Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area (Photo courtesy of Travel Oregon)
Elk Viewing in Reedsport
A full-grown elk can weigh up to 1,000 pounds. These majestic creatures happily reside at Reedsport’s Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area, with large herds of elk trotting (or napping) in the grass at any given time. Pull into the parking lot for excellent viewing areas year-round. Bring binoculars to spy the birds, too, as Dean Creek is a popular stop for many coastal migration species. Visit in the morning or late afternoon for the best sighting opportunities. Know that it’s illegal to approach or feed the wildlife.
Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument (Photo by Bob Wick / BLM)
Unparalleled Biodiversity Near Ashland
Three mountain ranges – Cascade, Klamath and Siskiyou – converge to create a natural paradise for wildlife at the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, just east of Ashland. The monument was in fact established to protect this remarkable ecology and its resources for future generations. You can camp, hike, climb, ride a horse, hunt, fish or take a scenic drive through the monument in designated areas while marveling at the native residents, including an amazing display of butterflies, mountain lions, deer, bears, small mammals, eagles and other raptors. Make sure to check for any wildfire-related closures before you go.
Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge (Photo by Jak Wonderly)
Swift Pronghorn at Hart Mountain
Deep gorges and rugged cliffs at Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge create a wondrous home to a mix of wildlife. A huge fault-block ridge skyrockets above the ground, creating spectacular, steep slopes. More than 300 species live in this distinct habitat, and the pronghorn antelope – Oregon’s fastest land mammals – are especially happy here. Visitors are likely to see bighorn sheep and mule deer, too, as well as a variety of birds. As a protected wildlife habitat, restoration, education and appreciation are of utmost importance – so please make sure to Leave No Trace when visiting.
American White Pelicans (Photo courtesy of USFS)
Flocks of Friends in Klamath Falls
The annual Winter Wings Festival in Klamath Falls typically takes place in February, during peak winter-migration season. Birding enthusiasts from across the region come for three days of walking tours, keynote speakers from noted birders and field trips with beautiful views of the Klamath Basin. One of the biggest tenets of the festival is to respect the American Birding Association’s code of Birding Ethics, which states that wildlife photography isn’t about getting the best photos – it’s about considering the well-being of the wildlife itself. It’s also important to respect private property, wherever you’re visiting. Check the website for details and dates for the 2022 festival.
Elkton Butterfly Pavilion (Photo courtesy of Travel Oregon)
Fluttering Butterflies in Elkton
Monarch butterflies are declining rapidly due to habitat loss. The Elkton Butterfly Pavilion is working hard to protect the beautiful and important species as well as native Umpqua River Valley butterfly species. For 13 years, the Elkton Community Education Center has operated the successful butterfly pavilion, inviting visitors to experience these creatures firsthand. The best time to visit and see the butterflies during their life cycle is June through September. The 30-acre site also features a historic fort, flower gardens, a library, art exhibits and a cafe for a fun and educational trip.
Story by Jessica Mehta