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Tag Archives: basalt

From the lands with few trees and granite and then sandstone, we drove to the land of basalt and junipers. Lots of junipers. So many that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is cutting down or pruning many of the junipers. I don’t know why – maybe to ease fire danger or provide more rangeland for cattle. I really like the junipers. They seem to grow right out of solid basalt with little dirt. There were some cottonwoods and willows along the river.

We camped south of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southern Oregon. It’s a very pleasant campsite with a river on one side and a spring-fed creek on the other. We were next to the creek. The dogs loved it. They could cool off any time they wanted. We toured the refuge and some areas around it and also walked and walked, right from the campsite. It was a very relaxing place.

The girls and I took the camper out for one night (it was supposed to be two nights) as a shakedown cruise before we get fully into camping season. Sadly, there is a water leak to be fixed. Wish us luck on that. Because of the leak and windy weather we returned after one night.

We chose a campground about 100 miles from home, far enough away to seem really different from here but close enough for a short trip. It is located along the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail, a very dramatic landscape. You can learn more about the historic floods here.

After dinner, the girls and I enjoyed a long walk through the basalt coulees and sagebrush, listening to birds and searching for tiny wildflowers. Sunset and moonrise were delightful. The landscape is beyond amazing and the skyscape was equally lovely that night.

Last week Mary Ann and I took our dogs, Frida and Luna to an agility trial about 150 miles south of here. We traveled through the lower Grand Coulee and stopped for a short hike in the basalt country. It’s an area near where I used to live and hike on a regular basis and I miss the dramatic rocks and canyons. This area was formed out of molten lava that flowed from ground fissures. Later it was scoured by numerous ice age floods that sculpted the dramatic coulees and rock formations. Now there are many lakes and other water features – many made by humans with dams and irrigation canals. Still it retains a rugged beauty that I always enjoy. As for the agility trial – we had one good day out of three.

Diamond Craters is an ‘Outstanding Natural Area’ in SE Oregon just east of Malheur NWR. I searched the BLM website to find out just exactly what defines an area to be an ‘Outstanding Natural Area’ and didn’t come up with an explanation. Let’s just go with the idea that it’s a pretty cool place that came about due to natural forces. The Diamond Craters are a series of lava craters and domes and tubes where lava poured out of the earth perhaps as recently as 6000 years ago. It is in an area of Oregon’s high desert country with nice shrub steppe and juniper habitat. We saw pronghorn and interesting birds including a Black-throated Sparrow – a lifer for both of us.


A landscape that harkens back to the old west.


Standing above a large crater. You can see our truck near the lower rim for prespective.


Ripples of lava hardened to basalt rock covered with mosses and lichens.


This one had Rock Wrens and Canyon Wrens singing in it.


More ripples. It looked sort of like asphalt.


Back in that cave, just under the ceiling, is a Barn Owl. From the looks of the site, it has a nest in there. We saw it fly around the crater and wondered if it was scoping us out.


More amazing mosses and lichens.









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