Hart Mountain Astronomy Site

Hart Mountain

Overview

Hart Mountain is a fault-block mountain, in Lake County, Oregon, U.S, which is named for the heart-shaped brand used by the pioneer ranchers Henry C. Wilson and his son-in-law C.G. Alexander. The top of the mountain is part of the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, which hosts pronghorn antelope and bighorn sheep. At the western base of the mountain lies the Warner Wetlands ACEC, a reserve managed by the Bureau of Land Management and home to waterfowl and other wildlife. A trail leads half a mile into the wetlands to a hide.

Activit├ęs in the area and the surrounding refuge include:

  • Wildlife photography and observation are the most popular refuge activities. There are permanent blinds throughout the refuge.
  • Hiking is encouraged, but trails are not maintained, though most of the terrain permits cross-country hiking.
  • Backpacking is the only way to experience remote parts of the refuge.
  • Camping is free, but there are no reservations, and there is a 14-day limit. Generators and power equipment are prohibited.
  • Bicycling is limited to roads open to motor vehicles, but the rough roads require sturdy bikes.
  • Fishing is allowed in a few locations, with an Oregon fishing license.
  • Hunting is permitted for a very limited number of deer, pronghorn and bighorn sheep.
  • Rock collecting is limited to 7 pounds per day, only surface objects may be collected, Digging and blasting are not allowed

Logistics

It is important to know ahead of time that none of the roads are paved and most are not passable for those in passenger automobiles. There are a few roads that are graded, but most of the roads are dirt ruts, which means that all those who visit should be adequately prepared with a car that can handle these roads. There are no services are available within the refuge, except compressed air, potable water, and a restroom at the refuge’s headquarters.

The nearest fuel and grocery is in Plush, Oregon, which is located 25 miles west, and Frenchglen, Oregon which is 50 miles east. The city of Lakeview, Oregon is 65 miles to the southwest and is the nearest city with basic services such as vehicle repair, lodging, and medical care. Please plan to make sure that fuel is at adequate levels

Astronomy

As Hart Mountain being so far from light pollution and cities, it is one of the darkest places that one can go do astronomy in the state of Oregon. With a plethora of options of places to be outside far away from society and others and light, Hart Mountain is a great place to find options for viewing using a telescope and DSLR photography. However, for astrophotography that requires electrical outlets, the best options would be to go to one of the cabins as there should be electrical outlets.

Location

How far outside of Portland? ~398 miles depending on the route taken. This make the drive around 7 hours and 47 minutes depending on route taken, traffic, and stops.
Google Maps Location

Overnight Accommodations

The US Fish and Wildlife Service manages 4 primitive campground sites, which are all free to use, but are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Drinking water is not available at the campsites, as it can be found at the Refuge Headquarters and Camp Hart Mountain; pit toilets are available at all campgrounds. Campfires are allowed only in designated fire rings at Hot Springs Campground and Camp Hart Mountain Campground, but bring your own firewood since it is not available to purchase and collecting is not allowed.

The table below shows where some of the campgrounds are, and seasonal availability of these sites.

NameLocationSeasonal Availability
Hot Springs Campground4 miles south of Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge headquartersyear-round
Camp Hart Mountain Campground15 miles from Plush on the Hart Mountain Roadyear-round
Post Meadows Campground14 miles from the refuge HQDepends On Road Access

There are 3 cabins available in the area as Hart Mountain Cabin has 1 cabin and Back of Beyond Cabins has 2 cabins available for reservation.

Current Seeing Conditions/Forecast Charts

Make sure to follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and make sure to view our other unique astronomy sites such as this one for more places to view astronomy in the Pacific Northwest.

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