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. The northern 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.
01/03/2014: 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. Please be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions. Visitors should let someone know their plans, including route of travel and an estimated time of return.
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 Trail #365 to Bullrun Rock's 150-foot cliffs. To reach the trailhead from Prairie City, turn south from Highway 26 on Main Street, follow a paved road southeast 9 miles, turn left onto Road 13 for 12 miles, then take Road 1370 to the left.
The Bullrun Creek Trail starts out with 2 easy miles of hiking in a steep-sided canyon, but then climbs 2000 feet in 3.5 miles up a ridge to Bullrun Rock. Drive to the trailhead from Highway 26 by heading west from downtown Unity on a paved road for 1 mile, then turning left onto gravel road for 4 miles. Jog to the right on Road 1695, then follow Road 210 to the trail.
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.
Areas for Viewing Wildlife at Monument Rock Wilderness
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.
Areas for Viewing Scenery at Monument Rock Wilderness