Near the painted hills of Central Oregon, between the Ochoco and Maury Mountains, are ancient western juniper trees.
Juniper Hills Preserve Near the painted hills of Central Oregon, between the Ochoco and Maury Mountains, are ancient western juniper trees. © Rick McEwan

Places We Protect

Oregon

Juniper Hills Preserve

Ancient western junipers and "painted hills" provide a vital migratory wildlife corridor.

Why You Should Visit    

Nestled between the Ochoco Mountains on the north and the Maury Mountains on the south, this remarkably diverse Central Oregon landscape is accented by ancient western juniper trees and features an exceptional array of John Day and Clarno "painted hills" formations.

Juniper Hills serves as a vital migratory corridor for elk, antelope and other wildlife, and hosts a wide variety of wildflowers and grasses.

Location

Near Prineville, in Central Oregon

Size

13,920 acres

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing

Juniper Hills was created from the former Alaska Pacific Ranch, east of Prineville near the town of Post, Oregon's "geographic center." The preserve includes nearly 10,000 acres in public lands grazing allotments. To shape conservation strategies for the entire site, the Conservancy is working with the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.

Conservancy staff and volunteer teams inventory native plants, remove overcrowded junipers and patches of invasive non-native plants, repair fences, and expand discussions with neighbors and partners about the future of this great place.

What to See: Plants

Conservancy botanists have discovered 65 distinct plant communities at Juniper Hills, featuring many native bunch grass species including Thurber's needlegrass, Indian ricegrass and bluebunch wheatgrass. Endemic desert wildflowers thrive in the grasslands, such as the John Day penstemon and scabland milkvetch.

What to See: Animals

Pronghorn antelope, elk and other wildlife use Juniper Hills as a migratory corridor, and redband trout, a sensitive species, are known to frequent preserve creeks into the Crooked River. A diversity of birds nest and forage here; observers have tallied over 70 species.

Juniper Hills Preserve is closed to public access throughout the fall and winter. For more information, please contact Brooke Gray, preserve steward, at bgray@tnc.org.

Please observe the following guidelines while hiking:

  • Stay on the trail. Do not climb the hills or disturb their extremely fragile surface.
  • Don't collect plants, insects or other species or disturb soil, rocks, artifacts or scientific research markers.
  • No dogs. Preserves harbor ground-nesting birds and other wildlife that are extremely sensitive to disturbance.
  • No bicycles or motorized vehicles. Native plants and research sites are easily trampled.
  • No hunting, camping or campfires.
  • Please call 541-477-0151 before visiting the preserve. Feel free to visit the Painted Hills site without contacting preserve staff.  
  • Please bring a bag and carry out any trash you find.