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The Best in Tent CampingOregon: A Guide for Car Campers Who Hate RVs, Concrete Slabs, and Loud Portable Stereos
By Pyle, Jeanne
Menasha Ridge PressCopyright © 2004 Pyle, Jeanne
All right reserved.
One look at the southeastern expanse of Oregon, roughly 60 miles south of Burns, and you know you're in a place where country-western music is as common as cornbread. Mile after dusty mile, scraggly sagebrush, twisted juniper, and jagged rimrock share a landscape punctuated only by the hulk of mile-high Steens Mountain. This is the highest fault-block mountain in the nation and a snowcapped beacon for all of southeast Oregon.
The region was once the turf of the largest cattle ranch in the United States. Pete French arrived in the Donner und Blitzen River valley in 1872 with 120 head of cattle and built an empire that totaled 45,000 cattle and 200,000 acres. Cattle operations still exist in parts of the Steens Mountain area today. But with all the natural wonders to behold, outdoor recreation and tourism are gradually replacing the traditional sources of income.
Page Springs Campground sits invitingly in the midst of this spectrum. Maintained by the Bureau of Land Management out of its Burns district office, Page Springs is one of three public campgrounds that the Bureau provides for visitors. I prefer it because it is more centrally located to interesting day trips that await in just about any direction you choose to go. It is also the only one of the three campgrounds that is open year-round.
Once you've settled in among the sagebrush and aspens, your first activity of choice may be the 1.8-mile walk that follows the meandering Donner und Blitzen through tall stands of surprisingly lush grasses and other vegetation. This short path is part of a longer route known as the Desert Trail that will-if the efforts of the national Desert Trail Association are successful-provide access to some of the most beautiful arid sections of North America between Canada and Mexico. Oregon's contribution to the trail network is 77 miles.
Excerpted from The Best in Tent Camping by Pyle, Jeanne Copyright © 2004 by Pyle, Jeanne. Excerpted by permission.
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