the Crooked River Project and is operated by the Ochoco Irrigation District.  Prineville Reservoir State Park and Wildlife Management Area are located on the reservoir lands. Lytle Creek Diversion Dam, Bureau of Reclamation, Oregon (N44˚22 W120˚56’) diverts water into an irrigation canal west of Prineville, and is part of the Crooked River project.

In Idaho upstream from Lewiston, the Lewiston Orchards Irrigation Project of the Bureau of Reclamation diverts water from the high mountains east of the Snake River to irrigation uses. Soldiers Meadow Reservoir (N46˚10’ W116˚44’) stores water from Webb Creek and Captain John Creek. Downstream, this water is diverted by the Webb Creek Diversion Dam (N46˚14’ W116˚45’) to the East Fork Sweetwater Creek and then to Mann Lake (Reservoir A) in the Palouse grasslands ecoregion on the Nez Perce Reservation.

On the Snake River in the Blue Mountains are three Idaho Power dams. Hells Canyon Dam and Reservoir, Idaho Power, Idaho-Oregon (N45˚15’ W116˚42’) is the lowermost of the Snake River dams in the Blue Mountains at Mile 248. The 391-MW facility creates a reservoir 26 miles long. Oxbow Dam, Idaho Power, Idaho-Oregon (N44˚58’ W116˚50’) is the middle of the three Hells Canyon dams at Snake River Mile 273. It is operated as a run-of-the-river hydroelectric facility and has a capacity of 190 MW. The reservoir is ten miles long. Brownlee Dam and Reservoir, Idaho Power, Idaho-Oregon (N44˚50’ W116˚54’), is 585 MW of capacity at Snake River Mile 283 and creates a 58-mile reservoir on the Snake River. It is the most upstream of the Hells Canyon dams.

The Powder River flows into the Snake River above Brownlee Dam from the Oregon side. Thief Valley Reservoir, Bureau of Reclamation, Oregon (N45˚1’ W117˚47’) is on the Powder River north of Baker City, providing irrigation to eastern Oregon. Phillips Lake/Mason Dam, Bureau of Reclamation, Oregon (N44˚40’ W118˚0’) is upstream of Baker City on the Powder River, accessible from State Route 7. It stores irrigation water for 18,500 acres in the Baker City area. Recreation areas are part of the Whitman NF. Further upstream, the Burnt River also confluences with the Snake River from the Oregon side. Unity Reservoir, Bureau of Reclamation, Oregon (N44˚30’ W118˚11’), is on the Burnt River on State Route 245, and is used for irrigation water storage. A state park provides reservoir recreation.

The Weiser River flows into the Snake River upstream from Brownlee Dam on the Idaho side. Mann Creek Reservoir, Bureau of Reclamation, Idaho (N44˚24’ W116˚54’) is an irrigation storage project 13 miles northeast of Weiser on US Route 95. Further upstream, the Payette River also enters the Snake River from the Idaho side. Cascade Reservoir, Bureau of Reclamation, Idaho (N44˚34’ W116˚6’) is on the North Fork Payette River and accessed by State Route 55. It is part of the Boise Project. Lake Cascade State Park is on the reservoir.

The National Trails System in Blue Mountains forests consists of the Oregon National Historic Trail and 15 national recreation trails. There are nine sites along the Oregon National Historic Trail in the Blue Mountain forests.

Farewell Bend State Recreation Area, Oregon (N44˚18’ W117˚14’), is 74 acres and was the last rest stop along the Snake River for Oregon Trail travelers, who had been traveling along the Snake for more than 300 miles since eastern Idaho.

Weatherby and Burnt River Canyon, Oregon (N44˚30’ W117˚22’), are on I-84, exit 330. Weatherby was the location where the trail left the Burnt River Canyon and ascended east of Gold Hill.

Flagstaff Hill and National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, National System of Public Lands, Oregon (N44˚49’ W117˚44’) is on State Route 86 east of Baker and overlooks seven miles of ruts across Virtue Flat to the south. Four miles of hiking trails are on site.

Baker Valley, Oregon (N44˚55’ W117˚49’) is on I-84, milepost 295, north of Baker City. It was the site of a lone pine tree seen by early travelers in an otherwise arid landscape. It was cut down at some point and was missing to later travelers.

Ladd Canyon segment, Oregon (N45˚11’ W117˚59’) is on I-84, Exit 270 and is an area of remnant trail ruts.

Hilgard Junction State Recreation Area, Oregon (N45˚20’ W118˚14’) is on I-84 at exit 252 along the Grande Ronde River, and protects an extant segment of the Oregon Trail as it enters Whitman NF.

Blue Mountain Forest State Scenic Corridor, Oregon, extends from the Glover Interchange on I-84, mile 248 (N45˚22’ W118˚18’) to Deadman Pass on I-84, exit 230 (N45˚36’ W118˚30’) along old US Route 30, passing the approximate location of the Oregon National Historic Trail. Emigrant Springs State Heritage Area is along the corridor.

Blue Mountain Crossing (Oregon Trail Interpretive Park), Whitman NF, Oregon (N45˚24’ W118˚19’) is off of I-84, exit 248, Glover Interchange. This is one of the best preserved sections of the Oregon Trail.

Emigrant Springs State Heritage Area, Oregon (N45˚32’ W118˚28’), is at Exit 234 on I-84, and contains interpretive exhibits and hiking trails..

Deadman Pass, Umatilla Indian Reservation, Oregon (N45˚36’ W118˚30’) is on I-84, Exit 230, where the trail left the Blue Mountains and descended through the Palouse grasslands. This was the last of the arduous trek through the Blue Mountains. The name refers to violent deaths for wagon trains, some of which were at the hands of local Indians. Trail ruts are visible in the area.

National Recreation Trails (NRTs) in Blue Mountains forests are grouped by region. In the Hells Canyon area are four NRTs. Heavens Gate NRT, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, Idaho (N45˚22’ W116˚30’), is a 0.2-mile trail overlooking Hells Canyon, located at the end of Forest Highway 517 west of Riggins on US Route 95. Sheep Rock Overlook NRT, Payette NF, Idaho (N45˚11’ W116˚40’), is a one-half mile trail leading to an overlook of Hells Canyon. Access is from Cuprum, Idaho. Snake River NRT, Hells Canyon NRA, Idaho (N45˚37’ W116˚28’ to N45˚16’ W116˚41’), begins at Upper Pittsburg Landing and follows the Snake Wild River south 21 miles to Lamont Springs, three miles north of Hells Canyon Dam. Western Rim/Summit Ridge NRT, Hells Canyon NRA and Hells Canyon Wilderness, Oregon, follows the western rim of Hells Canyon from PO Saddle (N45˚15’ W116˚46’) to Saddle Creek (N45˚24’ W116˚44’) south of Hat Point. It continues northward from Warnock Corral (N45˚29’ W116˚39’) to Dug Bar (N45˚48’ W116˚41’) on the Snake River, passing Somers Point (N45˚37’ W116˚32’) and Lords Flat (N45˚40’ W116˚37’) before descending to Dug Bar.

Just east of Hells Canyon, Weiser River NRT, Friends of the Weiser River Trail, Idaho, is an 85-mile rail trail owned and managed by a friends group.  It begins in the south at Weiser (N44˚15’ W116˚58’) and winds through desert canyons in the south to forests in the north.  It ends at Rubicon  (N44˚59’ W116˚22’) on US Route 95 four miles west of New Meadows in the Blue Mountains.

Just west of Hells Canyon, High Wallowa NRT, Wallowa NF, Oregon (N45˚16’ W117˚11’), includes two miles of trails on Mount Howard providing overlooks of Wallowa Lake. The trails are reached by the Wallowa Lake Tramway, the steepest vertical lift of a gondola in North America. Further west is Jubilee Lake NRT, Umatilla NF, Oregon (N45˚50’ W117˚58’), a three-mile loop around the lake. It is located on Forest Highway 64 north of Tollgate (State Route 204).

