Spring Basin Wilderness
What do you want from a Wilderness? Colorful geologic features! Rugged cliffs! Unique beauty! Outstanding opportunities for solitude! A neighboring wild and scenic river! The Spring Basin Wilderness has it all.
Designated as a wilderness in 2009, the area encompasses 6,378 acres of stunning scenery. Numerous vista points give the visitor a sweeping view of the John Day River valley and solitude is provided by the remote canyons and vegetative diversity. These highly scenic settings set the stage for outstanding opportunities for recreation activities such as photography, hiking, and nature study.
This area provides for a unique combination of ecosystems, including: Palouse grassland province/wheatgrass, bluegrass, and sagebrush steppe. At present, there are no similar wilderness areas containing both of these ecosystems with this type of biological diversity. Most portions of the Spring Basin area appear in a natural condition and are primarily affected by the forces of nature.
A closer look around will reveal a huge variety of wildlife species including mule deer, chukar, golden eagles, prairie falcons, bobcats, California quail, meadowlarks, and mountain bluebirds. Our friend, the northern bald eagle, is also an occasional winter resident.
Four plant species of special interest have been found within the area. Two species, Castilleja xanthotricha (yellow-hairy indian paint brush) and Astragalus diaphanus, are Federal candidates for listing under the Endangered Species Act. The other two, Penstemon eriantherus var. argillosus (fuzzytongue penstemon) and Pediocactus simpsoni var. robustior (Hedgehog cactus), are of limited concern within Oregon, according to the Oregon Natural Heritage Database.Outstanding opportunities for solitude can be found in the numerous side canyons. Hay Bottom Canyon and Eagle Canyon offer some of the best solitude. There are also numerous other areas offering the visitor secluded spots.
Spring Basin is located approximately three hours southeast of Portland and two hours northeast of Bend:
- When driving on Highway 218, turn south on Clarno road, located one mile east of the John Day River.
- Follow this dirt road 3.5 miles to the BLM kiosk and unimproved parking area at the base of Spring Basin.
- Trailhead/parking coordinates—Latitude: 44.86904, Longitude: -120.44006
Know Before You Go!
Be sure to stop by the BLM Prineville District Office if you have any questions, and bring along your 10 essentials. The USGS 1:24,000 topographic maps for Spring Basin are:
- Clarno Quad
- Muddy Ranch Quad
- Porcupine Butte Quad
- Jennies Peak Quad
Interested in seeing a little Spring Basin before you head out to the wilderness? Visit us on YouTube to see a short video.