Malheur National Forest

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About Malheur National Forest

Home to the Humongous Fungus (scientific name, Armillaria), the largest living organism on the ENTIRE planet is located just beneath your feet in Malheur National Forest! At 3.4 square miles, it lurks just below the surface waiting to pounce on unsuspected forest goers. And by “pounce” we mean very slowly sprout honey mushrooms, which is pretty much the only visible evidence that it exists. You’ll find plenty more than just fungus at this 1.7 million acre forest, as you dance by the river banks of the alpine lakes, frolic through wildflower meadows and sing (yodel?) your way through pine, fir, juniper and sage to the top of the Blue and Strawberry Mountains. Those are two separate ranges by the way, although blue strawberries would probably be delicious. This wonderful wilderness is not without peril, however, and we strongly suggest visiting the National Forest Website and calling the ranger station at 541-575-3000, before hand. It is also much to your advantage to check for weather and alerts as well as any necessary passes or permits you may need. Lastly, make sure to take a careful look at a map and plan your trip accordingly. Oh yeah we almost forgot. Don’t forget to have fun(gi)!

Campgrounds in Malheur

Dixie Campground

1. Dixie Campground

Berries and big game are the name of the game at Dixie Campground. During the summer, Dixie Campground is homebase to hikers who enjoy several...

2 Saves
Magone Lake Campground

2. Magone Lake Campground

Endless summer fun awaits you at Magone Lake Campground—get your tan on on the lake’s sandy beach, then cool off with a quick plunge in the clear...

2 Saves
Starr Campground

3. Starr Campground

Sometimes, you want to be in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes, you just want it easy. Starr Campground, just off Highway 395, offers effortless...

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Parish Cabin Campground

4. Parish Cabin Campground

Hunters and fisherman flock to Parish Cabin Campground for the area’s bangin’ big game hunting and a plethora of fish in nearby Bear Creek. This...

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Strawberry Campground

5. Strawberry Campground

Listen up, hikers, we’ve found your nirvana. Strawberry Campground Strawberry Campground calls the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness its neighbor, and...

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Head O' Boulder Forest Camp

6. Head O' Boulder Forest Camp

We all love a good morning in bed, but with Head O' Boulder Forest Camp tempting us, it’s not hard to hit the road before the sun does. Head O’...

Wickiup Campground

7. Wickiup Campground

Take a nap in Wickiup Campground, and you’ll wakeiup in paradise. Nestled amongst Ponderosa Pines and bordering Canyon Creek, Wickiup’s seven...

Murray Campground

8. Murray Campground

With three major hiking trails nearby, local creeks loaded with trout and a prime location for hunting big game like elk and deer, Murray...

Buck Spring Campground

9. Buck Spring Campground

Get a lot or a lil’ R&R at this wooded campground removed from beaten path of the Malheur National Forest. When you’re here, pack in and pack...

Lower Camp Creek Campground

10. Lower Camp Creek Campground

Six-site Lower Camp Creek Campground is most popular during late summer and fall for hunting season, but you’ll have a pleasant stay here at any...

Crescent Campground

11. Crescent Campground

Leave the checkbook at home, grab your gear, and camp free of charge at Crescent Campground! Crescent Creek’s four non-reservable sites offer...

Elk Creek Campground

12. Elk Creek Campground

Elk Creek Campground is what Ron Swanson’s dreams are made of. Its five first-come, first-served sites sit far back in the woods off Forest Road...

Billy Fields Forest Camp

13. Billy Fields Forest Camp

Come you wild stallions, and let your souls roam free amongst the mountain tops, rolling pines and creek beds of backcountry Oregon. Though your...

Crane Crossing Campground

14. Crane Crossing Campground

Talk about base camp, Crane Crossing’s dispersed camping is located right outside the North Fork Malheur Wild and Scenic River trailhead. Head west...

North Fork Malheur Campground

15. North Fork Malheur Campground

You can hunt big dudes like elk and deer near North Fork Malheur Campground, but this area is also known for its small game too (think turkey,...

Slide Horse Camp

16. Slide Horse Camp

Yeehaw! If you prefer to travel by four feet instead of two, Slide Horse Campground won’t let you down. Both you and your steed will enjoy an...

Tip Top Campground

17. Tip Top Campground

Oh, you fancy, huh? Tip Top Campground offers visitors three first come, first serve sites, with newly renovated restrooms, picnic tables and fire...

Emigrant Campground

18. Emigrant Campground

Emigrant Campground makes basic look good. Set amongst Ponderosa Pines and just a short drive from from the top of Snow Mountain and the Snow...

Falls Campground

19. Falls Campground

Roll out of your tent at Falls Campground, and you’ll find yourself in a fisherman’s paradise. This rarely-filled spot with six first-come,...

Alder Springs Camp

20. Alder Springs Camp

Great for a weekend hiking trip, this three-site primitive campground is smack dab in the middle of nowhere. Just how we like it! Accessible via...

Big Creek Campground

21. Big Creek Campground

Just south of the deliciously named Strawberry Mountains in the Logan Valley is where you’ll find this mile high 15-site campground! For $8 a night...

Oregon Mine Campground

22. Oregon Mine Campground

With access to tons of trails, fields of wildflowers and a corral for any of your four-hooved friends, Oregon Mine Campground is prettyyy choice....

Middle Fork Campground

23. Middle Fork Campground

Come one, come all to Middle Fork Campground—whether you’re interested in hiking, hunting or fishing (or all three!), this campground makes the...

