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By: Dave Helgeson

Morrow County OHV Park, Oregon

A fun spot for large all all wheel drive ATVs to play.
A fun spot for large all all wheel drive ATVs to play.

My wife and I had the occasion to travel through the northern part of central Oregon recently. Since our machines were in the back of the truck, I marked areas on the map where we could ride. Morrow County OHV Park was one of these areas. I didn’t find much information on the area at the time, so I didn’t schedule much time for us to play there. Had I known the amount and quality of the available trails, I would have planned to stay longer.

The park sits on 6,200 acres of forested land that forms the southern border of Morrow County, Oregon. Access to the park is via Hwy 207 between milepost 21 and 22, roughly 30 miles south of Heppner, Oregon. If you look at your map, you will see that this is just about in the middle of nowhere. This is a good thing if you like it quiet with few other riders on the trails. The drawback is you need to bring everything needed for your stay with you including fuel.

Currently the park contains over 160 miles of trail to ride. Even though it was mid July during our visit, the grass was still green and the trails moist, so dust wasn’t much of a problem. The trails we rode were easy ATV dual track practically void of rocks and roots. For the more adventurous riders, there are more difficult rated trails in the park.

Amenities: In addition to miles of great trails there is: an ATV/motorcycle play area, 4x4 play area which would be fun on a larger all-wheel drive ATV, several designated 4x4 trails with rock crawls along the route, children’s play area which is close by the campground, ATV/ motorcycle wash area to inhibit the spread of noxious weeds, large loading and unloading area, 12 pull-thru camp sites and two day-use areas. The park is at an elevation of nearly 4,300 feet and consists of rolling hills with pine trees. The park gets considerable snowfall in the winter so the principal riding season is May through October. Mid summer you can expect highs around 80 degrees and cool evenings, perfect for sitting around the campfire after a day of riding. Bring your bug spray as there are mosquitoes. During the winter, this area can also be used as a SnoPark for snowmobiling and cross country skiing. Large maps are posted in the staging areas and the trails are well marked at the junctions.

One of the smooth easy trails.
One of the smooth easy trails.

Where to stay: The best choice is camping in the park with a tent or RV. There are 12 pull-through camping spaces which will run you $10 per night. These are standard sites with no hook ups. There is also plenty of space in the parking/loading area where you can camp, but it's out in the open on fractured rocks, while the established camping area is in a grassy treed area. On-site concessions are also available from the camp hosts. A map of the campground can be viewed at: http://www.aghost.net/images/e0004202/ohvparkmap.pdf

Rider cabins have been recently added; the cost is $37.50 /night. Interested persons can contact Morrow County Parks for reservations.

If you want a hotel, you will need to stay in Heppner 30 miles away. Northwestern Motel & RV Park 389 N Main St, Heppner, OR 97836. The phone number is 541-676-9167.

If none of these options work for you, try nearby Bull Prairie Campground, like my wife and I did. Bull Prairie is a forest service campground located on a lake a few miles farther south on Hwy 207. The campground has 26 trailer and tent sites each containing a parking pad, table, and fireplace. Water is available, but there are no electrical hook-ups. The roads in the campground are paved. There is a $6.00 overnight fee per unit. There is a boat launch (no motors allowed), large picnic grounds, and a trailer dump station. For reservations, contact the Forest Service at 541-676-9187. Best of all, OHVs are allowed to enter and exit the campground through several nearby forest service roads. In fact, two forest service roads lead directly to the Morrow County OHV area. Take forest service road #2039 north where it turns into #2128. If you continue traveling north on #2128 it will lead you directly to one of the day use areas of the OHV Park. Total distance from the campground to the OHV Park is about 3 miles, just enough time to warm up your machine and hit the trails. These forest service roads and others in the area are part of a separate OHV area called “West End Riding Area.” I will cover those in another “Places to Ride” article.

One the few unbridged water crossings.
One the few unbridged water crossings.

Now for the rules and regulations for your safety and mine:

1. No shooting of firearms in park.
2. Day use area is open from daylight to dark.
3. No motor vehicles off marked roads or trails.
4. No overnight camping allowed out on trails.
5. ATV sticker is required on all Off Highway Vehicles.
6. Reduce noise from 10:00 pm to 6:00 am.
7. Keep garbage in garbage cans.
8. Spark arrester is required.
9. Turn park water off when not in use.
10. Silencer required (Max. 99 db).
11. Keep fires in designated fire rings or grills only.
12. Speed limit in Day Use Areas - 10 MPH.
13. No trespassing on private property.
14. Keep dogs on leash at all times.
15. No OHV use on USFS Road 21.
16. All riders under 18 must wear a helmet.

Contact information:
Morrow County Public Works
PO Box 428 Hwy 74, Lexington OR 97839
Phone: 541-989-9500
Web: http://www.morrowcountyparks.org
Email: mcparks@co.morrow.or.us

Be safe, enjoy, and I hope to see you on the trails


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