Plan Your Visit
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 over 6,400 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.
To download YOUR copy of the Spring Basin Wilderness Area brochure, click here (PDF).
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.
Downloadable maps are available on the Spring Basin Wilderness maps page. The USGS 1:24,000 topographic maps for Spring Basin are:
- Clarno Quad
- Muddy Ranch Quad
- Porcupine Butte Quad
- Jennies Peak Quad
Know Before You Go
Visitors can help in protecting this fragile ecosystem by adequately planning and by arriving prepared! Knowledge of the area, weather, terrain, and common sense can help to ensure you have safe, fun, and memorable trip to the wild. Trail junctions are generally unsigned, so you should carry a map and a compass. And always be sure to bring your ten essentials!
Leave No Trace
Leave No Trace refers to a set of outdoor ethics that emphasizes principles designed to promote conservation in the outdoors—it also makes good common sense. Leave No Trace is built on Seven Principles: Plan Ahead and Prepare, Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces, Dispose of Waste Properly, Leave What You Find, Minimize Campfire Impacts, Respect Wildlife, and Be Considerate of Other Visitors.
Plan Ahead and Prepare
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
Dispose of Waste Properly
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in "catholes" dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the "cathole" when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
Leave What You Find
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
Minimize Campfire Impacts
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.