U.S. National Forest Campground Guide

Umatilla National Forest

Oregon and Washington

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Forest Information

The Umatilla National Forest is located in northeastern Oregon and southeastern Washington. In Oregon, the Forest consists of of 1,095,066 acres while Washington has 311,197 acres. There are 41 developed campgrounds of which 10 meet the selection criteria.

Straddling the states of Oregon and Washington, the Umatilla National Forest looks like the Appalachian Mountain range in eastern United States. The gentle contours of the Umatilla's Blue Mountains are so like those of the eastern range, a person could almost think they were in Pennsylvania or Virginia. Rolling valleys are surrounded by gentle sloping mountains covered with the dark green of thick conifer forests. Long before Europeans came to the area Native people came here for the bounty the valley's lush grassland and healthy woodlands. Then came European explorers and settlers. Many have passed this way since the Native people harvested the land's bounty and each group has given the Forest a rich history. The Forest's natural features provide visitors with varied recreational opportunities including campgrounds for car, tent, and recreational vehicles (RV), designated areas for OHV (Off-Highway Vehicle) enthusiasts, and outstanding fishing. Umatilla National Forest may be a little forest but it has a lot to offer.

The first Europeans to see the land now called Umatilla National Forest, were the men of Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery. Next came trappers then missionaries, who established "missions" which would become important stops on the Oregon Trail. In 1860 gold was found and the area experienced a huge influx in settlement. Looking at the lush green meadows and rolling landscape, it isn't hard to see why cattle and sheep ranches became an alternative way of life for the many miners who flooded in and is the primary industry in the area today.

The Umatilla National Forest has three designated Wildernesses that reflect the history of the area. Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness is the most rugged and gives visitors an opportunity live the way of life experienced by those earlier trappers. The North Fork Umatilla Wilderness's gentle topography and lush grassland recalls what attracted those early cattle and sheep ranchers. The North Fork John Day Wilderness, the focus of the area's gold rush, offers visitors the opportunity to discover artifacts and ruins of those bye-gone days.

OHV enthusiasts are finding Umatilla National Forest. Bull Prairie campground is a sweet little campground offering varying camping experiences, good fishing, a tranquil environment and all within an easy drive of the Morrow County OHV Park and its extensive trail systems. Near the tiny community of Ukiah is another outstanding complex of OHV trails. Known as the Wimon/Frazier OHV Complex, more than 100 miles of trails link the semi-dispersed Wimon campground with the more developed Frazier campground. Long parking aprons for truck and a trailer of quads or dirt bikes and lots of shade, bring many to Frazier campground. The nearby Lehman Hot Springs helps to soak the bumps and bruises away.

Tucannon Guard Station, near Tucannon campground, reflects the history of the Tucannon Valley. Stop by and take a look at how folks lived 75 to 100 years ago. Running beside the campground is the Tucannon River. With seven small lakes beside the river, anglers will enjoy the challenge of hooking a big one. For military history buffs, time at Target Meadows campground will prove interesting. Used for summer artillery practice, visitors exploring this campground will find things illustrating life in the army when horses were the primary mode of transportation.

Perhaps the most scenic and tranquil campground in the Umatilla National Forest is Olive Lake. A long drive from much of anything, this campground hugs the shoreline of a beautiful glacier-carved lake in the Greenhorn Mountains. One section of the campground has a series of secluded tent sites while in the other section sites are closer together giving it a more crowded, communal feeling. Both sections provide easy access to the lake, which appears perfect for lazy days of exploring in a canoe.

One of the best campgrounds for exploring a Umatilla National Forest wilderness is the North Fork John Day campground. It is on the eastern side of the North Fork John Day Wilderness and is one of the few campgrounds in the area designed for equestrian and non-equestrian campers. The campground is also a trailhead for North Fork John Day Wilderness network of trails. It is well situated for visiting places such as: the ghost-town of Granite, OR, the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest's Anthony Lakes Recreation Area, Sumpter Valley Railroad, and the Sumpter Valley Dredge State Heritage Area.

The Umatilla National Forest is not a very large forest but what it lacks in size it makes up for in the variety and number of recreational opportunities. Few forests offer better fishing, more varied hiking trails, more OHV trails, nicer campgrounds, and more photogenic scenery. And it all awaits you.

SUPERVISOR ADDRESS 2517 S.W. Hailey Ave. Pendleton, Oregon 97801 541-278-3716 RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES Heppner POB 7 Heppner, Oregon 97836 541-676-9187 North Fork John Day POB 158 Ukiah, Oregon 97880 541-427-3231 Pomeroy 71 West Main Pomeroy, Oregon 99347 509-843-1891 Walla Walla 1415 West Rose St. Walla Walla, Washington 99362 509-522-6290

Fred and Suzi Dow