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.
2517 S.W. Hailey Ave.
Pendleton, Oregon 97801
RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES
Heppner, Oregon 97836
North Fork John Day
Ukiah, Oregon 97880
71 West Main
Pomeroy, Oregon 99347
1415 West Rose St.
Walla Walla, Washington 99362