We have experienced a mild winter in northeast Oregon and spring is in the air. As you travel the byway, keep the camera ready for capturing an image of Rocky Mountain elk, mule and white-tail deer, big horn sheep, coyotes, and a wide array of waterfowl. They are unafraid and easy to see this time of year.
It’s calving season in cattle country along the byway! Watch for newborn calves frolicking in the valley pastures. Worried and scolding mother cows can be seen, trying to curb their baby’s enthusiasm for newly discovered mobility. The playful antics and splendid facial markings, particularly on calves of mixed breed, are photo-worthy for every animal lover.
Where there are new calves, you will also find Bald Eagles. Always a treat to see, the noble birds act as a cleaning crew in calving grounds. Recently, over 20 Bald Eagles were seen in one field near Haines, Oregon. Watch for them soaring above meadows, standing in the middle of a herd of cows, or perched in willows and cottonwood trees.
Terry Richards, a writer for the Oregonian newspaper and a loyal fan of the Wallowas, recently posted an article on OregonLive.com about the magical mountain range. Read his tips and advice, then come explore.
But remember, just because it is spring in the valleys and the snow line is moving up the mountain sides, travel in the high passes can still be dangerous. Snow clogs many of the passes and you should not continue if you encounter drifts in the road. It will get worse as you move higher and you could get stuck and unable to turn around. Cell service is not available in many remote places. Stay cautious, don’t go into unfamiliar places and enjoy the lower elevations or stick to the well maintained roads.