Elkhorn Wildlife Area Visitors' Guide

Located near the Elkhorn Mountain Range, Elkhorn Wildlife Area is best known for Rocky Mountain elk and mule deer herds that use the area during the winter. To keep deer and elk from feeding on agriculture 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 to park at this wildlife area. Find out how to buy a parking permit

Best time to visit: Elkhorn is closed to all public access from December 1 – April 10 each year to protect wintering deer and elk.

Visiting hours:  Always open April 11 – Nov. 30.

What to see and do: 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 Pilcher Creek Reservoir since 1997. 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 have been seen on Elkhorn but no known wolves have taken up residency on the wildlife area.

Elkhorn Wildlife Area is also open to hiking, horseback riding, Mt. biking, and camping is permitted at Anthony Creek camp site on the North Powder tract. There is a first come first serve primitive style campground with horse corrals on the site; picnic tables and disabled-access portable restrooms are nearby. Campers can stay no more than 14 days in a 30-day period.

  • Wildlife: Eagles, owls, hawks, cavity nesters, song birds, Rocky Mt. elk, mule deer, whitetail deer, coyotes, bobcat, cougar, black bear, forest grouse, wild turkey, California quail, small mammals and occasionally waterfowl.
  • Facilities: campground, fishing, hunting, restrooms, trails
  • Hunting and trapping: While Elkhorn is closed every year from December 1-April 10 to protect wintering deer and elk, hunters can find good earlier-season hunting opportunities on the area, which is in the Sumpter Wildlife Management Unit. Hunters can pursue big game (deer, elk, bear, cougar, ground squirrels); upland game birds (forest grouse, California quail, mourning doves, turkey); and waterfowl (ducks and geese). Furbearers commonly found on the area include bobcats, raccoons, badgers, yellow-bellied marmots, snowshoe hares, Belding’s and Columbian ground squirrels. A primitive campground adjacent to the North Powder River is available during hunting season.
  • Fishing: Fish for redband, rainbow and Eastern brook trout on the North Powder River and Anthony Creek, which flow through Elkhorn. ODFW also stocks fish at some high lakes in the Elkhorn Mountains and in the many nearby reservoirs and small ponds, including Wolf Creek, Piltcher Creek Reservoir, Thief Valley, Phillips and ODFW-managed North Powder ponds one and two. Bull trout (a federally-listed threatened and state-listed sensitive species) are known to use the rivers on Elkhorn; remember to release these fish. Visit ODFW’s weekly recreation report online to find out the latest about fishing opportunities at Elkhorn.
  • 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 541856-3277), 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.

Guidelines for area use:

  • Elkhorn Wildlife Area is closed to entry during the period Dec. 1 – April 10, except by permit.
  • Camping is allowed April 11 – Nov. 30, and may not exceed 14 days during a 30-day period.
  • Campfires or open burning is prohibited except at campsites. Open fires are prohibited during designated fire closures.
  • The use of ATVs, motorcycles, or snowmobiles is prohibited on all area lands except for administrative use or by permit.
  • A permit is require to remove firewood, cut trees, dig or remove artifacts or archeological specimens, minerals, sand, gravel, rock or any other material.
  • A permit is required to graze livestock except riding and pack animals in actual use for recreational purposes. Unauthorized livestock or pets such as dogs may be removed from the area and/or impounded at the owner’s expense.
  • Dogs are prohibited from running at large.
  • No person shall display behavior which unreasonably deters, distracts or hinders others in the peaceable enjoyment of the area.
  • Any person may be evicted from the area when continued presence of that person could cause a threat to the rights and safety of others or property.
  • No person, commercial vendor or company shall dispense or sell material, goods, or items on the area, except by permit.

Directions: Elkhorn Wildlife Area and Anthony Creek Viewing site are located about nine miles west of I-84 on North Powder River Lane. From I-84 take the North Powder Exit (Exit 285).

Address and Phone:
Elkhorn Wildlife Area
61846 Powder River Lane
North Powder, OR 97867
(541) 898-2826

Additional resources: