Diamond Craters Recreation Management Area

Quick Facts

Diamond Craters Recreation Management Area

Oregon

(541) 573-4400

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Diamond Craters, an Outstanding Natural Area of 17,000 acres, has some of the most diverse basaltic volcanic features in the nation clustered within a small, accessible area. Located in the high desert country about 55 miles southeast of Burns, Oregon, Diamond Craters is really unlike any other place in North America. This is the opinion held by scores of scientists and educators who have visited and studied the area. It has the "best and most diverse basaltic volcanic features in the United States and all within a comparatively small and accessible area," one geologist summarized.

Named for Mace McCoy's diamond brand, Diamond Craters displays an entire range of eruptions possible in basaltic volcanism. This volcanic area was formed some time in the past 25,000 years, with some of the eruptions taking place as late as 1,000 years ago, and now resembles a thin, rocky pancake with a few bumps. Features identifiable at the Outstanding Natural Area include craters and vents, cinder cones, spatter cones, lava tubes, driblet spires, a graben, and water-filled maar.

Designated on March 14, 1991, the Diamond Loop National Back Country Byway offers a variety of wildlife, historical landmarks and fascinating natural formations. Traveling the 69-mile byway takes you through a patchwork of high desert terrains - from the deep blues of mountain vistas and the dusky sage-covered hills to the red rimrock canyons and the grassy reaches of marshes and valleys. Beyond Diamond Craters, endless recreational opportunities also exist in other nearby BLM lands in the Burns district.

Whether you are exploring a lava flow, stopping at small historic towns, or passing the ranches scattered throughout the valleys between the Steens and Riddle mountains, you will travel back country roads that lead to attractions right out of the "Old West."

Map of Diamond Craters Rec. Management Area

Latitude, Longitude: 43.104868, -118.749504

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Activities

  • Bird Watching

    Bring along your binoculars to spot the waterfowl, shorebirds, hawks and eagles that traverse the Pacific Flyway through the area.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    The Bureau of Land Management has designated several adventurous routes within public lands as Back Country Byways. These are typically unpaved and more remote than other byways and are noted for their scenic attributes. Most of the public lands found along the byways are distant and provide both solitude and recreational opportunities.

    There are two places to access the Diamond Loop Back Country Byway: near the town of Princeton on State Highway 78 (north), or at the junction of State Highway 205 and Diamond Lane (west). It is recommended that you fill up with fuel and food in Burns or at the Narrows before venturing around the byway. Lastly, remember much of southeast Oregon is open range - be prepared to share the byway with cattle and wildlife!

  • Camping

    Camping is allowed throughout nearby BLM lands. There are five designated campgrounds in the Burns District - Chickahominy Reservoir near Riley, and Fish Lake, Jackman Park, South Steens, and Page Springs on Steens Mountain. Camping is also allowed at Mann Lake on the east side of Steens Mountain and at Warm Springs Reservoir near Juntura, but these areas do not have specific sites or use fees.

  • Hiking

    Walk around the Diamond Craters Outstanding Natural Area, home to some of the most diverse volcanic formations in America.Be warned that there are no tourist facilities or maintained trails. If you go hiking, carry drinking water. Watch out for rattlesnakes. If you come upon one, stay calm and allow the snake to glide away.

  • Historic Sites

    Along the Byway, stop in the town of Diamond, originally established as a major supply center for ranchers. Residents of the area can tell you about the history of the recently renovated Hotel Diamond, a legacy of its rancher past. Another site to see is the Pete French Round Barn, built in late 1870. Nearby is another legacy -- the Kiger Mustangs, believed to closely resemble the horses brought over by the Spaniards in the late 16th Century. End your trip in Frenchglen and snap a picture of the famous Frenchglen Hotel, now on the National Register of Historic Places.

  • Wildlife Watching

    If you are a wildlife watcher, keep an eye out for wild horses, mule deer, or pronghorn antelope while you drive along the scenic byway.

Directions

Driving

From Burns, take State Highway 78 southeast for approximately two miles. Turn right onto State Highway 205 and travel south for 46 miles to the Diamond Junction. Turn left at the junction and travel approximately six miles to the junction of Lava Bed Road and Happy Valley Road. Turn left onto Lava Bed Road to access Diamond Craters Outstanding Natural Area.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(541) 573-4400

Links