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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The Old Railway along the Deschutes River

Deschutes Canyon - Hiking Central Oregon's First Railway

The original railroad surveys of the Deschutes River Canyon, conducted in 1855 by Army engineers, concluded that “the Deschutes Valley is mostly a barren region…separated from the rest of the world by almost impassable barriers.” In fact, at the turn of the century, Central Oregon was the largest territory in the U.S. without a railroad. Only in the early 1900s, when its wealth of ponderosa pine was recognized by commercial interests, was serious rail construction begun south from the Columbia up the Deschutes River. Hikers today can follow a section of this now abandoned rail bed for many miles, with spectacular river and canyon views.
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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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