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Located near the Elkhorn Mountain Range, Elkhorn Wildlife Area is best known for the Rocky Mountain elk and mule deer herds that use the area during the winter. To keep deer and elk from feeding on agricultural lands when they come down from snow-covered higher elevations, ODFW operates 10 feeding sites on the area to feed 1,400 elk and 800 deer during the winter months.
A parking permit is required at Elkhorn Wildlife Area. Permits can be purchased at ODFW License Agents (pdf), at ODFW offices that sell licenses and online.
Best time to visit: Elkhorn is closed from December 1 – April 10 each year to protect wintering deer and elk.
An easy way to get started wildlife viewing on the area is to use the two developed sites, each accessible to persons with disabilities—one near headquarters on the North Powder Tract and a second on the Auburn Tract. Visitors can also use the half-mile nature trail located at the Anthony Creek camp site below headquarters.
Due to severe winter weather conditions, only the hardiest birds live at Elkhorn year-round. Many of the songbirds are migratory and only present during breeding and brood rearing season. An active bald eagle nest has been present on a hill adjacent to Piltcher Creek Reservoir since 1997, one of only two known nests in Union County. See ODFW’s Elkhorn Wildlife Area Viewing Guide (pdf) for a comprehensive list of wildlife found on the area and a bird checklist.
Several federally-listed fish and wildlife species are known to occur at Elkhorn, including bull trout, Columbia spotted frog, and interior redband trout. Gray wolves and Canada lynx have not yet been seen on Elkhorn but they do favor the type of habitat found on the wildlife area.
Elkhorn Wildlife Area is also open to hiking, horseback riding and camping. There are two campgrounds on the North Powder Tract; picnic tables and disabled-access portable restrooms are nearby. Campers can stay no more than 14 days in a 30-day period.
Nearby: Fishing is available at Pilcher Reservoir. A primitive camping area is located near the wildlife area headquarters. Anthony Lakes Ski Resort (12 miles west of the North Powder Tract, tel. 541-856-3277), which has the highest base elevation of any resort in Oregon, offers downhill and cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. The National Historical Oregon Trail Interpretive Center (tel. 800-523-1235), east of Baker City on Highway 86, offers living history demonstrations, exhibits, and more than four miles of interpretive trails.
Elkhorn Wildlife Area is located nine miles west of I-84 on North Powder River Lane. From I-84 take the North Powder Exit (Exit 285).
Elkhorn Wildlife Area
61846 Powder River Lane
North Powder, OR 97867