Diamond Loop Tour Route
Winding through a variety of high desert habitats, the Diamond Loop Tour Route offers wildlife watching, the historic Round Barn and the fascinating geologic formations of the Diamond Craters.
Along the Marsh
You’ll begin on the Diamond Loop Tour Route by heading east on South Diamond Lane, through the southern section of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. An important stopping point along the Pacific Flyway, the refuge Refuge offers a wonderful opportunity for viewing of a variety of bird species from waterfowl and shorebirds to hawks and eagles. Mule deer and antelope also make their home here.
Diamond in the Rough
Diamond is a small ranching community that takes its name from rancher Mace McCoy’s diamond brand. It was established as a major supply center for ranchers, sheepherders, and travelers. Today, all that remains of the town of Diamond is the recently renovated Hotel Diamond, a store and a few residences. East of Diamond, an 11-mile dirt road leads to the Kiger Mustangs Viewing Area. These distinctive wild horses are believed to closely resemble the horses brought to North America by the Spaniards in the late 16th century.
Historic Round Barn
Continuing north, you’ll reach the Pete French Round Barn, built in the late 1870′s or early 1880′s by its namesake. The barn is 100 feet in diameter featuring a 60-foot round stone corral surrounded by a 20-foot wide outer circle paddock with an umbrella-type center truss and centrally supported rafters. Its unusual design was perfectly suited for its purpose: breaking horses during long eastern Oregon winters. The Visitor Center at the site offers exhibits and souvenirs.
Driving west on Lava Beds Road, you’ll soon come to Diamond Craters Outstanding Natural Area, home to some of America’s most diverse basaltic volcanic formations. The craters were formed when molten basalt spilled from fissures in the earth and flooded in a thin layer over a dry lake bed. Before the initial layer cooled completely, more basaltic magma injected underneath, creating six arching structural domes. A self-guided tour highlights Lava Pit Crater, Graben Dome and other noteworthy features of the site.
Nearby Scenic Byways
Looking for more Scenic Byways nearby? Here are some suggestions…
There are seven bridges along the route, including Dorena Bridge, Stewart Bridge, Mosby Creek Bridge, Currin Bridge, Chambers Railroad Bridge, Centennial Bridge, and Swinging Bridge. Many of these bridges are used for weddings or are near swimming…
This 143-mile tour skirts along the eastern escarpment of Steens Mountain and the vast expanses of the Alvord Desert, providing a scenic study in dramatic contrasts.
The 59-mile loop departs from Frenchglen and climbs to the very top of Steens Mountain, which rests in the clouds at nearly 10,000 feet. Along the way, you’ll have ample opportunity to view wildlife and take in the grandeur of a national treasure.
Is any of the information on this page incorrect?
Keep in mind many of the routes listed here travel through remote areas where gas stations are few and far between. And since road and weather conditions can be hazardous, even into summer, we urge you to call 800-977-6368 or check Trip Check before starting out.