Today on the Land Use Trail: Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge

Throughout the summer, we'll be featuring stops on our new Land Use Trail. Today, August 16: Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge (NAR). For almost 80 years, the Refuge helped ensure 300 documented species continue to thrive high in the “Oregon Outback”.

About: Few American wildlife refuges come close to the sheer immensity and biodiversity of Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge in Lake County. Created in 1936 in a remote section of Lake County, the 278,000-acre refuge is home to more than 300 species of wildlife, including the pronghorn antelope. A rugged terrain of canyons, wetlands, and sagebrush grasslands, the Refuge is a place of great beauty and welcome solitude for thousands of human visitors annually.

Key Fact: In 1936, by executive order, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Hart Mountain NAR as a protected range and breeding ground for wildlife—especially pronghorn antelope and “sage hen”, or greater sage grouse. There are about 1,900 pronghorn in the park. Pronghorn antelope are only found in North America and are not related to the true antelope of Asia and Africa.

Another Cool Fact: Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, in his memoir My Wilderness (1960), wrote: “I always feel sad leaving Hart Mountain. Yet after I travel a few hours and see its great bulk against a southern sky my heart rejoices. This refuge will leave our grandsons and granddaughters an inheritance of the wilderness that no dollars could recreate.”

Visit:  Hart Mountain NAR is about 65 miles northeast of Lakeview, and is quite remote. Some of the best ways to experience the enormous site are camping, horseback riding, and hiking—although a car makes an excellent bird blind. Just be sure you’re ready for sudden storms and wet conditions.

While you’re in Lake County, check out some other fun things to do.

Learn More:

Going to Hart Mountain this summer? Share your photos with us! We'll pass them on. Several ways to share!

See the whole Land Use Trail, featuring exceptional Oregon natural places, communities, and working lands from every corner of our state.

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Text by Nathen Lamb, Communications Intern. Photo: Blake Matheson. Creative Commons.