Beatys Butte is definitely in the middle of nowhere (I am NOT kidding). You almost can't get there from anywhere is it so far away from civilization you might as well be on the moon. Yes, it is in Oregon, not far from the Nevada border but you won't find many people in this area, an area that is high desert in south central Oregon, an area I call the "Oregon Outback". The main vegetation is sagebrush and this type of area is sometimes referred to as sagebrush flats.
Nope, forget the forests and the blue lakes, this is another kind of Oregon, one filled with sagebrush and cattle but still a delight if you venture there. There isn't one pine tree on this mountain but there are a few minor league mahogany trees (not the phillipine type of mahogany). A nearby peak is known as Mahogany Butte because it has about a dozen of these mountain mahogany trees on the summit.
So why climb it if it is so isolated and barren? Because it is there folks. Pure and simple. Also if you are into driving dirt roads and risking your vehicle up a muddy 4WD track, this is the Butte-y for you. OK, enough of my cuteness, you climb this one because it is #72 on the Oregon 2000K prominence peak list and #95 on the Mazama 100 Highest Peak list, making Beatys Butte a two-fer.
Now for some serious talk. This is a fascinating part of Oregon, unlike anything else you may have experienced. I definitely enjoyed the time spentand of course, have no desire whatsoever in going back. It is a one time deal.
I had seen a great view of Beatys Butte the day before from the summit of Warner Peak., 30 miles or more to the west of Beatys Butte.
Getting ThereFrom I-5, near Ashland, take Oregon highway 66 59 miles to Klamath Falls. From Klamath Falls, take Oregon highway 140 97 miles to Lakeview. Go north 5 miles on US 395 and hook up with highway 140. Lakeview is the last town with any facilities until Winnemucca, but the small wide spot in the road known as Adel has gas and a convenience store which closes at 6 p.m. 26 miles from Adel, watch for the Beatys Butte Road that goes to the left as highway 140 begins to climb to the south up what is called Donelly Slide. A hang glider launch spot is located at the top of the highway and is worth a visit just to get a feel for what kind of a ride these hang gliders can get from there.
The road you turn north on is a dirt road, relatively in good shape for the next 21 or so miles. Watch out for cattle on this road as this is open range country. Open range means that if you hit the cow, you've bought it. Cows have the right of way and you don't. Don't take this road if it is raining (fairly rare) as it would become very muddy and possibly impassable.
Drive to this junction, not signed and the best way to nail it is to use GPS
technology. (note: the original topozone references here have been changed by topozone, I'll try and update with gps waypoints asap) Turn east at the West Gulch Road , a driveable 4WD type of road.
Drive this as far as you are comfortable and then find a spot to park and begin your cross country hike. We made it to this spot before we were totally stopped by a mud pit we couldn't get past. I'd really suggest parking near HERE as it doesn't add much more to the hike (climb is not the case as this is a cross country hike)
UPDATE on Road conditions by SP member CJWhat:
"The road off 140 is not currently in decent shape. I would grade it as 'passable'. I was tickled in the short sections on which I could drive 30 mph. The sign at 140 says 'Spaulding Reservoir 19 mi' and no signs say 'Beatys Butte Road', so perhaps adding this would increase confidence that the correct road is being taken (although your mileage number is right on). Also I suggest a better approach than your West Gulch Road is to go 23 miles from 140 and turn E on Mahogany Mountain Road; then proceed 4.5 miles to the south base of Beatys Butte. This road is an excellent 4WD road ... I averaged 15 mph and the couple of crossings I had to slow down for were easy."
Red TapeThis is on BLM land and there are no fees (at this time of course)
When To ClimbMost likely you could climb this peak year around depending on what condition the road is in. This is what you'll find tucked amidst the rocks in the summit cairn
CampingWe camped alongside the road. We also observed others camping off of the road and there might be a primitive campground at nearby Guano Lake. Yes, that is the name. Attractive sounding isn't it? There are no campgrounds anywhere in this area but you could stay in Lakeview and drive to Beatys Butte from there.
Mountain ConditionsThe closest weather report information is Adel, thanks to Yahoo.
Click HERE for this weather report.
More information can be found at the Lakeview BLM office:
Lakeview District Office
HC 10 Box 337, 1301 South G St., Lakeview, OR 97630
Nearby prominence peaksMy favorite pursuit besides county highpointing, is chasing peaks that have prominence, which is a measure of a mountain peak's stature relative to its surrounding terrain. Peaklist.org puts it this way,
"Prominence is the elevation of a summit relative to the highest point to which one must descend before reascending to a higher summit."
So, Beatys Butte has 2000 of prominence over everything in its area except for Warner Peak to the west and Pueblo mtn to the east. Make sense? If not, it will in time.
Greg Slayden's great site, Peakbagger.com has this list of peaks that have prominence in Oregon of over 2000 feet. Another great site for prominence is Peaklist.org. Check out this great map of Oregon's prominence peaks. Maps obound on this site.
Nearby Oregon Prominence Peaks
These represent the prominence peaks in southeastern Oregon.
Now Nevada, just to the south, has a ton more. Check out the Nevada map at peaklist.org
Miscellaneous Info & HanglidingWatch out for ticks in the springtime and snakes in the summer.
Avoid this peak during thundercell activity.
Near the turnoff to Beatty's Butte road (but up the hill) is Doherty Slide where hangliding is the hallowed sport. Read more HERE.
If you have information about this mountain that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.
Butte?Oregon has a lot of mountains called Buttes in the state and this is another that is named a "butte". I was curious about the origin and exact meaning of the word "Butte" so I went to google and googled it. Here's what Wikipedia had to say:
A butte (IPA: [bju:t]) is an isolated hill with steep sides and a small flat top, smaller than mesas and plateaus. Buttes are prevalent in the western United States and on the Hawaiian Islands, especially around Honolulu. The word "butte" comes from a French word meaning "small hill".
"Buttes are formed by erosion when a cap of hard rock, usually of volcanic origin, covers a layer of softer rock that is easily worn away. This hard rock avoids erosion while the rock around it wears down. One example of a noted butte is Chimney Rock."
The encyclopedia Brittanica had this similar explanation:
"(French: “hillock” or “rising ground”) Flat-topped hill surrounded by a steep cliff, from the bottom of which a slope descends to the plain. The term is sometimes used for an elevation higher than a hill but not high enough to be a mountain. Buttes topped by horizontal platforms of hard rock are characteristic of the arid plateau region of the western U.S. A butte is similar to a mesa but generally smaller; both are created by erosional processes."
End of definition (is everyone clear on the meaning of Butte now?