The remaining NRTs are west of I-84.  Elkhorn Crest NRT, North Fork John Day Wilderness and Whitman NF, Oregon, extends for 23 miles from the Anthony Lake area on Forest Highway 73 (N44˚58’ W118˚14’) south to Marble Point (N44˚46’ W118˚3’) in the Baker Watershed. It is the highest trail in the Blue Mountains and passes six lakes. North Fork John Day NRT, North Fork John Day Wilderness, Umatilla NF, Oregon, extends for 23 miles through the North Fork John Day Wilderness, from the Big Creek Trailhead (N44˚58’ W118˚41’) east to the Blue Mountain Scenic Byway (Forest Highway 73) (N44˚55’ W118˚24’). Winom Creek NRT, North Fork John Day Wilderness and Umatilla NF (N45˚0’ W118˚40’), extends for four miles south from Forest Highway 52 at Winom Meadows .

In the Malheur National Forest are three NRTs. Arch Rock NRT, Malheur NF, Oregon (N44˚38’ W118˚51’), is 0.3 miles in length and leads past scenic rock formations. It is off of Forest Highway 36 south of Galena and the Middle Fork John Day River. Cedar Grove NRT, Malheur NF, Oregon (N44˚20’ W119˚20’) is on Forest Road 2150 in the Aldrich Mountains. It is a one-mile trail to an Alaskan yellow cedar grove. Malheur River NRT, Malheur NF, Oregon, follows the river canyon for eight miles from Malheur Ford (N44˚5’ W118˚35’) south to Hog Flat (N44˚1’ W118˚35’). The river canyon reaches 1,000 feet in depth.

In the Ochoco National Forest are two NRTs. Round Mountain NRT, Ochoco NF, Oregon (N44˚24’ W120˚21’) begins at Walton Lake Campground east of Prineville and extends eight miles to the south, over 6,800-foot Round Mountain. Twin Pillars NRT, Mill Creek Wilderness, Oregon, extends eight miles from Bingham Spring Campground on Forest Highway 27, past the rock formation of Twin Pillars (N44˚29’ W120˚32’), south to Wildcat Campground on Forest Highway 33.

to be continued

Blue Mountains Forests, Part A

High Dams, Humongous Fungus, and Kam Wah Chung

The Blue Mountains as defined by the World Wildlife Fund are complex in biological communities, with a variety of habitats based on elevation. Communities include sagebrush, pinyon-juniper, ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir, western larch, spruce, lodgepole pine, chaparral, mountain meadows and grasslands which extend from western-central Idaho to the Cascade Mountains near Prineville, Oregon. Geologically, the Blue Mountains are believed to be an island arc that originated in the eastern equatorial Pacific. During the Mesozoic Era, this island arc moved northeastward and was attached to North America. The point of attachment to the Idaho Batholith was in the Hells Canyon area (Vallier and Brooks 1986).

The conifer forests of the Blue Mountains are parasitized by the Armillaria ostoyae fungus, which causes a root disease, killing some species. In the Malheur National Forest, the network of fungal mycelia has grown very large. Studies of the fungi in the forest has revealed that there are five areas where all the Armillaria mycelia are genetically identical. These areas are called genets. The humongous fungus, the world’s largest living organism, is found in the Grouse Knob area, covers 2,385 acres in area, and weighs from 8,000 to 35,000 tons. The organism is a network of fungal mycelia and its age is from 1,900 to 8,600 years (Schmitt and Tatum 2008).

Hells Canyon was the site of one of the epic battles over dam building during the 1950s and 1960s. Federal agencies attempting to continue the New Deal legacy of federal dam building proposed building a “high dam” in Hells Canyon near the confluence of the Salmon and Snake Rivers. Other public power agencies proposed dams also. The High Mountain Sheep Dam license was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1964, based on the need to address fish, wildlife, and recreation needs and other public interest considerations. However, Idaho Power had applied for, and received, a license to build a smaller three-dam complex in Hells Canyon in 1947. The defeat of the High Mountain Sheep proposal allowed Idaho Power to complete its three-dam complex. One reason the Idaho Power proposal ultimately prevailed was because of political battles over the role of public and private power and federal planning and regulation in general. For example, there was fear that new federal dams would allow Bonneville Power Administration to become the TVA of the Pacific Northwest, and that private irrigation interests would be harmed (Brooks 2006). The Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and Hells Canyon Wilderness areas, described below, are also legacies of the Hells Canyon Dam battles of the 1960s.

There is one National Historic Landmark in the Blue Mountains forests. Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site, Oregon (N44˚25’ W118˚57’), is in the town of John Day on Canton Street. It commemorates Chinese immigration to Oregon, which took place to serve the gold mining communities in the area. Kam Wah Chung & Company was operated by two Chinese immigrants as an apothecary and general store from 1888 to the 1940s, and contains the largest collection of traditional Chinese medicines in the U.S. The store also served as a religious and cultural community center for more than 50 years.

There is one National Natural Landmark in the Blue Mountains forests. Sheep Rock, Payette National Forest, Idaho (N45˚11’ W116˚40’), is on Forest Road 106 about 42 miles from US Route 95 at Council. A one-half mile trail provides a scenic overlook of Hells Canyon. The landmark provides a view of horizontally layered lavas formed by successive flows on the Columbia River plateau which took place during the Miocene Epoch (Gray 2012). Two lava flows are separated by a visible uncomformity.

The National Forest System in the Blue Mountains forests consists of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and adjoining national forests in Idaho and Oregon. Three other national forests, the Umatilla, Malheur, and Ochoco, follow the ridges from Hells Canyon westward to the Cascade Mountains. The description begins with the Idaho national forests that border Hells Canyon and then moves westward. The Blue Mountains portion of the Boise NF, Idaho, in the Blue Mountains consists of the Sage Hen Management Area (N44˚20’ W116˚11’) atop West Mountain on the border with the Idaho batholith. Nez Perce NF, Idaho, is 2.2 million acres.  The northeastern approaches to Hells Canyon are through the Nez Perce NF.  Forest Route 493 from White Bird provides access to Pittsburg Saddle (N45˚40’ W116˚24’), which continues to Pittsburg Landing on the Snake River.  Forest Route 517 provides access to Seven Devils (N45˚21’ W116˚30’) and Heavens Gate overlooks on the east side of Hells Canyon Wilderness. Seven Devils is part of the Wallowa terrane, a former island arc off the western coast of North America which was accreted to the continent in the Late Jurassic to early Cretaceous time period (Gray 2012).  Forest Route 241 provides access to Sawpit Saddle (N45˚32’ W116˚25’), another Hells Canyon viewpoint. The Rapid and West Fork Rapid Rivers in the forest are part of the national wild and scenic river system. The relatively low elevation makes the Rapid River accessible year-round. Trails follow the river and its west fork and connect to Seven Devils in the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area to the west (Chisholm 2014).

Payette NF, Idaho, is 2.3 million acres in both the Salmon River Mountains to the east of US 95/State Route 55 and the Seven Devils Range to the west of US 95. In the Blue Mountains, the Hells Canyon/Seven Devils Scenic Area is adjacent to Hells Canyon NRA and Hells Canyon Wilderness.  Within this area is Sheep Rock NNL (see separate description). These are steep glaciated mountains and canyons, dominated by volcanic rocks. Vegetation is grassland and ponderosa pine in higher elevations.  There are 40 miles of trails. The Snake River Road follows the shore of Hells Canyon Reservoir through the Payette NF from Oxbow (N44˚58’ W116˚51’) north to Hells Canyon Dam (N45˚15’ W116˚42’).

To the south of Hells Canyon, the forest lands are grasslands and forests on Columbia River basalts.  There are five RNAs, Bear Creek, Rocky Comfort Flat, Cuddy Mountain, Emery Creek, and Lost Basin Grasslands. Bear Creek RNA (N45-7 W116-33) is located on a ridge between Bear Creek and Wesley Creek and contains grand fir forests in the Blue Mountains. Rocky Comfort Flat RNA (N44-58 W116-43) is a plateau-like peninsula surrounded by the canyons of Bear Creek and the Crooked River, forested with mountain mahogany, Douglas-fir and sagebrush.

The Weiser River drainage forms a semicrircle around Council, Cambridge, and Indian Valley, which are on US 95.  Council Mountain RNA (N44-42 W116-16) is located between Council and Donnelly and is the highest summit in the West Mountains. Vegetation is mountain big sagebrush with small forest islands. Other features of this area are Lost Valley Reservoir and Rush Creek Falls.

The Rapid River drainage is west of US 95 in the Blue Mountains, providing important habitat for salmon, steelhead, and bull trout. The upper end of the Rapid Wild River is in the Payette NF.

Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, Idaho-Oregon is 652,000 acres in both the Palouse Prairie ecoregion and the Blue Mountains forests ecoregion. Hells Canyon of the Snake River is the deepest river gorge in North America, with an 8,000 foot elevation change.

In the Blue Mountains of Oregon, Hells Canyon Scenic Byway (Forest Highway 39) extends from State Route 86 at North Pine Creek (N44˚55’ W116˚57’) to Hells Canyon Overlook (N45˚7’ W116˚51’) and on to Lick Creek Campground (N45˚10’ W117˚2’). The byway continues outside of the NRA in the Wallowa NF and along State Routes 82 and 86. The byway passes the Imnaha River, which is a wild and scenic river for 60 miles in the national recreation area from the Eagle Cap Wilderness (N45˚6’ W117˚4’) downstream to the Snake River (N45˚49’ W116˚46’). Its elevation drop is more than 7,000 feet. The Imnaha River Road (Forest Road 3960) follows the Imnaha River upstream to Indian Crossing Campground (N45˚7’ W117˚1’). Duck Lake RNA N45˚6’ W117˚0’) is 500 acres with a low elevation pond and a vernal pond with a sphagnum bog amid old-growth ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir communities. Hat Point Road (Forest Road 4240) climbs from the Imnaha River (N45˚33’ W116˚49’) up the cliffs of Grizzly Ridge to Saddle Creek Overlook and on to Hat Point (N45˚26’ W116˚40’) for one of the most spectacular views. It is a one-lane unpaved road.

On the Idaho side, Pittsburg Landing Road (County Road 493) extends from White Bird on US Route 95 southwest to the Snake River, passing through the Nez Perce National Forest and entering the National Recreation Area at Pittsburg Saddle (N45˚40’ W116˚24’). Pittsburg Landing (N45˚38’ W116˚29’) provides river access. The Snake River NRT leads upstream to Kirkwood Historic Ranch (N45˚34’ W116˚30’) and into the Hells Canyon Wilderness (see). From Riggins on US Route 95, Forest Highway 241 and Forest Road 2060 wind to the Sawpit Saddle Viewpoint (N45˚32’ W116˚30’) and nearby Low Saddle Viewpoint. Heavens Gate Overlook (N45˚22’ W116˚30’) is accessible from Forest Road 517 from Riggins through the Nez Perce NF. The Snake River Road follows the shore of Hells Canyon Reservoir through the Payette NF from Oxbow (N44˚58’ W116˚51’) north to Hells Canyon Dam (N45˚15’ W116˚42’). There is a visitor center at Hells Canyon Creek below the dam on the Oregon side.

Wallowa NF, Oregon, is 995,000 acres, administered together with the Whitman NF. Much of the eastern portion is now part of the Hells Canyon NRA (see separate description). South of Joseph at Wallowa Lake, the Wallowa Lake Tramway is the steepest vertical lift of a gondola in North America, with a 4,000-foot elevation change. The southeastern portion of the forest is mostly the watershed of Big Sheep Creek, which is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system from the Eagle Cap Wilderness boundary (N45˚11’ W117˚6’) to the Imnaha River confluence (N45˚33’ W116˚50’). Lostine River is designated as a wild and scenic river for 16 miles from its headwaters (N45˚12’ W117˚21’) downstream to the Wallowa National Forest boundary (N45˚24’ W117˚26’).

In the section of the forest north of Enterprise, the Joseph Canyon Viewpoint (N45˚50’ W117˚16’), a site of the Nez Perce National Historical Park, is located on State Route 3 south of the Washington State Line. The deep canyon to the east of Route 3 is Swamp Creek, which contains outstanding scenery from its confluence with Joseph Creek (N45˚49’ W117˚4’) upstream to the forest boundary (N45˚36’ W117˚13’). Joseph Creek is a wild and scenic river for nine miles from Joseph Creek Ranch (N45˚48’ W117˚11’) downstream to the Wallowa NF boundary (N45˚52’ W117˚15’).

Whitman NF, Oregon, is 1.3 million acres, administered together with the Wallowa NF. The North Fork John Day Wilderness, Baldy Creek Unit, is within the forest and the North Fork John Day unit is shared with the Umatilla NF. The Oregon Trail crosses the forest for six miles along I-84. The Oregon Trail Interpretive Park (N45˚24’ W118˚19’) is located at one of the best preserved segments of the trail.

In the Grande Ronde Watershed upstream from La Grande, Five Points Creek (N45˚24’ W118˚13’), a tributary to the Grande Ronde River near La Grande, is considered eligible for the national wild and scenic rivers system. The stream flows through a remote and primitive canyon. The Grande Ronde River to the south of LaGrande (N45˚13’ W118˚’) is also considered a scenic area in the northern Elkhorn Mountains.

Gerald S. Strickler RNA (N45˚19’ W118˚33’), is 195 acres south of Forest Highway 21 and north of the Starkey Experimental Forest. It was established for research on a bunchgrass/oatgrass community with grand fir-Douglas-fir-ponderosa pine forests.

In the Elkhorn area of the forest west of Baker, the Elkhorn Scenic Byway (Forest Highway 73) completes a big loop from west of North Powder (N44˚59’ W118˚5’) to Sumpter at State Route 7 (N44˚43’ W118˚10’). Along this route, Anthony Lake is at the foot of Gunsight Peak (N44˚57’ W118˚14’), which has a prominent notch. State Route 7 through the forest is the Journey through Time Scenic Byway. Charles Grier Johnson, Jr., RNA (N44˚55’ W118˚20’) is on Forest Highway 73 on the North Fork John Day River and represents aspen and tufted hairgrass communities in a meadow along the river. East of the North Fork John Day Wilderness, the North Powder River (N44˚55’ W118˚10’) is a unit of the national wild and scenic river system for six miles from its headwaters to the forest boundary. Dutch Flat Creek (N44˚57’ W118˚10’), a tributary to the North Powder River, is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system. The stream exhibits outstanding examples of glacial geology, including a terminal moraine at the forest boundary. Also exhibiting outstanding scenery are Rock Creek (N44˚52’ W118˚7’) and Killamacue Creek (N44˚53’ W118˚8’), both of which are visible from the Elkhorn Crest NRT.

In the Wallowa Mountains portion of the forest, Point Prominence RNA (N45˚23’ W117˚43’) is 360 acres with a subalpine fir-big huckleberry community. To the south, Indian Creek RNA (N45˚19’ W117˚43’) contains a mountain hemlock community. Eagle Creek is a unit of the national wild and scenic river system from Eagle Lake (N45˚8’ W117˚20’) to the forest boundary (N44˚52’ W117˚14’). The river is noted for waterfalls and glacial features. East Eagle Creek is considered eligible for the national wild and scenic river system from its headwaters near Horton Pass (N45˚10’ W117˚19’) to its confluence with Eagle Creek (N44˚59’ W117˚22’). Granite Cliff towers 4,000 feet over the East Eagle Trailhead (N45˚4’ W117˚18’). North Fork Catherine Creek was found to have outstandingly remarkable values from its headwaters (N45˚13’ W117˚35’) downstream to the forest boundary (N45˚7’ W117˚39’). South of the Eagle Cap Wilderness, Clear Creek Ridge proposed RNA (N45˚4’ W117˚10’) is 637 acres and includes green fescue communities. Lake Fork RNA (N45˚1’ W116˚56’) is 200 acres with bluebunch wheatgrass, Wyeth’s buckwheat, and Cusick’s camas seepage plant communities. It is adjacent to Hells Canyon NRA. In the southwest portion of the Whitman NF south of Unity is the Monument Rock Wilderness (N44˚20’ W118˚19’), described separately.

Umatilla NF, Oregon-Washington, is 1.4 million acres. The three wilderness areas, Wenaha-Tucannon, North Fork Umatilla, and North Fork John Day, are described separately. The northern part of the forest is south of Pomeroy, Washington. This portion of the forest contains three botanical areas and one RNA. Charley Creek Botanical Area, Washington (N46˚15’ W117˚29’) provides habitat for the Wenaha currant. Karl Urban Botanical Area, Washington (N46˚12’ W117˚38’) surrounds Sheep Creek Falls and is 500 acres, with habitat for rare ferns, mosses, lichens. Forest Road 4712 along the Tucannon River provides access. Sheep Creek in the botanical area is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system. Sourdough Proposed Botanical Area, Washington (N46˚15’ W117˚22’) is 1,500 acres in the northeastern portion of the forest in the transition area between forest and the Palouse prairie. Pataha Bunchgrass RNA, Washington (N46˚17’ W117˚30’) is a bunchgrass and bluegrass community on Forest Highway 42 (Iron Springs Road) at the northern edge of the forest. The Tucannon River from its origin (N46˚7’ W117˚30’) to the forest boundary (N46˚18’ W117˚39’) is considered eligible for the national wild and scenic river system. Bear Creek (N46˚9’ W117˚34’), a tributary of the Tucannon River, is also considered eligible and is within a roadless area south of Forest Highway 40.

South of the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness, there are additional special areas. The Kendall Skyline Road (Forest Highways 64 and 46; not all passable by passenger car) extends from Mountain Top, Washington (N46˚14’ W117˚46’) south to Langdon Lake, Oregon (N45˚47’ W118˚5’) at the junction with State Route 204, passing the western side of Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness (see). West of the Skyline Road, the Mill Creek Municipal Watershed (N46˚0’ W118˚0’) is a watershed protection area for the City of Walla Walla. Mill Creek Watershed proposed RNA, Oregon-Washington (N45˚59’ W118˚0’), is 7,500 acres established to recognize disjunct red alder communities from the Cascade Mountains. It is along Low, Broken, and Paradise Creeks.

From Troy (N45˚57’ W117˚27’), the Wenaha River Trail leads upstream to the Wehaha-Tucannon Wilderness boundary (N45˚59’ W117˚33’). The Wenaha River is part of the national wild and scenic river system. Elk Flats Meadow Botanical Area, Oregon (N45˚55’ W117˚46’) is on Forest Highway 62 west of Troy. To the south, the Grande Ronde Scenic Area, Oregon (N45˚51’ W117˚46’) includes 9,150 acres of canyons overlooking the Grande Ronde Wild and Scenic River, which is on the forest boundary from mile 62 (N45˚52’ W117˚38’) upstream to mile 80 (N45˚45’ W117˚47’). Big Sink Geological Area, Oregon (N45˚47’ W117˚56’) is on Forest Highway 63 east of Tollgate. The three-mile-wide feature appears to be an ancient landslide. Target Meadows Historic Area, Oregon (N45˚48’ W118˚5’) is on Forest Road 50 north of Tollgate and was used for artillery practice. Lookingglass Creek, a tributary of the Grande Ronde River, is considered eligible for the national wild and scenic river system from State Route 204 (N45˚47’ W118˚5’) downstream to the forest boundary (N45˚45’ W117˚56’).

To the south of the North Fork Umatilla Wilderness are three botanical areas.  Farr Meadows Proposed Botanical Area (N45˚42’ W118˚2’) is on State Route 204 at Andies Prairie. Ruckel Junction Botanical Area (N45˚39’ W118˚8’) is on Forest Highway 31 north of Forest Highway 32 junction and contains habitat for Sabine’s lupine. Shimmiehorn Canyon Botanical Area (N45˚39’ W118˚12’) is noted for its ferns. It is west of Forest Highway 31 and accessible by foot.

Along I-84 at Exit 243, the Whitman Route Interpretive Site (N45˚28’ W118˚15’) is off of Forest Highway 31 (Mount Emily Road) and Forest Road 3109. From the view of Meacham Creek Canyon the route of the Whitman Missionaries in 1836 can be traced.

In the North Fork John Day area, Olive Lake-Freemont Powerhouse Historical Area is the remnant of a power development constructed in 1908 to provide power to the town of Granite and to support the Red Boy Gold Mine. A hydroelectric flume connected Olive Lake (N44˚47’ W118˚36’) with Fremont Powerhouse. Desolation Creek, a tributary to the North Fork John Day River, is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system from the confluence  of the North and South Fork Desolation Creek (N44˚49’ W118˚56’) downstream to its confluence with the North Fork John Day River (N45˚0’ W118˚56’). The North and South Forks of Desolation Creek are also considered eligible streams. Forest Highway 10 parallels the creek for several miles. Along the North Fork is Desolation Meadows, a unique botanical area. The South Fork drains the 35,000-acre Vinegar Hill-Indian Rock Scenic Area (N44˚46’ W118˚40’), which provides spectacular views of the North Fork John Day River gorge to the north and the Strawberry Mountains to the south. In the southern edge of the forest is Greenhorn Historical Area (N44˚43’ W118˚30’), which is a ghost town associated with gold mines. Vinegar Hill proposed RNA (N44˚43’ W118˚33’) is a subalpine big sagebrush community on the Greenhorn mountain crest.

In the area of the forest north of Camas Creek (State Route 244), Birch Creek Cove proposed RNA is a grand fir old growth forest with a filled in pond. It is located between Forest Road 20 and the West Fork Birch Creek. Yellow Jacket Road (Forest Road 5415) leads south from Pilot Rock to the area. In the unit of the forest south of Heppner, Kahler Butte proposed RNA (N44˚55’ W119˚41’) is 84 acres of a mima mound landscape type.  There are upper and lower benches with scabland sagebrush and scrublands surrounded by a forest of juniper and ponderosa pine. The site is off of State Route 207. The Blue Mountain Scenic Byway is Forest Highway 53 between Heppner and Ukiah (N45˚12’ W119˚20’ to N45˚10’ W119˚4’). The byway continues east of Ukiah as Forest Highway 52 (N45˚5’ W118˚55’) and intersects the Elkhorn Scenic Byway (Forest Highway 73) (N44˚55’ W118˚24’) along the upper North Fork John Day River.

 

Palouse Grasslands, Part 2

Part 2 includes reservoirs, national trail system, national wildlife refuge system, and national wilderness areas. Reservoirs that are owned or licensed by the federal government are described below. In the Palouse grasslands, there are 15 reservoirs in this category.

On tributaries of the lower Columbia River, Willow Creek Lake, USACE, Oregon (N45˚21’ W119˚33’), is a flood control reservoir located one mile south of Heppner. McKay Reservoir, Bureau of Reclamation, Oregon (N45˚36’ W118˚47’) is six miles south of Pendleton on U.S. Route 395 on McKay Creek; this reservoir stores irrigation water for the Umatilla Project.  Project lands are managed as the McKay Creek National Wildlife Refuge for migratory waterfowl. Mill Creek Project, USACE, Washington (N46˚4’ W118˚16’), consists of Mill Creek Dam and Bennington Lake along with diversion structures. The reservoir is east of Walla Walla and is an off-reservoir flood storage project. The Bennington Lake Trail system is a National Recreation Trail (see).

In the Snake River watershed of the Palouse prairie, Ice Harbor Lock and Dam/Lake Sacajawea, USACE, Washington (N46˚15’ W118˚53’) is on the Snake River just upstream of Pasco. The lake extends 30 miles upstream. Next upstream is Lake Herbert G. West/Lower Monumental Lock and Dam, USACE, Washington (N46˚34’ W118˚32’), on State Route 263 (Devils Canyon Road) south of Kahlotus on the Snake River. The lake extends upstream for 30 miles and includes the confluence of the Palouse and Snake Rivers. Little Goose Lock and Dam and Lake Bryan, USACE, Washington (N46˚35’ W118˚2’) is located on the Snake River east of Starbuck, Washington and extends upriver for 35 miles to Lower Granite Dam. The dam has a fish viewing room. Lower Granite Lock, Dam, and Reservoir, USACE, Idaho-Washington, extends up the Snake River above Lewiston. The dam (N46˚40’ W117˚26’), which has a fish viewing room, is west of Pullman on State Route 194 or north of Pomeroy via Garfield County roads. Hells Gate State Park, Idaho, is on the right bank and the site of Hasotino Village, a unit of the Nez Perce National Historical Park, is on the left. In Idaho upstream from Lewiston, the Lewiston Orchards Irrigation Project of the Bureau of Reclamation diverts water from the high mountains east of the Snake River to irrigation uses. The Sweetwater Diversion Dam (N46˚16’ W116˚51’) sends water into a canal to Mann Lake (Reservoir A), an off-reservoir storage area. Mann Lake, on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation, Idaho (N46˚22’ W116˚51’), is an Important Bird Area for Ross and greater white-fronted geese, scoters, and swans. Irrigation water is also stored in Lake Waha (N46˚12’ W116˚50’).

On the upper Columbia River and tributaries are a series of reservoirs. Lake Chelan, Chelan County Public Power District, Washington, is a hydroelectric facility that impounds a reservoir more than 50 miles long. The dam is located at Chelan (N47˚50’ W120˚0’). A passenger ferry runs the length of the lake to Stehekin (N48˚19’ W120˚39’). The lake is bordered by the Wenatchee NF, Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness, Glacier Peak Wilderness, and Lake Chelan NRA. Rufus Woods Lake/Chief Joseph Dam, USACE, Washington (N48º0’ W119º38’), extends 50 miles up the Columbia River to the tailwaters of Grand Coulee Dam (N47˚57’ W118˚59’).  Bridgeport State Park is on the north shore at the dam. The lake is in a deep canyon in the Waterville Plateau. There are giant boulder fields on ridges above the lake. Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake (Grand Coulee Dam), Bureau of Reclamation, Washington-British Columbia, extends from Grand Coulee Dam (N47˚57’ W118˚59’) upstream to the Canadian border. The lower reaches of this reservoir are in the Palouse Prairie ecoregion. This includes the sections from Grand Coulee Dam to Fort Spokane along the Columbia River and from Fort Spokane to Long Lake Dam along the Spokane River. Recreation is managed by the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area (see). To the south of Grand Coulee Dam and impounding water in the Grand Coulee itself, Banks Lake, Bureau of Reclamation, Washington, is a unit of the Columbia Project; this facility stores water from Lake Roosevelt in the ice age Grand Coulee flood channel for use in irrigation of the shrub-steppe. This is a holding lake, with North Dam (N47˚56’ W119˚1’) at the upstream end and Dry Falls Dam (N47˚37’ W119˚19’), crossed by US Route 2, at the lower end.  Northrup Canyon, Banks Lake, and Sun Lakes make up the Banks Lake IBA.

On the Spokane River are a series of hydroelectric facilities. Long Lake Project, Avista Utilities, Washington (N47˚50’ W117˚50’) is on the Spokane River at the State Route 231 bridge. Monroe Street Project, Avista Utilities, Washington (N47˚40’ W117˚25’) is centered on a waterfall in downtown Spokane on the Spokane River. Nine Mile Project, Avista Utilities, Washington (N47˚46’ W117˚33’) id downstream from Spokane on the Spokane River.  Recreation facilities are operated by Riverside State Park. Upper Falls Project, Avista Utilities, Washington (N47˚40’ W117˚25’) is on the Spokane River in downtown Spokane.

The National Trail System in the Palouse grasslands includes a national geologic trail, national scenic trail, three national historic trails (NHTs), and seven national recreation trails (NRTs). The Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail has been authorized but official sites have not been designated; however, numerous sites associated with flooding between Spokane and Grand Coulee in the Palouse grasslands would likely be included.

Lewis and Clark NHT includes two sites in the Palouse Prairie. Lewis and Clark Trail State Park, Washington (N46º17’ W118º4’) is on US Route 12 in the Touchet River valley east of Waitsburg and west of Dayton. Lewis and Clark passed through the site in 1806. There are two miles of trails. Tamastlikt Cultural Institute, Pendleton, celebrates the cultural traditions of the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla tribes.

Nez Perce NHT originates in the Palouse Prairie of Oregon and extends to Kooskia, Idaho in the Palouse prairie landscape. Chief Joseph’s Gravesite, Dug Bar, Joseph Canyon Viewpoint, Fort Lapwai, St. joseph’s Mission, Cottonwood, Tolo Lake, and WhiteBird Battlefield are described under Nez Perce National Historical Park. Other sites on the NHT include:

Iwetemlaykin State Heritage Area, Oregon (N45˚20’ W117˚13’), 62 acres on the Wallowa River at the south edge of the town of Joseph and adjacent to Chief Joseph’s gravesite on State Route 82. There is a one-mile trail system. It was acquired with the assistance of the Nez Perce tribe as a sacred site.

Imnaha, Oregon (N45˚34’ W116˚50’) was a winter village on a salmon stream.

Nez Perce-Nee Me Poo (Trail 1727) National Recreation Trail from Forest Road 4260 to Dug Bar, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and Hells Canyon Wilderness, Oregon (N45˚47’ W116˚44’) passes Cactus Mountain and Lone Pine Saddle and is a designated part of the NHT. The hiking trail length is five miles.

Indian Village Grove, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, Oregon (N45˚41 W116˚52’) is north of Zumwalt Prairie on  Forest Road 880 south of Forest Highway 46. A trail leads through a ponderosa pine forest used for peeling and eating the cambium layer.

Buckhorn Lookout, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, Oregon (N45˚45’ W116˚49’), provides views of the Nez Perce homelands along the Imnaha River, Horse Creek, Lightning Creek, and Cow Creek areas of the NRA.It is reached from Forest Road 780 off Forest Road 46.

The Wallowa Valley west of Enterprise, Oregon (N45˚26’ W117˚17’) is the traditional homeland of the Nez Perce people. Modern-day State Route 82 traverses the valley. Lostine (N45˚29’ W117˚25’) on State Route 82 was a traditional campsite. The Wallowa Band Nez Perce Trail Interpretive Center is in Wallowa, Oregon (N45˚34’ W117˚32’). Views of the Wallowa Valley are from Tick Hill at Wallowa. The western boundary of the territory was at Minam (N45˚37’ W117˚43’).

Chief Looking Glass Park, Asotin, Washington (N46˚21’ W117˚3’) is on State Route 129. It commemorates the home of a chief who died at the Bear Paw Battle.

Oregon NHT includes three sites in the Palouse Prairie. Deadman Pass, Oregon (N45˚36’ W118˚30’), is at Exit 228 on I-84. This was the last of the arduous trek through the Blue Mountains. The name refers to violent deaths for wagon trains, some of which were at the hands of local Indians. Trail ruts are visible in the area. McDonald Ferry, BLM, Oregon (N45˚35’ W120˚25’) is the site of the John Day River crossing, presently along the John Day National Wild and Scenic River at river mile 21. The Whitman Mission National Historic Site (see) was on a side branch of the Oregon Trail. The Whitmans helped the first parties along the trail and helped blaze the main trail.

Pacific Northwest NST crosses the Palouse grasslands at Oroville. Washington. The trail follows the Smilkameen River (N48˚57’ W119˚29’) through the Palouse habitat.

National Recreation Trails (NRTs) in the Palouse grasslands include a mix of rural and urban trails. Bennington Lake Trail System NRT, USACE, Washington (N46˚4’ W118˚16’) consists of four trails extending 20 miles around the Mill Creek flood control project east of Walla Walla.  The trails offer scenic views of the Walla Walla Valley and Blue Mountains.

Clearwater and Snake River NRT, USACE, ID-WA, extends 19 miles on the shoreline of Lower Granite Reservoir.  On the Washington side of the Snake River, the trail extends from Chief Looking Glass Park in Asotin (N46˚21’ W117˚3’) to Clarkston (N46˚26’ W117˚3’).  ON the Idaho side, the trail extends upstream on the Snake River to Hells Gate State Park (N46˚22’ W117˚4’) and upstream on the Clearwater River levees (N46˚26’ W116˚59’).

Nez Perce-Nee Me Poo NRT, Hells Canyon NHT, Oregon (N45˚48’ W116˚44’), is a five-mile trail connecting Forest Road 4260 to Dug Bar. The trailhead is two miles north of the Cow Creek Bridge. It features views from Lone Pine Saddle and flowering prickly pear cactus in the spring.

Pine Lake Loop NRT, Turnbull NWR, Washington (N47˚25’ W117˚32’) is a one-mile trail offering wildlife and waterfowl viewing opportunities at Winslow Pool and Pine Lake.

Pine Ridge NRT, Kamiak Butte County Park, Whitman County, Washington (N46º52’ W117º10’) is a three-mile loop trail encircling the national natural landmark feature (see Steptoe Butte NNL) north of Pullman, Washington.

Spokane River Centennial Trail NRT and State Park, Washington, begins at the Idaho State Line (N47˚42’ W117˚1’) and continues 37 miles west, ending at Nine Mile Falls (N47˚47’ W117˚33’). The trail is paved for the entire length.

Western Rim/Summit Ridge NRT, Hells Canyon NRA and Hells Canyon Wilderness, Oregon, follows the western rim of Hells Canyon from PO Saddle (N45˚15’ W116˚46’) to Saddle Creek (N45˚24’ W116˚44’) south of Hat Point. It continues northward from Warnock Corral (N45˚29’ W116˚39’) to Dug Bar (N45˚48’ W116˚41’) on the Snake River, passing Somers Point (N45˚37’ W116˚32’) and Lords Flat (N45˚40’ W116˚37’) before descending to Dug Bar.

