The Ochoco Mountains
National Recreation Area


The Ochoco Mountains National Recreation Area aims to strike a balance between conservation, recreation, and restoration. By proactively planning for the coming attention, we can keep our mountains beautiful and wild so that future generations can recreate and experience the Ochoco Mountains as we do today.

The Recreation Area

The proposal is to pass legislation that would designate about 312,000 acres of the Ochoco National Forest as a Recreation Area (including some adjacent BLM lands).  Hunting, hiking, fishing, mountain biking, horseback riding, cross country skiing and just about any other form of low impact recreation you can imagine would forever have a place in the Ochocos.  A special designation would allow the Forest Service to apply for more funding to improve recreation opportunities such as trails and campsites. 

See map of the proposal here


The Lookout Mountain and North Fork Crooked River proposed wilderness areas offer unmatched beauty and seclusion within the Ochoco Mountains.  They have vibrant rivers, gorgeous old-growth ponderosa pine stands, and rare fish and wildlife.  These roadless areas provide important habitat for Rocky Mountain elk, mule deer, redband trout, and many more. Within these proposed wilderness areas, backcountry recreationists will enjoy quiet and seclusion away from cars, snowmobiles, or other motorized vehicles.  Wilderness is where “the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man” and you can find those primeval characteristics in these proposed wilderness areas.

The proposal includes about 26,000 acres of wilderness, which entails roughly 7% of the total acreage. Currently, 1.4% of the county is protected as wilderness.

See map of the Lookout Mountain proposed wilderness area here
See map of the natural fire breaks on Lookout Mountain here
See map of the North Fork Crooked River proposed wilderness area here


The proposal would encourage restoration thinning of forests and responsible fuel reduction projects.

Fire fighting

Fire would continue to be fought throughout the National Recreation Area, including the proposed and existing wilderness areas.


The proposal doesn't change any grazing rights.  It does allow grazing permit buyouts by willing sellers.

Private Lands

Private lands are not affected by the proposal.

For a downloadable pdf factsheet of the proposal click here

OHV Proposal

Unfortunately, the Forest Service has unveiled a plan that opens up 135 new miles of ATV and other off-highway vehicle routes over 301,000 acres, right through the heart of the proposed Ochoco Mountains National Recreation Area. This misguided proposal would establish miles of trails that would crisscross old-growth forests, disrupt wildlife, facilitate the spread of noxious weeds, degrade water quality in the North Fork Crooked River watershed and displace other low impact forms of recreation. The proposed National Recreation Area would encourage traditional, non-motorized forms of recreation and ATV use would be limited to designated roads. 

See map of the OHV proposal here

 Please read this new detailed report that sheds light on the illegal ATV activity despite designated systems across central Oregon.

Current Threats

Owl photo courtesy of Scott Carpenter

A very special thanks to Jim Davis & Sarah Cuddy for providing the beautiful photography featured in this website.