Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
We accidentally made a road trip in Oregon’s high desert. We started in Burns after filling the car with gas. We wanted to visit the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, so we took Oregon Route 78, which looked promising on the paper map. However, with less than six people living per square mile, this frontier territory had many dirt roads we needed to avoid.
We decided to enjoy the detour to the refuge instead of turning around, and in hindsight, we were glad we did. We were stopped by cowboys driving a large cattle herd on the highway. This was such a fantastic first-time experience and an incredible sight. We followed parts of several scenic byways, the Diamond Loop Scenic Tour Route, the High Desert Discovery, and the National Back Country Highway. We got stunning views of lakes, mountains, and the high desert.
We ultimately reached our destination, the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge is a crucial stopover point of the Pacific Flyway for migrating birds from Alaska to Patagonia. Since migration begins in late April and peaks in mid-May, we only saw a few non-migrating birds enjoying themselves in the pond while walking around the visitor center. We also followed the short Overlook Trail to get a view of Lake Malheur. We finished our visit by observing a cute Common Nighthawk sleeping on a branch to rest for the hunt in the evening.