The National Wild and Scenic River system in the Palouse grasslands includes four rivers.Grande Ronde River, BLM, Oregon, is a wild and scenic river for 44 miles from the confluence with the Wallowa River (N45˚44’ W117˚47’) in the Blue Mountains ecoregion downstream to the Washington state line at river mile 39 (N46˚0’ W117˚23’) in the Palouse Prairie. The section in Washington downstream to the Snake River is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system.

John Day River, BLM, Oregon, is the longest undammed river in the northwest. It is a wild and scenic river for 147.5 miles. Terrain is high desert canyons and vegetation is sagebrush. It is listed as a wild river for outstanding scenery, recreation, fish, wildlife, geology, paleontology, archaeology, and history. The Wild and Scenic River designation extends from River Mile 10 at Tumwater Falls (N45˚40’ W120˚30’) in the Palouse Prairie upstream to Service Creek in the Blue Mountains at the junction of State Routes 207 and 19 (N44˚48’ W120˚0’).

Segments 1 and 2 in the river management plan are in the Palouse Prairie. Segment 1 is the lower John Day River, downstream from Cottonwood Bridge (River Mile 40) on State Route 206 (N45˚29’ W120˚28’) to Tumwater Falls. There is an Oregon National Historic Trail crossing at McDonald Ferry (RM 21), and boating access at Cottonwood Bridge. Vertical cliffs along this segment of the river are 500 feet high.

Segment 2 in the BLM river management plan is between Clarno on State Route 218 (N44˚55’ W120˚28’) at River Mile 109 and Cottonwood Bridge at River Mile 40. Between these two points there is no public river access, and the river is lined by 1,000-foot-deep canyon walls, some of which are adorned with petroglyphs.

Imnaha River, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, Oregonis a wild and scenic river for 60 miles in the national recreation area from the Eagle Cap Wilderness (N45˚6’ W117˚4’) downstream to the Snake River (N45˚49’ W116˚46’). Its elevation drop is more than 7,000 feet.

Joseph Creek, Wallowa National Forest, Oregon, is a wild and scenic river for nine miles from Joseph Creek Ranch (N45˚48’ W117˚11’) downstream to the Wallowa NF boundary (N45˚52’ W117˚15’). It is a 2,000-foot-deep canyon with exposed rimrock.

The National Wildlife Refuge system of the US includes two refuges and one fish hatchery. In Canada, there are two nationally designated wildlife areas. McKay Creek NWR, Oregon, is described under McKay Reservoir under federal recreation lakes.

Turnbull NWR, Washington (N47˚26’ W117˚34’), is 18,200 acres in the channeled scablands near Cheney. There is a diverse mosaic of habitats created by ice age floods, including 10,000 acres of ponderosa pine, 4,000 acres of prairie, 3,000 acres of wetlands, and 130 marshes which provide habitat for waterfowl and mammals. An auto tour route and hiking trails are available. The Pine Lake Loop trail is designated as a NRT (see). Turnbull Pine RNA (N47˚27’ W117˚30’) is a pristine ponderosa pine savanna.

Vaseux-Bighorn National Wildlife Area, British Columbia (N49˚17’ W119˚33’) consists of 800 ha in six areas surrounding Vaseux Lake on both sides of Route 97 south of Okanagan Falls. Species protected include bighorn sheep and 30 species using rare grassland plant communities.

Vaseux Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary, British Columbia (N49˚17’ W119˚32’) is an Important Bird Area for Lewis’ woodpecker, western screech owl, and yellow-breasted chat. This area is south of Okanagan Falls on Route 97.

Winthrop National Fish Hatchery, Washington (N48˚28’ W120˚11’) is in the Methow Valley off State Route 20 and provides Chinook salmon for the Columbia River fisheries management restoration program.

There are three designated National Wilderness areas in the Palouse grasslands.

Hells Canyon Wilderness, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and BLM, Idaho-Oregon, is 218,000 acres along the Snake River. In Idaho, it includes Hells Canyon from Willow Creek at Snake River Mile 228 to Hells Canyon Dam at Snake River Mile 248. In Oregon, it extends from Dug Bar at Snake River Mile 197 southward to Snake River Mile 260 south of Nelson Creek. The Snake River corridor itself is excluded from the wilderness. The Oregon trailhead in the Palouse Prairie is at Dug Bar (N45˚48’ W116˚41’), providing access to the Summit Ridge-Western Rim National Recreation Trail. Bob Creek RNA (N45˚45’ W116˚34’) is a 100-acre area in Oregon near the Snake River with smooth sumac/bluebunch wheatgrass communities. Pleasant Valley RNA (N45˚38’ W116˚31’) is a 1,400-acre area in Oregon near the Snake River with sand dropseed, bluebunch wheatgrass, Idaho fescue, and smooth sumac plant communities. Bill’s Creek RNA (N45˚26’ W116˚35’) is a 40-acre site in Idaho on the Snake River with sand dropseed, red three-awn and hackberry communities. Alum Beds RNA (N45˚30’ W116˚32’) is a 600-acre area with Snake River greenbush rims and a hot spring community.

Juniper Dunes Wilderness, BLM, Washington (N46˚23’ W118˚51’) contains Washington’s largest sand dunes, 130 feet high, and its largest groves of western juniper, along with rare plants.  To the west of the 7,000-acre wilderness is a 3,900-acre OHV area and an 8,600-acre Area of Critical Environmental Concern, which also contains dunes. The area is accessed from Peterson Road northeast of Pasco.

Spring Basin Wilderness, BLM, Oregon (N44˚52’ W120˚23’), is 6,400 acres adjacent to the John Day River and south of the Clarno Unit of John Day National Monument. It includes Horse Mountain, Sheep Mountain, and Black Rock. Vegetation is big sagebrush, bunchgrass, and western juniper.

to be continued

Palouse Grasslands, Part I

The Palouse grasslands (NA813) as delineated by the World Wildlife Fund and Nature Conservancy include portions of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington which are in the rain shadow of the Cascades. This description also includes the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia because of its grassland habitat extending north from the US-Canada border. The ecoregion is characterized by native bluebunch wheatgrass and Idaho fescue with scattered shrubs. The habitat is maintained by fire. Locations within the Palouse grasslands are described below. Many areas have been extensively modified by agriculture; the agricultural landscape is characterized by yellow rapeseed flowers in the spring. Cities in the habitat include Osoyoos, British Columbia; Cheney, Chelan, Okanogan, Pullman, and Walla Walla, Washington; Moscow and Lewiston, Idaho; and Pendleton, Oregon.

The areas of the Palouse grasslands between Spokane and Grand Coulee are part of the Channeled Scablands, an unusual landscape of scour channels called coulees and dry river valleys that once carried tremendous amounts of water. The idea that these features were created during a catastrophic flood was first proposed during the 1920s by J. Harlen Bretz. His proposals were met with skepticism until the source of the flood, a failed ice dam at glacial Lake Missoula, was confirmed at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in the 1940s (Baker 1978). Other evidence of glaciation is evident in the Palouse grasslands at Boulder Park and Sims Corner National Natural Landmarks described below.

There is one National Historic Landmark in the Palouse grasslands ecoregion. Marmes Rockshelter, Washington (N46˚35’ W118˚13’), is at the confluence of the Snake and Palouse Rivers, but is now submerged by Lower Monumental Reservoir.  The site provides evidence of human occupation for over 8,000 years and contains the oldest human remains excavated in the New World, at 11,000 years BP. Also found at the site was a Jefferson Peace Medal, evidence of contact with the Lewis and Clark expedition.

There are 13 National Natural Landmarks in the Palouse grasslands ecoregion.

Boulder Park and McNeil Canyon Haystack Rocks, Washington (N47˚53’ W119˚48’ (Boulder Park) and N47˚50’ W119˚54’ (McNeil Canyon)) have the greatest concentration of glacial erratics in the Columbia Plateau. The two sites are east of Chelan and east of the Columbia River on the Waterville Plateau.  McNeil Canyon is on the east side of the Columbia River north of the US Route 97 crossing.  Boulder Park is seven miles west of Mansfield, then four miles north of Route 172.

