Deschutes National Forest
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Outdoor recreation opportunities attract thousands to Central Oregon and the Deschutes National Forest. Warmer weather brings anglers, hikers, bicyclists, horseback riders, and campers to the Forest’s rivers, lakes, mountains, and trails. Winter visitors ski the Pacific Coast’s premier ski resort for alpine skiing while thousands enjoy National Forest Nordic skiing or ride snowmobiles on marked trails.
The Deschutes has many established campgrounds located throughout the Forest. If you prefer more solitude or want to explore the backcountry, most of the Forest is open for dispersed or backcountry camping. Some regulations apply.
Portions of the Forest are open to off highway vehicle (four-wheel drive, ATV, motorcycle) and snowmobile use. Wildernesses, roadless areas, research and experimental forests, and certain wildlife winter ranges are closed to such vehicles. During the summer, many OHV operators use infrequently traveled logging roads and a few open trails. About 350 miles of snowmobile trails, 261 miles groomed, are open during the winter.
From the Cascade Mountains on its western border to the high desert country east of Bend, from the old growth ponderosa pine along the Metolius River to Crescent and Odell Lakes in the south, the Deschutes National Forest radiates variety. The Deschutes offers a scenic backdrop of volcanic mountains that form the crest of the Cascade Mountains, alpine forests, volcanic attractions, mountain lakes, caves, desert areas, and alpine meadows. Elevations range from 1,950 feet at Lake Billy Chinook to 10,358 feet on South Sister, the third highest peak in Oregon. Twenty peaks higher than 7,000 feet, including three of Oregon’s five highest peaks, are found within the Forest. More than 150 lakes and 500 miles of streams are also found here. Spelunkers and other explorers will find a number of caves and unique geological areas within the Forest.
You will find many unique areas within the Forest. Among these are five wilderness areas, six Wild and Scenic Rivers, Newberry National Volcanic Monument, and the Oregon Cascades Recreation Area. The Newberry National Volcanic Monument, southeast of Bend, attracts visitors with its cinder cones, pumice cones, lava flows, including obsidian flows, Lava Cast Forest, caves, lakes, streams, and waterfalls. Mt. Bachelor Ski and Summer Resort attracts nearly three-quarters of a million people annually.
The Five designated wilderness areas cover 183,000 acres within the Forest. Many hikers and horseback riders travel through the Three Sisters, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, Diamond Peak, and Mt. Thielsen wildernesses, all are jointly managed with other surrounding National Forests. Each Cascade wilderness contains volcanic peaks, glacial areas, and numerous high elevation lakes. One of the main attractions is the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, which winds through many of these wilderness areas.
The Forest’s six Wild and Scenic Rivers are the Upper Deschutes River, Little Deschutes River, Metolius River, Big Marsh Creek, Crescent Creek, and Squaw Creek. They attract people for activities as varied as angling and river rafting.
: With its huge elevation range, climate on the Deschutes changes drastically depending on elevation. The high elevations receive much more precipitation and colder temperatures. Much of the precipitation comes from October to April, mostly in the form of snow in the higher elevations. Winter temperatures can drop below zero degrees Fahrenheit. Late spring, summer and early autumn tend to bring clear, sunny days, with warm to hot temperatures at the low elevations and moderate temperatures at the higher elevations. Summer afternoon thunderstorms are not uncommon.
Location: The Deschutes National Forest encompasses more than 1.6 million acres of Central Oregon, extending for about 100 miles along the east side of the Cascade Mountains. The Forest lies to the west and south of Bend and is headquartered there. In addition to Bend, the Deschutes also has offices in Crescent and Sisters.
Contact Info: Deschutes National Forest1645 Highway 20 EastBendOR97701541-383-5300
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