Road Trip Ahead: Oregon Outback
Road Trip to the Oregon Outback: Hot Springs, Hiking, Camping, and Antelope!
Remote open spaces, camping under true Dark Skies, hiking and biking trails galore, wildlife refuges, and hot springs! Plan your road trip to the Oregon Outback this summer. If you haven’t heard of the Oregon Outback, it’s basically the West’s best open space, with plenty of room to roam. Here are some ideas for your summer road trip to the Oregon Outback’s Lake County region.
Hot Springs & the Milky Way!
You’re gonna need a few nights to adequately soak your bones in the Oregon Outback’s fantastic trio of hot springs around Lake County.
1) Book a cabin, campsite, or RV spot at the Summer Lake Hot Springs Resort (hot tip for these hot springs: the website currently says the resort is not taking reservations, but they are now open, and shhh ... they’ve quietly reopened the hot springs for anyone staying on the land here—just not yet for drive-up, day use).
2) Nestled in the wildlife haven of Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge are hot springs where you can soak under the Dark Sky, then camp beneath the stars. Let it be known, this is a clothing-optional hot spring, so the scenery may include full moons that don’t match up with the Farmers’ Almanac.
3) Home to the continuously spouting 60-foot geyser, Old Perpetual, Hunter Springs Resort makes a good stay for lodging and lounging—in particular, an evening swim in the 104º F swimming pool.
Dark Sky Camping
True Dark Sky is an official designation that only select regions qualify for, and the Oregon Outback qualifies, and then some! It’s the best for camping and celestial solitude. With campgrounds open, take your pick of places to stargaze and moonbathe. Any BLM or USFS campground here is going to be excellent. Find beautiful wilderness camping at Hart Mountain Antelope Refuge.
Bonus: “Best Burgers & Biggest Sandwiches!” The Hart Mountain Store & Cafe is the ideal place to pick up some provisions or a take-out meal. Cheeseburger, fries, beer, done!
Bikepack the Icon
There’s a lot of land to bike in the Oregon Outback, so where does an ambitious mountain biker begin? How about with the crowning glory, the Oregon Timber Trail. This iconic and designated mountain bike route, with more than 60 percent singletrack, runs south to north from California to the Columbia River Gorge, across four regional tiers of varied terrain, including the Oregon Outback. Bike through small towns, and along plenty of alpine sections. It takes about 30 days to do the entire route, but you can also bike sections of it over a weekend. This is North America’s premier long-distance mountain bike route.
The Great (Oregon Outback) Migration
Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge is a gigantic landscape famous for wildlife, including its namesake migratory pronghorn antelope. A visit here is a marvelous opportunity to witness pronghorn in their natural habitat. California bighorn sheep are also found here as are other animals who depend on the high desert terrain. Bonus: Dark Sky Camping & Hot Springs: Soak in the Hart Mountain Hot Springs under the Dark Sky, then camp under the stars at the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge.
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