Davis Canyon Natural Area Preserve, Washington (N48˚15’ W119˚46’) is a 415-acre site and the largest and least disturbed antelope bitterbrush-Idaho fescue community known.  It is located south of Okanogan and west of the Okanogan River.

Grand Coulee, Washington, is between the town of Grand Coulee (N47˚56’ W119˚1’) on the Columbia River and Soap Lake (N47˚24’ W119˚30’). This 50-mile-long ice age flood channel was carved by the periodic floods originating from Lake Missoula. Perhaps a highlight of the steep-sided channel is the dramatic Dry Falls (N47˚36’ W119˚21’)), a 400-foot dry waterfall 3.5 miles wide, now in Sun Lakes/Dry Falls State Park. Also occupying Grand Coulee upstream of Dry Falls is Banks Lake/Dry Falls Dam (N47˚37’ W119˚19’), a Bureau of Reclamation irrigation storage facility within the Columbia Project, and Steamboat Rock State Park (N47˚52’ W119˚8’), a steep-sided mountain surrounded by the flood channel.

Grande Ronde Feeder Dikes, Washington (N46˚3’ W117˚15’), are examples of the basalt dikes which fed the Columbia flood basalt event during a plate boundary collision. The privately owned site is at State Route 129 at the Grande Ronde River.

Grande Ronde Goosenecks, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Grande Ronde Area of Critical Environmental Concern and Chief Joseph Wildlife Management Area, Washington (N46˚3’ W117˚1’), illustrate the regional uplift of the Columbia Plateau, with stream entrenchment into the uplifted area. In this area, extreme elevation changes range from less than 1,000 feet to more than 4,000 feet, with a 1,500-foot-deep canyon along the lower Grande Ronde River.

Kahlotus Ridgetop Natural Area Preserve, Washington (N46˚42’ W118˚34’), is four miles north of Kahlotus off State Route 21.  This 240-acre native prairie remnant is the best remaining example of Palouse prairie grassland.

Lawrence Memorial Grassland Preserve, The Nature Conservancy, Oregon (N44˚57’ W120˚48’) is three miles southwest of Shaniko off State Route 218; this area has peculiar biscuit-shaped mounds 10 to 20 m wide and 100-120 cm high. There are undisturbed grasslands of bunchgrass with sagebrush.

Rose Creek Preserve, Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute, Washington (N46˚50’ W117˚13’), is on Shawnee Road northeast of Albion and is the best remaining example of aspen-black hawthorne-cow parsnip habitat in the Columbia Plateau.

Sims Corner Eskers and Kame Complex, Washington (N45˚50’ W119˚22), are at the junction of Routes 17 and 172 north of Coulee City. Numerous glacial features are evident, including scattered glacial erratics, eskers, and kames.  Glacial erratics are boulders which rode on top of the ice and are out of place compared to the surrounding geology.  Eskers are long winding ridges which formed in streams under glaciers. Kames are irregularly shaped hills formed by retreating glaciers. Route 172 heading west from Sims Corner passes several eskers, the Pot Hills, and Yeager Rock, a 20-foot high glacial erratic just east of Mansfield.

Steptoe Butte State Park, Washington (N47º2’ W117º18’) and Kamiak Butte County Park, Whitman County, Washington (N46º52’ W117º10’) are quartzite outliers of the Coeur d’Alene Mountains in the Palouse Prairie. Both mountains rise more than 1,000 feet above the surrounding terrain and provide 200-mile vistas. The Pine Ridge National Recreation Trail encircles Kamiak Butte.

Withrow Moraine and Jameson Lake Drumlin Field, Washington (N47˚41’ W119˚37’), are on the 4,000-acre Nature Conservancy Moses Coulee Preserve. Withrow Moraine is the terminal lobe and debris deposit of the Okanagon Glacier which blocked Moses Coulee, forcing the Columbia River to form the Grand Coulee. Under the glacier were the egg-shaped grooved hills called drumlins, which are visible to the east of Jameson Lake. The Dutch Henry Falls hiking trail (N47˚39’ W119˚40’) goes by a 200-foot wall of rocks, part of the Withrow Moraine. Dutch Henry Falls is north of US Route 2 in the Moses Coulee. South of US Route 2 is McCartney Creek Meadows (N47˚30’ W119˚44’), also on the preserve. The preserve is home to the pygmy rabbit, spotted bat, and 14 of the 15 bat species that inhabit Washington. Moses Coulee is an IBA for songbird migration.

Zumwalt Prairie Preserve, The Nature Conservancy, Oregon (N45˚33’ W116˚55’), is a 33,000-acre property, 4,000 acres of which were designated a national natural landmark. Elevations range from 2,000 to 5,500 feet on the largest remaining intact bunchgrass prairie in North America. Four trails have been developed for access, and Duckett Road (County Road 676) provides a ten-mile drive from high elevation prairie to the canyon near Imnaha. Trails are Horned Lark Trail off of Zumwalt-Buckhorn Road (County Road 697 north of State Route 82 at Enterprise); and Patti’s Trail, Harsin Butte Trail, and Canyon Vista Trail, all off of Duckett Road.

The National Forest System in the Palouse grasslands includes two national forests and the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area (NRA), Idaho-Oregon, which is 652,000 acres. The Dug Bar site of the Nez Perce NHP (see) is located on the Snake River within the NRA. It is accessible by following the Imnaha River Road north (downstream) through the NRA from Imnaha. Imnaha River is a wild and scenic river for 60 miles in the national recreation area from the Eagle Cap Wilderness (N45˚6’ W117˚4’) downstream to the Snake River (N45˚49’ W116˚46’). Its elevation drop is more than 7,000 feet. The Imnaha River Road (Forest Road 3955) follows the Imnaha River upstream to the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway. Basin Creek RNA (N45˚40’ W116˚49’) is a 400-acre area near the Imnaha River with Idaho fescue and bluebunch wheatgrass plant communities. Hat Point Road (Forest Road 4240) climbs from the Imnaha River (N45˚33’ W116˚49’) up the cliffs of Grizzly Ridge to Saddle Creek Overlook and on to Hat Point (N45˚26’ W116˚40’) for one of the most spectacular views. It is a one-lane unpaved road. Buckhorn Overlook (N45˚45’ W116˚49’) and Cache Creek Ranch on the Snake River (N45˚59’ W116˚54’) are also in the Palouse Prairie portion of the NRA.

Wallowa NF, Oregon, is 995,000 acres, administered together with the Whitman NF. Much of the eastern portion is part of the Hells Canyon NRA (see separate description). Joseph Creek is a wild and scenic river for nine miles from Joseph Creek Ranch (N45˚48’ W117˚11’) downstream to the Wallowa NF boundary (N45˚52’ W117˚15’). It is a 2,000-foot-deep canyon with exposed rimrock. To the east of Joseph Creek is Haystack Rock RNA (N45˚53’ W117˚13’), which is 425 acres with Idaho fescue, bluebunch wheatgrass, and Talus garland plant communities. Also to the east of Joseph Creek is Horse Pasture Ridge RNA (N45˚53’ W117˚12’), 340 acres with Idaho fescue and bunchgrass plant communities. The Joseph Canyon Viewpoint (N45˚50’ W117˚16’), a site of the Nez Perce National Historical Park, is located on State Route 3 south of the Washington State Line. The deep canyon to the east of Route 3 is Swamp Creek, which contains outstanding scenery from its confluence with Joseph Creek (N45˚49’ W117˚4’) upstream to the forest boundary (N45˚36’ W117˚13’). To the southeast, Vance Knoll RNA (N45˚42’ W116˚57’) is 190 acres of scabland with a Sandberg’s bluegrass/one-spike oatgrass plant community.

The southeastern portion of the forest is mostly the watershed of Big Sheep Creek, which is eligible for the national wild and scenic river system from the Eagle Cap Wilderness boundary (N45˚11’ W117˚6’) to the Imnaha River confluence (N45˚33’ W116˚50’).

Wenatchee NF, Washington, includes lower slopes of the eastern Cascades that include grasslands along the Columbia River. The Thompson Clover RNA (N47˚34’ W120˚18’) is just north of Rocky Reach Dam/Lake Entiat in Swakane Canyon and includes a rare species of clover on grassy hillsides below ponderosa pine woodland.

