Tamarack Cabin offers outdoor enthusiasts a quaint cabin with epic views atop Tamarack Mountain. The cabin can accommodate four guests, and a short walk through the trees awards a unique opportunity to view miles of the Umatilla National Forest from sunup to sundown.
The site was originally used as a fire detection lookout. The original structure was a platform built on a high tree in 1925. It was replaced with a 96-foot Aermotor tower in 1933, and a neighboring cabin was built to house Forest Service employees. A utility shed was also built. When the cabin burnt down in 1966, the shed was converted into housing. That same shed is where guests can stay today. The tower is also still standing, and when the tower is staffed, visitors are welcome to climb up and enjoy the view.
Over 26 miles of trails throughout the Heppner Ranger District can be accessed from the cabin for hiking or horseback riding. Plentiful fishing opportunities abound in nearby streams and Bull Prairie Lake. Many roads are open to off-road vehicles, and 28 miles of designated trails are available. Other activities include hunting, wildlife viewing and bird watching. This site is not open in the winter.
The cozy converted shed offers one room with amenities including propane lights, a heating stove and cook stove, cookware, silverware and dishes. Furnishings consist of two sets of twin bunkbeds, a cabinet for clothes, table with four chairs, and a rocking chair on the small front porch. There is a picnic table and fire ring outside, though fire danger may restrict campfires, so check for conditions with the Ranger District prior to arrival. There is also a nearby outhouse.
No water is onsite, so visitors must bring plenty for drinking, cooking and washing. There is no refrigerator either, so come prepared with a cooler and ice. Guests must bring food, water, ice chest with ice, bedding, toiletries, a first aid kit, flashlights, matches and all other basic camping gear. Click here for more cabin details.
At 4,979 feet above sea level, Tamarack Mountain overlooks the John Day River basin, between Spray and Kimberly. The lookout and the mountain it tops are named after the western larch, a tree that is particularly plentiful in the Blue and Wallowa Mountains. Western tanagers and dusty flycatchers frequent the area and purple-blue spikes of lupine, white and pink yarrow and yellow balsamroot add bursts of color to the landscape.
Heppner is the nearest town with a general store, which is about an hour’s drive away.
Off-road vehicle enthusiasts enjoy Morrow County OHV Park, located 14 miles southwest. There are some food options and ice for sale at this site.