North Fork John Day Wilderness: Wallowa-Whitman

Baldy Lake with Mt. Ireland in background.

The North Fork John Day Wilderness is comprised of four separate units - three on the Umatilla National Forest, and one on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. Located in the Elkhorn and Greenhorn Mountains, it totals 121,560 acres with 106,125 on the North Fork John Day District of the Umatilla National Forest and 14,435 on the Whitman District of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. During its establishment by Congress in 1984 as part of the Oregon Wilderness Act, the area was recognized for two main priorities. These were to increase protection of the headwaters tributaries of the North Fork John Day River, and protection of the remaining high quality anadromous fisheries habitat in the river basin.

The Baldy Unit is a smaller unit situated west of Baker City, Oregon and is managed by the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. It has several scenic subalpine lake basins characteristic of the area, and the headwaters of the North Fork John Day River, Bull Creek, Baldy Creek, and Crawfish Creek. From rolling benchlands to the granite outcrops of the Greenhorn Mountains, the rugged Baldy Unit provides diverse landscapes. Much of the wilderness is composed of gentle benchlands and tablelands; the remaining of steep ridges and alpine lake basins. A continuous vegetative canopy covers most of the land, including dense virgin stands of conifer species like Douglas-fir, white fir, western larch and lodgepole pine.


At a Glance

Rentals & Guides: Commercial Outfitter & Guides
Restrictions: Wilderness Regulations apply , and Weed-Free Feed requirements
Closest Towns: Ukiah, OR (15 miles); Baker City, OR (25 miles)
Information Center:

General Information

General Notes:

Recreational Opportunities

The North Fork John Day Wilderness provides opportunities for visitors to hike, backpack, camp, ride horses, hunt, view scenery, study natural processes, and view wildlife. The heaviest use occurs in the summer and fall seasons, and is primarily associated with big-game hunting, drawing many visitors from outside the area.

There are a few lakes and trails to explore within this Wilderness. Camping and fishing are particularly popular at Crawfish Lake and Baldy Lake. Visitors should expect to see several other parties at these lakes during the summer weekends, particularly holiday weekends.


Learn more about North Fork John Day Wilderness resources and history.


This wilderness is also unique since it also includes a designated wild and scenic river. Beginning at the headwaters under the Elkhorn Crest Trail, over 9 miles of the Wild and Scenic North Fork John Day River flow through the area. This wild river accounts for many miles of steelhead and trout habitat. The area also supports dominant wildlife species like Rocky Mountain elk, mule deer, Rocky Mountain goats and some black bear. Many small game and nongame species also inhabit the area, as do mountain goats.

Also interesting is the evidence of past human activities found in this area, specifically mining and prospecting. It is not unusual to find traces of the gold mining era such as historic ditches, cabins, and adits. Many of these features are being left in place to naturally disappear over time, consistent with Wilderness Act direction to have no permanent human works in Wilderness. Please enjoy but do not disturb these cultural artifacts. Read more about this Wilderness on the Resources and History page.

Please plan your trip carefully, know the current regulations and follow minimum impact practices

The North Fork John Day Wilderness lies 15 miles southeast of Ukiah, and 25 miles northwest of Baker City, Oregon.

Trailhead access from Baker City and Anthony Lake side

Trailheads from Granite and North Fork John Day River side

See also:

Topo Maps

Anthony Lakes, Bourne, Crawfish Lake, Desolation Butte, Granite, Kelsay Butte, Mt. Ireland, Olive Lake, Pearson Ridge, Silver Butte, The Cockscomb, Tower Mountain, Trout Meadows, Vinegar Hill. Download free U.S. Forest Service Topo maps.

Buy maps online

Go to the National Forest Store.

Go to for online maps and other important Wilderness information.


Day Hiking


Horse Riding

Related Information

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities