The American pronghorn is the fastest land animal on the continent. Nearly hunted to extinction in the early 1900s, the pronghorn population has bounced back with the help of protected habitat. Since 1936, the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge has provided a haven for the pronghorn and other important high desert species like the greater sage-grouse and the California bighorn.
The 278,000-acre refuge has few developed services, but instead it has countless opportunities for primitive recreation. The wide open terrain is perfect for exploration by foot or by horseback. Pick up a hiking brochure at the visitor information center, open 24 hours a day, at the top of the plateau. Or, set off on your own and see where your curiosity takes you.
There are four campgrounds within the refuge to serve as a base camp for an extended stay. Several gravel roads cross the refuge. Many are only open seasonally, so check the website or call the office at 541.947.2731 to get current weather and road conditions before traveling.
Hunting is allowed on the refuge during specific dates in the fall and winter. It's the only time of year when the refuge sees many visitors. Plan your trip around these dates if you're seeking solitude and quiet.
And don't forget to visit the hot springs while you're there. The Hart Mountain Hot Springs is one of the most remote and scenic soaking pools in all of Oregon.