Monument Rock Wilderness


Photo of Monument Rock Wilderness

At the southernmost edge of the Blue Mountains, this area's alpine, once-glaciated ridges offer views across much of eastern Oregon. The lichen-covered 8-foot cylindrical stone monument atop Monument Rock may have been erected by pioneer sheepherders. This is a new Wilderness in the old landscape of the eastern Strawberry Mountains. Established in 1984 by the Oregon Wilderness Act, the 19,620-acre Wilderness spills from the Malheur National Forest onto the adjacent Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. Thenorthern end of the area lies across a watershed divide that separates drainages of the South Fork Burnt River, as well as two National Forests. The area ranges from about 5,200 feet in the lower regions to the 7,815-foot top of Table Rock.

In the lower lands you will find ponderosa pine, depending on where you go. You may also find lodgepole pine, Douglas-fir, white fir, aspen, and juniper. If you look down, you will probably see elk sedge, pinegrass, wheatgrass, huckleberry, bluegrass, and many wildflowers. As you hike higher, you will find subalpine fir, just below the treeless mountain crests.

The area's diverse wildlife habitat is used by bear, deer, elk, badgers, and the rare wolverine. There are 70 species of birds including the creek-loving water ouzel (American dipper) and the pileated woodpecker. The visiting season here generally runs between June and November. The John Day Valley funnels winter storms and summer thundershowers to the mountain ridges here. As a result the area receives 40 inches of annual precipitation, twice as much as the surrounding, arid lowlands. Summer brings hot days and chilly nights. Hunting is the most popular activity, with hiking and backpacking increasing in popularity.

Table Rock Lookout draws many visitors and is one of the entry points to the Wilderness. The fire lookout tower on Table Mountain is a good place to begain a visit to the Monument Rock area. After taking in the view, backtrack a half mile down the lookout road and take a level 2-mile stroll along Table Rock Trail #365 to Bullrun Rock's 150-foot cliffs. 

The area ranges from about 5,200 feet in the lower regions to the 7,815-foot top of Table Rock.

Key access points: Open recreation activities below for a list of trails.


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At a Glance

Current Conditions: 04/18/2014: Monument Rock Wilderness area becomes unreachable by passenger vehicle during the winter months due to snow, ice and muddy roads. Trails in the area have not been cleared for the season.
Restrictions: Wilderness Regulations apply
Closest Towns: John Day, OR
Water: Boil for 5 minutes, or treat, water before drinking
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center: Prairie City Ranger District



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