Close-up View of Spotted Frog in Marsh

Big Marsh - Paradise for Oregon Spotted Frogs

Once a shallow 2,000-acre lake, which was filled by volcanic ash during the eruption of Mt. Mazama 7,700 years ago, Big Marsh today is one of the largest, high-elevation wetland/marshes in the nation. A half-hour drive west of Highway 97 from Crescent, it’s a one-of-a-kind resource supporting a wide diversity of Central Oregon wildlife — from elk, to river otters, to sandhill cranes — plus the largest population of threatened spotted frogs in Oregon. A 2.4-mile cross-country ramble invites visitors to explore this natural wonder.
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Photo of Two Spawning Kokanees

Spawning Kokanee at Crane Prairie Reservoir

One magnificent spectacle of nature that recurs every fall in Central Oregon is the spawning of kokanee salmon in the tributary streams of local Cascade lakes. Though an introduced species, these landlocked, lake-dwelling sockeye salmon are no less impressive. Several local streams have kokanee runs in the fall, but three tributaries of Crane Prairie Reservoir — the Upper Deschutes, Cultus and Quinn Rivers — are less-visited, beautiful and easy to access. If looking for an outing on a warm, sunny day in late September or early October, these three kokanee spawning sites are worth a visit.
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Aerial View of Klamath Marsh Narrows

Historical Crossing at Klamath Marsh Narrows

Sometimes the distinctive natural landforms of a place combine with centuries of human activity to create an exceptional mix of geography and history. The Klamath Marsh Narrows is such a place. This three-quarter mile crossing, in the midst of 65 square miles of sprawling marshland, has been used by Native Americans for millennia, by the John C. Fremont expedition in 1843, and by travelers down to the present day. It’s one of the best birding spots in Central Oregon, and hikers can follow in Fremont’s footsteps along the edge of the grasslands, enjoying solitude and sweeping Cascade mountain views.
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