Kayaking the Warner Wetlands
Kayaking the 10-mile-long Warner Valley Canoe Trail in southern Oregon, June 16, 2019. BLM photo: Chris Bishop
In good water years, a kayaker’s paradise bubbles up in the south-central Oregon desert.
The Warner Valley Canoe Trail is 10 miles long and in wet years can connect several of the pothole lakes that make up the Warner Wetlands.
Kayaking in the middle of the Oregon desert, with mountain views to the west, is “a very secluded, wilderness-style experience,” said Chris Bishop, a BLM recreation staffer in southern Oregon.
Right now, the lakes are about 85 percent filled up, said Bishop. Water levels fluctuate year-to-year, depending on snowpack and drought conditions, he added.
Generally, every three out of 10 years the entire 10-mile-long canoe trail is accessible, Bishop said, but even in low water years there are places to paddle.
Driving through the Oregon desert to the wetlands, northeast of Lakeview and on the west side of Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, is a surreal experience, Bishop said.
“It really is kind of like going through the Nile in the middle of the desert,” he said. “That water really shouldn’t be there.”
Once on the water, paddlers can explore a myriad of backchannels, going from one lake to another.
“It really is unique,” said Bishop of the wetlands, “there’s nowhere else like it in the desert.”
📍 More information on how to visit, including contact information for the local BLM office and a detailed map: www.blm.gov/visit/warner-wetlands
Photo and video archive: bit.ly/2YFP39x
📲 For more background on the special ACEC designation: goo.gl/FU8FBP