The National Park System in the Palouse grasslands ecoregion includes four parks, of which one is paleontological, two are historic, and one is a national recreation area. John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon, consists of three units, which together provide the most complete record of terrestrial land mammal evolution in the northern Hemisphere extending over 44 million years. One unit is in the Palouse Prairie ecoregion. Clarno Unit (N44˚55’ W120˚25’) is 2,000 acres on State Route 218 between the towns of Antelope and Fossil. It features trails leading to an arch and petrified wood and is known for 150-foot-high rock formations overlooking the area called The Palisades. The Clarno Nut Beds contain 175 species of trees, shrubs, and trees from a tropical forest that lived 44 million years ago. Clarno is also the most species-rich petrified wood area in the world, and fossil panthers, horses, crocodiles have been found. The Hancock Mammal Quarry (40 million years old) contains fossil horses, brontotheres, and bear-like mammals. The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry operates Hancock Field Station (N44˚55’ W120˚26’) as a private inholding in the Clarno Unit. It is used for school field trips and as an educational camp.

Nez Perce National Historical Park, Idaho-Montana-Oregon-Washington, consists of sites commemorating the stories, events, and artifacts of the Nez Perce Tribe. Of the 38 sites comprising the park, 22 are in the Palouse Prairie:

  • Ant and Yellowjacket, Idaho (N46˚27’ W116˚51’), commemorates a story about an argument between Ant and Yellowjacket which resulted in them being turned into a stone arch. The site is nine miles east of Lewiston on US Route 12.
  • Buffalo Eddy, Washington (N46˚11’ W116˚57’) is 15 miles south of Asotin on the Snake River and is the site of petroglyphs dating to 4,500 before present.
  • Camas Prairie, Idaho (N45˚55’ W116˚14’) is south of Grangeville on US Route 95.  This was a root gathering area for the Nez Perce tribe.
  • Confluence Overlook, Idaho (N46˚27’ W117˚1’) is at the top of Lewiston Hill on US 95. It provides an overlook of a trading post site at the confluence of the Clearwater and Snake Rivers.
  • Canoe Camp, Idaho (N46˚30’ W116˚20’), at the confluence of the North Fork Clearwater and Clearwater, was where the Lewis and Clark expedition built canoes for travel to the Pacific Ocean in 1805. The site is four miles west of Orofino on US Route 12.
  • Clearwater Battlefield, Idaho (N46˚5’ W115˚59’), on State Route 13 south of Stites,  is the site of an 1877 attempt to engage the Nez Perce, but the tribe withdrew.
  • Cottonwood Skirmishes, Idaho (N46˚1’ W116˚20’), took place two miles south of Cottonwood on US Route 95. This was the site of additional hostility between the US Army and the Nez Perce after the White Bird Battle.
  • Coyote’s Fishnet, Idaho (N46˚27’ W116˚53’) is a group of rock formations on US 95-12 seven miles east of Lewiston which commemorates a story about an argument between Coyote and Black Bear.
  • Craig Donation Land Claim, Idaho (N46˚21’ W116˚46’) is located on US Route 95 south of Lapwai. William Craig was a mountain man and the first Euro-American settler in Idaho. In 1840, he settled in the Lapwai Valley. He was an interpreter in the negotiations that led to the establishment of the Nez Perce Reservation, and as a result he was allowed to keep his homestead.
  • Dug Bar, Oregon (N45˚48’ W116˚41’), is on the Snake River in Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and Snake Wild and Scenic River. The site is best accessed by boat, but there is a road from the Imnaha River that can be driven by high clearance vehicle. Tribal members who lived in Oregon crossed the Snake River here in 1877 on their way to the reservation in Idaho. The crossing was in the spring when the water was high, making the crossing more hazardous than usual and resulting in the loss of cattle.
  • Hasotino Village, Lower Granite Reservoir, Idaho (N46˚21’ W117˚3’) is an 11,000-year-old prehistoric village site used for lamprey fishing.
  • Fort Lapwai and Northern Idaho Indian Agency, Idaho (N46˚24’ W116˚49’) are on US Route 95 south of Spalding. This is the location of an 1862 US Army fort and the agency set up to administer the treaties with the tribes in the area.
  • Lenore, Idaho (N46˚31’ W116˚37’) is on US Route 12 about 25 miles east of Lewiston and is the site of a prehistoric Nez Perce village with pit houses.
  • Lostine Campsite, Oregon (N45˚33’ W117˚29’) is at the junction of the Lostine and Wallowa Rivers near Wallowa. This is a traditional Nez Perce summer campsite where Old Chief Joseph died in 1871.
  • Nez Perce Cemetery and Nez Perce Campsites, Washington (N48˚10’ W118˚59’), are in Nespelem on the Colville Reservation and not publicly accessible. The graves of Chief Joseph the Younger and other participants in the war of 1877 are here. They moved here after exile in Oklahoma.
  • Old Chief Joseph’s Gravesite, Oregon (N45˚20’ W117˚13’) is in a cemetery on State Route 82 near Wallowa Lake dam. The father of Chief Joseph was reburied here in 1926 among other Nez Perce graves. He signed the original treaty of 1855 but refused to sign other treaties and compelled his son, Chief Joseph, to never agree to sell the homeland.
  • St. Joseph’s Mission, Idaho (N46˚19’ W116˚43’) is located on Mission Creek Road off US 95 west of Culdesac. This was a Catholic mission to the Nez Perce, established in 1874 on the reservation.
  • Spalding, Idaho (N46˚27’ W116˚49’), is the site of the 1836 Spalding Presbyterian Mission to the Nez Perce, as well as cemeteries, a church, and general store associated with the town of Spalding. The village site at the confluence of Lapwai Creek and the Clearwater River has been occupied for as much as 10,000 years. The park visitor center is located at this site, which is on US 95 about 11 miles east of Lewiston.
  • Tolo Lake, Idaho (N45˚55’ W116˚14’) is the site of Tepahlewah, an ancient council ground. In 1877, bands forced to leave Oregon congregated here before moving onto the reservation to the north. In 1994, fossil mammoths were found in lake sediments. The site is west of Grangeville on the Camas Prairie.
  • Weis Rockshelter, Idaho (N45˚57’ W116˚22’), is the site of an 8,000-year-old prehistoric habitation in Rocky Canyon, used up until 600 years ago.
  • White Bird Battlefield, Idaho (N45˚47’ W116˚7’) is south of Grangeville on US Route 95.  In 1877, this was the first battle of the Nez Perce War, resulting in a defeat of the US Calvary and the beginning of the ultimately unsuccessful flight to Canada. Following the battle, the Nez Perce attempted to make it to the Lolo Trail over the mountains; some skirmishes were fought south of Cottonwood on US Route 95 at the Cottonwood Skirmishes (N46˚1’ W116˚20’).

Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area, Washington, which includes a strip of reservoir lands between elevations 1290 and 1310 along the Columbia River impounded by Grand Coulee Dam, extends into the Palouse Prairie ecoregion between Grand Coulee Dam (N47˚57’ W118˚59’) and Fort Spokane (N47˚54’ W118˚18’) on the Columbia River and between Fort Spokane and Little Falls Dam (N47˚50’ W117˚55’) on the Spokane River. The lands on the north side of the Spokane River fronting the Spokane Indian Reservation are not part of the NRA; neither are the lands of the Colville Indian Reservation on the north side of the Columbia River. The portion of the NRA in the Palouse Prairie ecoregion includes Fort Spokane, Spring Canyon-Bunchgrass Prairie Nature Trail, and the Grand Coulee Dam area. Fort Spokane is a western military frontier fort operated between 1880 and 1898. At Fort Spokane is a 1.6-mile interpretive trail. Spring Canyon (N47˚56’ W118˚56’) is an ice age flood area.

Whitman Mission National Historic Site, Washington (N46˚2’ W118˚28’) was established to commemorate the 1847 killing of missionaries by the Cayuse Tribe. The mission was established in 1836 but is believed to have had little success in converting tribal members. It later became a site on the Oregon Trail. It was burned in 1848 during the ensuing war between the settlers and the tribe. The 100-acre park includes the foundations of mission buildings and Oregon Trail ruts and is seven miles west of Walla Walla. The mission is not on the main National Historic Trail route but is related to the trail because the Whitmans assisted the first emigrants and helped blaze the main trail.

Reference

Baker,  Victor R. 1978. The Spokane Flood Controversy and the Martian Outflow Channels. Science 202:1249-1256.

to be continued