The 270,600-acre Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge was established in 1936 for purposes of conserving remnant herds of Pronghorn Antelope. The fastest land animal in North America, pronghorn is able to develop speeds over 60 miles per hour (96 km/h). The interesting fact: the African cheetah, the fastest mammals in the world, can achieve speeds of up to 61 miles per hour (98 km/h), that is just slightly more than pronghorn.
Other 69 protected species of mammals and 246 species of birds include California bighorn sheep, mule deer, coyotes, sage-grouse, and others.
The breathtakingly scenic Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge offers a wide range of activities including wildlife observation, hiking, camping, rock hounding and soaking in the geothermal springs.
Soaking in Hart Mountain Hot Springs
Accessible all year round, Hart Mountain Hot Springs are are a collection of hot mineral springs offering excellent soaking opportunities at an elevation of 6,000 feet. The main hot spring is surrounded by rustic stone walls protecting those within from the chills of the cold winds. Another smaller undeveloped pool is located 100 yards away.
The open terrain of the refuge provides a great opportunity for hiking but trails are not maintained. However, two-track and dirt roads can be used instead of established trails.
The hikes to DeGarmo Canyon, Barnhardi Cabin, and Warner Pick begin from the south end of the Hot Springs Campground.
Hike to one of the most significant petroglyph's sites in Oregon - Petroglyph Lake. There are about 65 petroglyph panels along the western rim of the lake. Rock arts represent animals, people, and abstract figures including circles, lines, and waves.
The Petroglyph Lake Trailhead is located on Hart Mountain Road, 1 mile northeast of the Refuge Visitor Center. From the trailhead at sigh "Petroglyph Lake", hike 1.6 miles to the lake.
Along the western edges of the mountains, rocks collectors can find beautiful agates, jaspers, obsidian, and fire opals. Check current rockhounding regulations. Removing artifacts, arrowheads, petroglyphs, and plants is prohibited.
One of the popular rockhounding place is dry Flook Lake, located at the eastern boundary of the Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge.
The Refuge provides opportunities for trout fishing at Rock Creek, Guano Creek, and at Warner Pond which is wheelchair accessible, open for non-motorized boats and has a floating dock.
Wildlife Viewing & Photography
The Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge is primarily an animal refuge. Wildlife observation including pronghorn antelope, California bighorn sheep, sage-grouse, and other animals is the most popular activity for refuge visitors.
A special use permit is required for all people to photograph near sage-grouse leks between the 1st March and 1st June. A permit is required for any commercial photography and video productions. Check the website to fill out an application.
The Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge is the perfect location for camping. Allowed year-round up to 14 days in designated campgrounds.
Camp Hart Mountain - 8 campsites, accommodate trailers, vault toilets, picnic tables, fire rings, generators, wheelchair accessible.
Hot Springs - 25 campsites, accommodate trailers 24 ft maximum, vault toilets, fire rings, generators, wheelchair accessible.
Post Meadows - 4 campsites, accommodate trailers, vault toilets. Fishing, horseback riding.
Guano Creek (vehicles is ok from the 1st August to the 1st December) - 10 campsites, vault toilets, wheelchair accessible. Fishing.
Backcountry Camping. It is required to obtain a self-issued permit at the Refuge Headquarters or online.
Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge | General Description
Managed: US Fish & Wildlife Service
Acreage: 278, 600 acres
Services: Visitor center, pit toilets at campgrounds
Activities: Camping, hiking, soaking, rockhounding, fishing, and wildlife observing
Accommodations: Campground sites
Distance from the parking: Short
Road access: Any vehicle
Day-use fees: None
Lowest elevation: 4,470 ft (1,362 m) at Base of Poker Jim Ridge
Highest elevation: 8,017 ft (2,244 m) at Warner Peak
Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge is located:
67 miles northeast of Lakeview
112 miles southwest of Burns
308 miles southeast of Eugene
386 miles northeast of Portland.
Directions to Refuge Headquarters
- Follow OR-78 East to OR-205
- Turn right onto OR 205 S and drive for about 67 miles to Rock Creek Road
- Turn right onto Rock Creek Road (gravel road) that becomes Frenchglen Road
- Continue onto Frenchglen Road (totally 41 miles from OR-205) to Refuge Headquarters.
- From the north end of Plush, turn on Lake County Road 3-12 or Hart Mountain Road toward Hart Lake and Mountains
- Continue 23 miles to Refuge Headquarters (the road is mostly gravel).
The Hart Mountain, Frenchglen, Blue Sky, and Hot Springs Roads are open and maintained year-round. Any vehicles can be used. Other National Refuge's roads are not maintained. Four-wheel drive vehicles with high clearance are recommended. Any road can become hazardous due to storms, drifting snow, muddy conditions, or landslides. Check current road conditions on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service website.