Joaquin Miller Horse Camp

24. Joaquin Miller Horse Camp

Canter into Joaquin Miller Horse Camp and you’ll find four corrals and two hitching rails for your steady steed. There are 18 campsites up for...

Delintment Lake Campground

25. Delintment Lake Campground

We think the best day ever sounds a little like this: Wake up and rinse off in the lake, toss the goods in the canoe, and cast off to find the...

Idlewild Campground

26. Idlewild Campground

You’ll be anything but idle when you stay at Idlewild Campground—there are plenty of hiking, biking, and horseback riding opportunities in the...

Trout Farm Campground

27. Trout Farm Campground

Nostalgic for simpler times? Head out to Trout Farm Campground and leave that weekday grind behind. The campground’s six first-come, first-served...

Slide Creek Campground

28. Slide Creek Campground

Wilderness is your backyard at Slide Creek Campground. Set amongst ponderosa pine trees and bordering Slide Creek, these three first-come,...

Deerhorn Campground

29. Deerhorn Campground

It’s all in the name! If it’s game you seek, Deerhorn Campground is a great place to station yourself in the late summer and hunting seasons. This...

Canyon Meadows Campground

30. Canyon Meadows Campground

The best things in life are free--such as camping at Canyon Meadows Campground! We encourage hiking, hunting, wildlife and wildflower viewing as...

Rock Springs Campground

31. Rock Springs Campground

Visit outside of hunting season and boom! Snagging a spot is easy as pie. Trek out when when the big game hunters flock into the woods and prepare...

Yellowjacket Campground

32. Yellowjacket Campground

Pronghorn antelope, eagles, osprey, and chipmunks all make Yellowjacket Campground their home, and it’s no secret why. With ponderosa pines and...


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Karolis K.'s photo at Malheur
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History of Malheur National Forest

The Malheur National Forest was established by President Theodore Roosevelt on June 13th, 1908. It was created out of the larger Blue Mountains Forest Reserve which was established two years earlier.
The purpose of the Forest Reserve and National Forest system, as expressed in the Organic Act of 1897, was to protect water flow and to ensure a continuous supply of timber.
The Malheur Forest was named for the Malheur River which has its headwaters in the southeastern part of the Forest. Malheur is a French word for misfortune (literally "bad hour"). The River was named by the fur trapper Peter Ogden in the 1820's when a cache of supplies hidden along its banks was taken by Indians.
Cy Bingham was the first Malheur Forest Supervisor, a position he held until he retired in 1920 to become the Grant County Sheriff. Bingham was one of the first six Forest Service employees hired in Oregon. The entire work force at this time consisted of ten employees who had to provide their own horses, saddlery, camp gear, and uniforms. They spent the bulk of the non-winter months camping and patrolling the Forest on horseback.
The first order of business for the new Forest was to set up grazing systems which would alleviate the conflicts between sheep herders and cattlemen which had sometimes erupted into gun play. Both sides knew that the land was being damaged by over grazing but they had very different opinions as to who was causing the damage. Eventually a grazing permit system was established which is still in use today.
Another important role for early Forest employees was wild fire detection and suppression. Dry lightning is common in the Blue Mountains and starts between a few dozen and several hundred fires every year. The need to control fires over such a large area, with so few employees, led to the development of a series of trails, lookouts and guard stations. The first lookouts were high points on the landscape or trees from which the upper branches were removed and a flimsy "crows nest" was built.
The original guard stations were wall tents with a few exceptions like the Muderers Creek Guard Station which is a one room cabin built around 1908. Although they were frequent, most of the fires before 1930 were relatively small and could be easily put out by one or two people. This was because the natural fire regime of frequent, light fires kept the understory clear of brush and debris which could carry the fire into the tree tops. The unintended side effect of successful fire suppression was a buildup of understory fuels which has led to increased fire severity since the 1930's. It is not uncommon today to need several hundred fire fighters and heavy equipment to contain these larger wild fires.
Most of the currently used Forest Service lookouts, campgrounds and buildings were constructed during the 1930's by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).
Timber production was a relatively minor part of the administration of the Malheur National Forest until 1930 when a substantial logging railroad was built from the town of Burns into Bear Valley at the heart of the Forest. The construction of this extensive rail network was required by the Forest Service as part of the first large scale timber sale on the Forest. The Bear Valley Timber Sale, possibly the largest volume of timber ever sold in the continental United States, was sold to the Hines Lumber Company in 1928. Timber harvest from this sale continued until 1968.
Administrating such a massive timber sales program, as well as suppressing larger fires, necessitated hiring a larger work force, at least seasonally. Timber sale planning and administration remains the largest aspect of the administration of the Malheur National Forest although the volume of timber offered for sale has reduced steadily during the 1990's.
Recreation has always been an important activity on the Forest. Traditionally, the bulk of recreational use has centered around camping, hunting and fishing. The first public campground on the Forest was built before 1916 along one of the Forest's premier trout streams. Horseback riding and hiking along the many trails used by Forest Service employees and herders has also been a popular pastime. The bulk of the recreational use of the Forest has traditionally been by people living in the local area but some hunters have come from the Willamette Valley since before 1920.
As highways and automobiles became better and more affordable increasing numbers of non-local visitors have used the Forest.
In 1975 the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness Area was set aside for non-motorized recreation. The size of the wilderness area was almost doubled in 1984 and an additional wilderness area, Monument Rock, was also declared.
Cross country skiing, snow mobiling, and mountain biking have become popular forms of forest recreation in recent years.