This week we’ll take a field trip to the far east end of Bend, to the Oregon Badlands Wilderness. The Badlands is well known among locals as the place to go to find quiet trails, miles and miles of uninterrupted desert landscape and accessible hiking almost every day of the year. While the high Cascades are still buried under several feet of snow, the sunny and dry Badlands Wilderness is open for hiking, horseback riding and off-trail exploring.
Address: Highway 20, milepost 16
Pros: Solitude, options for short and long hikes and off-trail travel.
Cons: A bit of a drive outside of Bend
Key features: The most well-known feature in the Oregon Badlands is Flatiron Rock, located 2.5 miles from the Flatiron Rock Trailhead. But just a little bit of exploring will uncover so much more: rolling sagebrush desert, dry river canyons, petroglyphs, countless rock outcrops and even a lovely pond. With seven trailheads scattered along the outskirts of this 29,000 acre parcel of land, the Badlands offers many opportunities to the curious visitor. Most people will do the same loop hike every time they visit; challenge yourself to explore every corner of this special place. You may be surprised at what you find!
What you’ll see and hear: Spring wildflowers, chirping robins, lizards, people walking their dogs.
Best use of the park: Driving to a quiet trailhead and exploring cross-country.
Parking: Parking lots at each of the seven trailheads; Flatiron Trailhead is the most heavily used.
Bike parking: None
Fun fact: The Oregon Badlands Wilderness was established in 2009 and is managed by the BLM Prineville District.