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Searching for Dispersed Camping in Eastern Oregon

Skywatching on a star lit summer evening

By: Billy Newman + Save to a List

The high desert of Eastern Oregon has a lot of unique destinations to see. The terrain in this area is largely open and undeveloped. I have always enjoyed dispersed camping the most. I like areas where it truly feels that I can connect with the wilderness. That's why I appreciate the great expanse of the Oregon Outback. There are very few trees in this area, much of the land is covered in sagebrush and small Juniper trees. It is common to spot groups of antelope roaming through the contours of the landscape as they have done for thousands of years. 

During an early summer camping trip I traveled to Eastern Oregon to camp at a great dispersed campsite on BLM land near Warner Rim by Plush, Oregon. The road trip was very rewarding and it was focused on taking photographs of the Eastern Oregon landscapes. Warner Rim is a geological feature in south eastern Oregon near the Nevada border. Hart Mountain is a nearby geological feature that is more well-known. The land on Warner rim is managed by the BLM .The acreage is accessible by an access road that leads back along a rim rock ridge. The road travels for nearly 15 miles as it cuts across the top of Warner rim to almost a dozen dispersed campsites. The access road that cuts off from the highway is easy to miss, and the road is primitive. This is a drive I would not recommend for a small 2 Wheel Drive car, or a truck towing a large fifth wheel. Limited turnouts and very rocky sections of road are very normal on backcountry access roads like this. 

In this image Marina is silhouetted against our campfire with bright sparks streaking up into the starlit night sky beyond her. We stayed up late this early summer evening and watched the Milky Way and the summer constellations rise above the eastern horizon. Watching the stars on summer camping trips has been a longtime hobby of mine. I appreciate the unique opportunity to get away from urban environments and city lights. Eastern Oregon offers many excellent stargazing locations. With limited population and no urban development, the sky stays very dark and unaffected by light pollution. The flat horizons in Eastern Oregon open up in the night for great opportunities to view 360° of the sky around you. 

Camping and outdoor adventure culture is one of my favorite subjects to photograph. Learn more about this trip by listening to the Live Stream we recorded about photographing stars on Warner Rim or go to BillyNewmanPhoto.com for more information.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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