Visiting Oregon’s Wilderness Areas (July 2017)

Visits to Oregon's Wilderness Areas

In late 2015, as we were assembling our hiking to do list for 2016, it occurred to us that we had yet to at least visit all of Oregon’s 48 established and open federal wilderness areas. Two of the 48 (Oregon Islands and Three Arch Rocks) are closed to public entry (and would require amphibious operations even if they were open). Of the remaining 46, we had, as of 2015, hiked or visited all but 18. So we planned some trips to visit these. [Update: When we started this project in 2015, there were 47 wilderness areas in Oregon. One more, the Devils Staircase Wilderness was established in 2019 and we did a drive-by visit to it in 2020.]

We’re not philosophers but suffice to say that wilderness exists just to be wild, irrespective of human needs or wants. So we understood going in that the primary “human” purpose for these wilderness areas is to protect a watershed or a threatened and endangered species or a terrestrial habitat or a fish habitat or all of the above and not for our hiking pleasure. This is particularly true of the smaller, less visited areas, many of which have few or no trails and in which cross-country travel opportunities vary from good to heroically (think Lewis & Clark or Alexander Mackenzie) difficult. So we weren’t planning on long day hikes or multi-day backpacks, just a visit and, if possible without undue heroics, a short hike.  We started on the remaining 18 in January 2016 and visited the last one in July 2017.  Below is a list of all of Oregon’s established wilderness areas, with a link (if available) to at least one of our visits to each (we’ve visited some multiple times).

Oregon Wilderness Areas
Federal Wilderness Areas in Oregon
  • 1. Badger Creek Wilderness [post] *
  • 2. Black Canyon Wilderness [post]
  • 3. Boulder Creek Wilderness [post]
  • 4. Bridge Creek Wilderness [post]
  • 5. Bull of the Woods Wilderness [post] *
  • 6. Clackamas Wilderness – From Indian Henry Campground in 2001.
  • 7. Copper Salmon Wilderness [post]
  • 8. Cummins Creek Wilderness [post]
  • 8. Devils Staircase Wilderness [post]
  • 10. Diamond Peak Wilderness [post]
  • 11. Drift Creek Wilderness [post]
  • 12. Eagle Cap Wilderness [post]
  • 13. Gearhart Mountain Wilderness [post]
  • 14. Grassy Knob Wilderness [post]
  • 15. Hells Canyon Wilderness [post]
  • 16. Kalmiopsis Wilderness [post]
  • 17. Lower White River Wilderness [post]
  • 18. Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness [post] *
  • 19. Menagerie Wilderness [post]
  • 20. Middle Santiam Wilderness [post]
  • 21. Mill Creek Wilderness – During a hike to Twin Pillars in July 2005.
  • 22. Monument Rock Wilderness [post]
  • 23. Mount Hood Wilderness [post] *
  • 24. Mount Jefferson Wilderness – While climbing Mount Jefferson in 1997 & 2002.
  • 25. Mount Thielsen Wilderness [post]
  • 26. Mount Washington Wilderness – While climbing Mount Washington in 1996 & 2002.
  • 27. Mountain Lakes Wilderness [post]
  • 28. North Fork John Day Wilderness – During a hike to the Home Mine in 2005.
  • 29. North Fork Umatilla River Wilderness [post]
  • 30. Opal Creek Wilderness [post] *
  • 31. Oregon Badlands Wilderness [post]
  • 32. Oregon Islands Wilderness [closed]
  • 33. Red Buttes Wilderness – Oregon Portion [post]
  • 34. Roaring River Wilderness [post] *
  • 35. Rock Creek Wilderness [post]
  • 36. Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness [post]
  • 37. Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness [post] *
  • 38. Sky Lakes Wilderness [post]
  • 39. Soda Mountain Wilderness [post]
  • 40. Spring Basin Wilderness [post]
  • 41. Steens Mountain Wilderness [post]
  • 42. Strawberry Mountain Wilderness [post]
  • 43. Table Rock Wilderness [post] *
  • 44. Three Arch Rocks Wilderness [closed]
  • 45. Three Sisters Wilderness [post]
  • 46. Waldo Lake Wilderness [post]
  • 47. Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness – Oregon Portion [post]
  • 48. Wild Rogue Wilderness [post]

* = posted on the Oregon Hikers website

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