By Dan Shryock
We knew Lonesome Duck Ranch as an ideal place for fly fishing and bird watching but within minutes after arriving in our cottage, we discovered a bonus. Only a few feet from our front door was the tranquil Williamson River. A small bench provided the perfect place to stop, sit and watch the water roll by.
Lonesome Duck was our base of operations during a visit to Klamath County, Oregon. The location was ideal. We were 25 miles north of Klamath Falls and 39 scenic miles from the crater’s rim inside Crater Lake National Park. Directly to the west was the Upper Klamath Lake and the Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge.
Whether we wanted to hike, fish, cycle, go canoeing or simply observe bald eagles, this was the place to be.
Lonesome Duck Ranch is located just off Highway 97 south of the small town of Chiloquin and the Kla-Mo-Ya Casino. It’s situated on 100 acres along the Williamson River. For those who love fly fishing, you can cast from shore or by boat. Serious fishermen throughout the world come for the native trophy trout, taking advantage of more than two miles of private river access. “We have some of the largest wild trout in the United States, owner Steve Hilbert explains.
Lonesome Duck’s informative website is found at www.lonesomeduck.com.
Look there for details about each guest house, rates, and more.
Click here and find a Google map.
One more click from your mobile device and you’ll have driving instructions.
We took a long walk with Steve, staff naturalist Marshal Moser and black lab Clara. (All animals at Lonesome Duck, save one, are named after characters in the novel “Lonesome Dove.”) Before the day was done we spotted a kingfisher, numerous varieties of blackbirds, a few Steller’s jays and a couple of bald eagles standing guard near a nest. Marshal also pointed out a Golden eagle circling for an early dinner above a ridge line to the east.
Lonesome Duck features two fully equipped guest houses – Arrowhead Cottage and Rivers Edge – that are meticulously maintained. Both Steve and Debbie Hilbert and Marshal and Suzie Moser live on site to make sure your stay is as comfortable as possible.
“Our typical stay is from two to five nights,” Steve says. “More than half of our guests like to fish but Crater Lake is big, too. You can stay here and still go up to the lake and do your hike and have dinner.”
Fishing guides are available – Lonesome Duck works with local guides to make sure you have the best experience possible. Beginners are welcome, too.
Take a walk on the wildlife side – Marshal Moser is a certified wildlife biologist and well-versed on the area’s plants, animals, geology and natural history. Have Marshal take you for a walk around the ranch. He’ll share what he knows in a relaxed manner you’ll enjoy.
What’s with the name? Steve readily offers that his favorite novel and movie is Larry McMurtry’s “Lonesome Dove.” And, since both he and Debbie are graduates of the University of Oregon, it seemed only natural to work the school mascot “duck” into the name. There are many ducks on the property, too, but they’re not very lonesome.
Meet the menagerie – Say hello to Gussie, Sundance, Roscoe, Jasper and ol’ July Johnson. They are the horses and llamas that call the ranch home.
Things to Do in the Area – Here are several resources to help make your planning easier.
- Crater Lake National Park
- Things to do at Crater Lake
- Crater Lake boat tours
- Winter at Crater Lake
- Crater Lake’s Backyard
- Discover Klamath
Dan Shryock is an Oregon-based journalist and travel writer. When he's not visiting Southern Oregon or sampling local wines, he can be found cycling throughout the state.