OVERVIEWThe Oregon Badlands Wilderness Area, located at approximately milepost 17 east of Bend Oregon is a relatively new Wilderness area created in 2009. The wilderness area is about 5 miles square and is a high-desert area (hot, waterless in the summer, cold and waterless in the winter) with lava soil. Most significantly, it is a nice place to stretch legs on the long drive across Eastern Oregon because it is directly adjacent to Hwy 20. There are a series of trails and various loops that can be tailored to your time constraints---everything from 1 to 20 mile hikes. If you really must climb something, there are a half-dozen nameless hills of about 3,500 feet to climb. Ranger maps at the trailhead will give you a good idea of which way to go. Trails throughout the area are wide, well marked and well maintained.
GETTING THEREProceed East from Bend on Highway 20. There are a number of trailheads along the way but the main trailhead is located at approximately milepost 17 on the left side of the road. You'll easily see it from the highway because it's marked with a large Oregon Badlands Trailhead sign. There is an information kiosk there, but that's not the actual trailhead. From the turnoff, drive about 2 miles on the paved road until you reach the a parking lot with another information kiosk.
THE TRAILHEADThe trailhead doesn't have water or bathroom facilities. There is parking for about 20 vehicles and can accommodate horse trailers. Since it is a wilderness, no motor vehicles are allowed on the trails. The Info Kiosk has a poster map of the area and paper maps available in the small, black box.
FAUNA AND FLORAThe area is home to mule deer, elk, rabbits, and antelope. There are also carnivorous predators such as coyotes and bobcats (keep an eye onyour dogs!). You will see a large number of birds including robins, hawks, and ravens.
Flora is typical high-Oregon desert and is mostly sage brush and bunchgrass dotted with Western Juniper. The oldest dated tree in Oregon(a Western Juniper) is supposed to be around 1,600 years old and is located near the wilderness area.