Oregon’s High Desert

19 Jun

No two deserts are the same. The High Desert in central and eastern Oregon is very different from the northern Chihuahuan Desert I am most familiar with. Comparatively, both are also unlike, but share similarities with, the Sonora and Mohave deserts of North America.

So what makes a ‘desert’? This is one of several ongoing themes in this blog; what defines a desert, their natural and cultural histories, and how we perceive and interact with them. All contribute to our sense of place in desert environs.

This summer I will be in the northern part of the Oregon High Desert, often called the ‘Oregon Outback.’ Although I spent two weeks exploring both the southern and northern area while traveling and living off the back of a small 350cc motorcycle, it was only a brief introduction. This year I will spend three months in one local area while working at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The area is on the Pacific Migration Flyway and the refuge is crucial to migrating birds and local wildlife. Rich natural history surrounds this area: the dramatic geology of volcanic craters and giant fault block mountains, basins and pluvial lakes, and lava tubes. Equally interesting is the cultural history of central and eastern Oregon and its remnants.

I will share my experiences and thoughts as well as snapshots in time and place in posts to come.

Pete French round barn, near Diamond, OR


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