National Antelope Refuge
|Hwy 40, 65 miles northeast of
Phone Number: 541-947-2731
|Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge
Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge is located on a massive fault block ridge that ascends abruptly nearly three-quarters of a mile above the Warner Valley floor in a series of rugged cliffs, steep slopes, and knife-like ridges. Visitors experience spectacular views of the beautiful Warner Valley Wetlands while ascending the west side entrance road to headquarters.The west face of the mountain is cut by several deep gorges. Hart, Potter, and DeGarmo canyons, the most rugged, extend from the valley floor to the top of the main ridge. The east side of the mountain is less precipitous, descending in a series of rolling hills and low ridges to the sagebrush-grasslands typical of southeastern Oregon and the Great Basin.
The rugged diversity of the terrain creates a rich mix of habitat types, home to more than 300 species of wildlife. Featured species include pronghorn antelope, California bighorn sheep, mule deer, sage grouse, and redband trout. The 278,000-acre refuge is one of the most expansive wildlife habitats in the arid West free of domestic livestock.
Since its creation in 1936 as a range for remnant herds of pronghorn antelope, management of the refuge has broadened to include conservation of all wildlife species characteristic of this high desert habitat and restoration of native ecosystems for the public's enjoyment, education, and appreciation.
Getting There . . .
Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge is located 65 miles northeast of Lakeview, Oregon, off Highway 140.
From Lakeview, where the Sheldon-Hart Mountain Complex office is located in the Post Office Building, take U.S. Highway 395 North about 5 miles. Turn right on Oregon State Highway 140 and go east 15 miles, then turn left at the sign to the refuge. Go 19 miles to Plush and continue through Plush, then turn right at the sign to the refuge. Follow the Hart Mountain Road to the refuge headquarters.
From Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, go south on Oregon State Highway 205 through Frenchglen and continue another 10 miles, then turn west (right) at the sign to the refuge. Travel 36 miles to the refuge headquarters.
Most refuge roads are not maintained for passenger vehicles. High clearance and four-wheel drive are needed to travel off the Frenchglen, Blue Sky, or Hotsprings roads. Small amounts of precipitation can make very muddy roads. During the winter and spring, most roads are impassable due to snow or wet conditions. Please avoid driving on muddy roads for your own safety and the protection of fragile resources. Emergency services and roadside assistance are not readily available. The refuge staff is not able to provide or sell gas, towing, or auto repair service. Please feel free to call our office for information on the condition of the Frenchglen road.
Conditions at the camping areas on Hart Mountain are primitive. Areas have pit toilets, two of which are handicap accessible. None of the campgrounds have any RV hook-ups, drinking water, firewood, or fire rings. Drinking water is available at refuge headquarters. Camping is on a first-come, first-served basis. There are no reservations and no camping fees.
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For over a century, livestock grazing and fire suppression greatly influenced the native plants and wildlife on the refuge. A management plan completed in 1994 excludes livestock grazing from the refuge for 15 years (until 2009) and calls for the reintroduction of fire as a primary process to restore native plant communities and wildlife habitat. Prescribed fire is now used to restore native plant communities.
We closely monitor the effects of management actions such as prescribed fire on wildlife and their habitat to ensure management objectives are met. Hundreds of miles of interior fence were constructed to manage livestock and utilize vegetation. With livestock removed, the interior fence is no longer needed and reduces the natural movement of wildlife.
Removing this fence is a primary objective of the refuge. Riparian areas and upland watersheds are monitored annually to track the recovery of these critical habitats. If left unchecked, the Hart Mountain feral horse herd, currently about 200 animals, doubles about every 3-4 years. Feral horses are descended from domestic stock turned loose around the turn of the twentieth century.
Their grazing can devastate native vegetation and severely damage riparian habitat. They directly compete for forage and water with native wildlife. The 1990 Hart Mountain Comprehensive Management Plan calls for total removal of these horses. Over 300 species of birds and mammals are found on the refuge. Pronghorn, sage grouse, mule deer and California bighorn sheep are featured species.
The Hart Mountain California bighorn sheep herd provides the genesis for the majority of sheep reintroductions in Oregon. Its health is essential for the continued success of reintroducing this species throughout the northwest. Although the refuge has been historically known for its abundant big game, the extensive riparian habitat and unique old growth juniper woodland has also made it a mecca for serious birders.
Friends of Hart Mountain NAR is a nonprofit, independent, volunteer-managed group whose mission is to support the goals and purposes for which the refuge was established and enhance the refuge's value to local communities.Learn More>>