Oregon Buttes WSA Location: Sweetwater County
Nearest Town: Farson (30 miles)
BLM Acreage: 5,700 acres
Recommended for Wildlerness: 5,700 acres
Primitive & Unconfined Recreation:
Opportunities for primitive and unconfined recreation are outstanding in the WSA. Being prime raptor habitat, the buttes provide bird watchers with a variety of species and uninterrupted observation. The WSA is also a prime area for scenic and wildlife photography, offering a unique variety of settings and subjects. Other recreation opportunities include hiking, rock climbing, rock hounding, backpacking, hunting, horseback riding and sightseeing.
The Oregon Buttes WSA encompasses 5,700 acres of BLM-administered land with no private or state inholdings. The buttes are a prominent landmark, rising out of the northwestern portion of the Red Desert to an elevation of 8,612 feet. The area includes a wide variety of vegetation types including limber pine stands, thick aspen stands and wet meadows. The Oregon Buttes are an island in the Red Desert and were a landmark for settlers traveling the Oregon Trail.
The Oregon Buttes WSA appears to be in an essentially natural condition. The buttes are a remarkable landmark. They dominate the surrounding countryside with their grandeur and diversity. Visibility from the butte tops is outstanding, offering miles of scenic vistas including the Wind River Mountains on the north to the Unitah Mountain Range to the southwest.
There are two seismograph trails and 13 two-track trails, which slightly reduce the naturalness of the WSA. However, all of these intrusions become obscure; some end as haphazard tire tracks across the hills and dry clay-like soil, others end abruptly at the top of a bench or saddle ridge, and others are overgrown with sagebrush and grass.
Opportunities for solitude are good. However, much of this is due to the undeveloped nature of the surrounding countryside. The tops of the Buttes are relatively inaccessible. This plus the scattered stands of limber pine on top provide screening from the immediate surrounding terrain, providing solitude and immense vistas of the surrounding countryside.
A great number of special features are found in this WSA. Small pieces of petrified wood are abundant. The Oregon Buttes is a major landmark for travelers of the Oregon Trail, which is located less than seven miles to the north of the WSA. Emigrants viewed the Buttes as the halfway point on their journey from Independence, Mo., to the Pacific Ocean. The Buttes also denoted the point where the emigrants passed over the Continental Divide and into the Pacific watershed. Nearly 300,000 emigrants passed this way between 1843 and 1863.
The western portion of the Oregon Buttes WSA is used as a calving area by the only desert elk herd in Wyoming. The WSA contains excellent raptor habitat and several known nest sites. There are historic peregrine falcon aeries on the west face of Oregon Buttes. Immature peregrine falcons are infrequently seen there during raptor surveys.
The remains of Indian tipi rings can be found in the Oregon Buttes Cultural ACEC portion of the WSA.
The objectives for managing the Oregon Buttes Cultural ACED (3,360 acres of which are in the 5,700 acre Oregon Buttes WSA) include the protection of the area’s scenic integrity as a historic landmark.