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JOHN DAY RIVER In early May of last year, I made a trip to


Oregon’s John Day country, an area filled with interesting history, geology and amazing land- forms. The climate is semi-arid and often warms enough to permit cool but comfortable outdoor exploration in late April and early May, although even in the springtime, snowstorms are possible because this country is relatively high in elevation. If you plan to visit, aim for a spell of good weather. The John Day Country lies south of the horizon for many of us who drive I-84 to Portland. Con- don, Oregon, situated at the northern gateway of John Day Country, is located just under an hour’s drive south of the freeway from Arlington, Oregon on State Highway 19. Condon is located in the midst of wheat farming country. On the drive to Condon, you will pass a number of wind farms located to take advantage of the consistent winds that blow in the wide open rolling foothills of the Blue Mountains. The John Day is one of the nation’s longest


remaining free-flowing rivers. The lower John Day is entrenched in a spectacular canyon carved into Columbia River basalt. It comprises 70 meander- ing river-miles from Clarno to Cottonwood. Most of this section of the river is surrounded by private land, so unless you are a boater it is difficult to access. During my trip last May, I discovered an excep-


tion. The White Elephant Ranch, located on the rim of the John Day River canyon. White Elephant Ranch is a privately owned guest ranch located on a working wheat farm northwest of Condon. The ranch was homesteaded in 1909 by the Seale Family. Guests stay in a comfortable guesthouse. The ranch is popular with hunters who often stay for a week at a time during the upland bird, mule deer, elk and bighorn seasons. Standing on the canyon rim with the John Day River flowing far below in its canyon, you realize that it has to be one of the most awesome places to visit in the Northwest. Contact Andrew Jamieson the owner/manager at White Elephant Ranch, P.O. Box 11 Condon, Oregon, 97823, (541) 384- 4256 or whiteelephantranch@qnect.net. When you’re in Condon, be sure to stop in and visit Country Flowers. Country Flowers is a florist and gift shop that also offers great coffee and espresso, as well as a diverse menu and delicious food. You’ll also find a bookstore stocked regu- larly by the owner of Portland’s famous Powell’s Bookstore scondon).


Painted Hills, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon, May 2012 www.spokanecda.com 45


(www.facebook.com/countryflower-


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