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The Dalles Mountain Ranch

April 2007: Spring Again at Dalles Mountain Ranch

Sunrise at Dalles Mtn Ranch
The sun rolls over the horizon to start another sunny, windy day on the hills of Dalles Mountain Ranch.
Balsamroot Greets the Day
In case you're keeping track, this group of photos was taken just after sunrise on April 15, 2007. The flowers on the upper slopes were in full bloom, but many of the flowers on the lower slopes were still about a week away from bloom. So, if you're planning a trip to see the flowers, you can use that as a reference.
Glowing Lupine
Here, the sun back-lights a clump of budding lupine.
These hills are like something from a dream or a painting - one you don't think really exists anywhere. But, it does.
This was new once
The Dalles Mountain Ranch had been a working ranch since 1866, and passed through a variety of owners through the years. Pat and Darlene Bleakney acquired the ranch in 1975. 18 years later, they retired. They wanted the land to be transferred to the public once again, and it was eventually acquired by the Washington State Parks system, which runs it today.
A lived life
The ranch house isn't open to visitors, and is in need of some repair.
The Walls Have Eyes
Light filters through one of the structures on the property. The walls creak with the wind... giving voice to the spirits of history.

April 2006: Enjoying the flowers of Dalles Mountain Ranch

Flowers and a Cone
The rolling hills around the Dalles Mountain ranch have exploded in color. Fields of balsamroot, lupine, buckwheat, and a myriad of other varieties were in full bloom. Mt. Hood provides a snowy backdrop on the horizon.The Timberline Trail is a 36 mile route around Mt. Hood. The trail heads up and down over all the ridges and valleys that emanate from the top of the mountain. In all, the trail gains over 11,100 ft of elevation. Some people take 4 or more days to hike the Timberline trail, others run it in one day. It took me about a day and half to complete the loop. (It's not a race by the way!) A third of the trail, along the west side of the mountain, is the same as the Pacific Crest Trail. Ramona Falls, pictured here, is in that section.
Lupine Patch
Here, a patch of lupine are surrounded by yellow balsamroot
The flowers themselves are a unique habitat for some resourceful insects.
The fields of flowers are so intense and huge, it's really quite difficult to capture them with a camera.
Flower Pops
The area is usually quite windy, but on this day, there was only an occasional breeze.

April 2006: Exploring the hills of Dalles Mountain Ranch

Before the Bloom
The Dalles Mountain Ranch is an area just north of Columbia Hills State Park. About 6000 acres of an old ranch are preserved and open to the public. This includes an old ranch house and a bunch of old equipment nearby.
Columbia View
But, the more interesting part of the ranch (to me at least) is the rolling hill country high above the Columbia river. These grasslands are home to a wide variety of native plant and animal life.
Waves of Earth
A closed road leads to the ridge of the hills - a great place to explore the vast open spaces. Views extend east to the desert plains of eastern Oregon, west to Mt. Hood, and north to the snowy dome of Mt. Adams.
The area is brutally cold in the winter, scorching hot in the summer, and usually windy in all seasons.
Walking on Top
This is a view over the north side of the ridge, to the valley below. There is an FAA monitoring station near the top of the hill, along with a number of communications relay dishes.

Where is it?

The Dalles Mountain Ranch is along a road just a bit west of the turn-off to Horsethief Lake State Park (turn north on Dalles Mtn Road). To get to the hills above the ranch house, turn on the unmarked road just before the house.

Before you go...
Just prepare for the weather. Some of the roads in the area can get a bit muddy and rutted at times.

Joan Chantler
Lovely photos - Thank you! The blooming dates are helpful. Note - this Saturday May 1 there will be a bunch of activities here- wildflower walks, archeologist, stream science, kids welcome.
Mon Apr 26 18:17:09 2010

Great pictures! I love this area! It's a great place to go and just view the amazing scenery!
Fri Dec 25 20:58:01 2009

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