In the 1930s Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area’s native salt marshes were drained and freshwater then irrigated the grasslands here. Local farmers began using the land to graze their cattle. In 1991 the Bureau of Land Management in conjunction with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife took over the management of this unique open area along the Umpqua River.
The O.H. Hinsdale Interpretive Center was immediately built and contains several viewing platforms along with rest room facilities. And what views!
There are 440 acres of open pasture, some of it wetlands, visible from the highway. The other 600 acres are forest of conifer and other hardwood trees. Across the highway is the Umpqua River with Reedsport just a couple of miles west.
The main attraction here is the herd of 100 Roosevelt Elk that reside protected here year around. Oregon’s mild climate and the abundance of food lend to the elk being here all year long.
They can be seen across the way, up close and sometimes on the roadside. Fences don’t mean much to the largest elk in the world. Elk watchers pull in to the safety of the extended viewing areas but many just park alongside the highway to watch. Some set up cameras and video cams on tri-pods and shoot away oblivious to the highway traffic. The Elk have been here since the 1930’s but are not the only wildlife that reside here. They are joined by seasonal flocks of Canadian Geese, beaver, muskrat, coyotes, red-legged frogs and the Great Blue Heron. Migrating ducks stop here on their journeys and resident waterfowl nest during the summer months. An Oregon black bear might wander through now and then, too.
During mating season the male Elk put on many spectacular shows with the sounds of their clashing horns echoing across the valley.
Across the highway during the spring the O.H. Hinsdale Rhododendron Garden bursts forth with multitudes of vibrant ‘Rhody’ colors. Be sure and stop at this day use area to take in all that it has to offer on your travels along the Umpqua River. And stop in about 16 miles east to say ‘hello’ to us here at Umpqua River Haven. Let us know what you think of our beautiful Umpqua River Valley and Oregon Coast. www.umpquahaven.com
Our friend, Mark, took all of these great photos of the Elk.