Photos of Desert Wildflowers at Central Oregon’s proposed Badlands Wilderness Area
This blog entry is more of a public service announcement than an overwhelming show of photographic talent. My daughter, Emma, and I recently hiked the Flatirons Rock Trail in the proposed Badlands Wilderness area located about 16 miles East of Bend, Oregon and desert wildflowers there are about as good as I’ve ever seen them. It is a perfect time for a hike in the Badlands so that you can appreciate how beautiful of an area it is. Local groups, including the good people at ONDA-Oregon Natural Desert Association have done an immense amount of work to establish this wonderful place as a fully protected wilderness area.
It is my opinion that this special area of Central Oregon should be protected as soon as possible. Lots of good reasons back up my opinion on this issue, including: 1. It is beautiful and accessible for a huge portion of the year as it’s desert climate usually keeps this area free of snow in the winter when alpine trails are only available to hardcore backcountry skiers. 2. A huge majority of the residents of Bend and Central Oregon support the idea of this area becoming an official Wilderness Area. 3. This area is much better protected now that it is a proposed wilderness area than it probably was previously. I’ve spent lots of time in many of the desert areas around Bend, Oregon, mostly scouting for stock photos. Virtually everywhere in the desert areas I’ve been to, with the exception of the Badlands study area, I’ve been shocked by the amount of garbage that has been dumped randomly around these otherwise beautiful areas. I’m of the opinion that garbage begets more garbage. When a place becomes downtrodden with debris, a misconception develops that it is OK to litter and otherwise pollute in that area. I don’t know how the Badlands study area looked 15 years ago, but is virtually free of any sort of debris currently and I do know how non-study desert areas look today, and it’s not good.
If establishing any desert area as preserves it as well as the Badlands area has been, then I am in favor of the protection. I won’t go into the nuances of what activities are restricted and which are not in Wilderness areas but I will say that wilderness areas are open to all people but not necessarily all uses, which is more than fair.
The entire sixish mile long loop trail to flatiron rock was decorated with pockets of color like the wildflowers shown above, which I think are some sort of desert aster. There were also countless old growth juniper trees along the trail. Their ancient and severe form exude character and determination. Their ability to defy time and the harsh high desert climate in the Oregon desert should earn them the respect of any in tune naturalist. I’ve heard that some of the older juniper trees in this area are over 1,000 years old. Amazing!
As the desert is a…..desert, you’ll want to bring sunblock and water and snacks for the family. As summer is beginning to heat up, I’d also recommend you plan your trips in the morning or evening as your hiking will be a bit more pleasant if you can avoid the mid-day heat. The following photo is of a wildflower that I believe is called a “phacelia” which has beautiful lavender colored blooms and like many of the desert wildflowers, it has a very short blooms season, so go for a hike soon if you want to see the phacelia in bloom this year.
This pretty little flower fades from lavender to a lighter lavender to a light green on the inside of the bloom and it has a pleasing glow about it, making it one of my favorite desert wildflowers. The following flowers in the foreground of a classic desert scene are desert monkeyflowers. Their rich pink blooms with yellow centers provide a striking display of color in what would otherwise be an earth-toned palette along the Flatiron trail. This appears to be a great year for monkeyflowers in the Oregon high desert.
In the mid-ground of the above high desert photo are some yellow flowers which are shown in the following photo.
The above flowers, “Oregon Sunshine” are some of the happiest flowers anywhere. In years of high spring precipitation, like this one, they can almost form mats of cheerful yellow flowers. They are another of the bonuses found along the Flatiron trail if you can get there soon. The next to last image in this blog entry Taken in the Flatiron rock formation is of my favorite photo model and hiking, partner, Emma, who also happens to be my daughter! She was a wonderful companion throughout the hike, as she always is. She was also very patient with my photographic habits. All these traits plus she makes me smile everyday, make me feel very lucky.
I should mention that the brief hike to the top of the Flatiron rock formation is well worth the extra effort as the views of the Central Oregon Cascades over the high desert are stunning.
The take home message from this story is that if you live in Central Oregon, now is a great time to experience the beauty of the the proposed Badlands Wilderness area east of Bend, Oregon. The wildflowers won’t last long so get out soon and when you return from your desert adventure, contact your senator and tell them that The Badlands should be permanently protected as a fully designated Wilderness area! For more info regarding the Badlands, please visit ONDA’s website.
For more photos of the beautiful desert areas of Central Oregon, please visit our main stock photo website, Pacific Crest Stock by clicking the following link….High Desert photos.
Thanks for visiting,