U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
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National Wildlife Refuge

3691 Sodhouse Lane
Princeton, OR   97721 - 9502
E-mail: Chad_Karges@fws.gov
Phone Number: 541-493-2612
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
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  Wildlife Observation and Photography
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Take a short walk from the lower parking area or drive to the Buena Vista Overlook, just off Highway 205. From there you can see Steens Mountain, whose snowmelt provides much of the water for the Blitzen Valley. For a closer look, drive by the Buena Vista Ponds--a source of year-round water for wildlife. During spring and fall, these ponds are a staging area for migrating waterfowl. Nesting species include Canada geese, cinnamon teal, gadwall, mallard, northern shoveler, red-winged blackbird, ruddy duck, and yellow-headed blackbird. Summer residents include the black-crowned night heron, cliff swallow, great blue heron, great egret, mink, muskrat, rock wren, and sagebrush lizard.

Krumbo Reservoir was created in 1949 to improve refuge habitats and angling in Harney County. A favorite spot for families, Krumbo is equipped with a boat ramp, dock, and fishing platform. The reservoir gate opens on the fourth Saturday of April and closes on November 1. Common species in the area include the American coot, bufflehead, Canada geese, mule deer, muskrat, red-winged blackbird, and western grebe.

Tall cottonwood trees and willows dominate the riparian habitat at Benson Pond. Together with the water, they create a cool oasis in the desert. The variety of vegetation attracts many different species of wildlife. In addition to viewing waterfowl on the pond, scan the cottonwood trees for various songbirds, great horned owls, and porcupine. Other common species in the area include the cinnamon teal, coyote, deer mice, gadwell, garter snake, great egret, great horned owl, long-eared owl, mallard, mule deer, Northern oriole, Northern shoveler, pied-billed grebe, porcupine, and trumpeter swan.

Located 3 miles south of Benson Pond, Knox Ponds provide essential habitat for nesting birds. Occasionally, one pond is left dry and used to grow grain for migrating sandhill cranes. In the evenings, cranes often roost in the shallow areas of the pond. Common species in the area include Canada geese, eared grebe, gadwall, northern grebe, redhead, sandhill crane, trumpeter swan, tundra swan, western grebe, and white-faced ibis.

The Long Barn, beef wheel, and willow corrals, built in the 1880s, are all that remain of P Ranch. Walk through the Long Barn to see French's innovative construction techniques. This area is noted for its combination of meadow and riparian habitats. A walk along the dike provides excellent opportunities to see species that use the willow riparian habitat. Here you can also see the CCC-built lookout tower. Although the tower itself is not open to the public, it is a popular place for roosting turkey vultures in the summer. Other common species in the area are the bald eagle, barn swallow, black-headed grosbeak, bobolink, mule deer, porcupine, yellow-breasted chat, and yellow-headed blackbird.

While much of the Double-O Unit is closed to vehicle traffic, a spring drive along the 42-mile Blitzen Valley Auto Tour Route may provide glimpses of snow geese, Canada geese, sandhill cranes, and a variety of shorebirds.

Motorized vehicles are permitted only on roads open to the public: Center Patrol Road, Field Station Road, Buena Vista Lane, Krumbo Lane, Five Mile Lane, and P Lane. All vehicles must be operated by licensed drivers and must be street legal. All other roads are closed to the public. ATV use is prohibited on the refuge.

Bicycles and horseback riding are permitted on roads that are open to motorized vehicles.

Year round hiking is permitted only on roads open to motorized vehicles and the following trails. Two short paths--one at Buena Vista and one at Headquarters--lead to overlooks. Additional trails are the Barnes Springs Foot Path near Frenchglen, and the public fishing loop near P Ranch. Hiking is also permitted along the banks of Krumbo Reservoir. No other refuge lands are open to hiking. Be prepared as you may encounter wet areas, thorny vegetation, and rough ground. Please stay on designated trails.

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