Bird Nerd

5 Star Route

Note: This is a 5 Star Route, meaning that it is a highly curated, premier riding route.

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is like the Chicago Airport for migrating birds; during fall and spring thousands of birds use these wetlands as a quick layover to refuel and then take off to their final destinations. Birders flock to this refuge to catch a glimpse of the 340 bird species which include an array of geese, swans, ducks, pelicans, and cranes. This route takes you by the various ponds and canals that attract the birds, to a scenic overlook, and finishes with a blaze back on paved roads.  

Besides the amazing wildlife (deer, antelope, rabbits), this route offers up constant views of the Steens Mountain, a fault-block mountain that stretches 50 miles north to south, with a summit elevation of 9,733 feet.  (We highly recommend you climb this mountain on your bike as well, the Steens Mountain loop route.) This entire area is also an artist’s dream: grasses, shrubs, water and big, open skies blend together to create colorful scenery. (Which we never can seem to capture in out photos!) 

3500 years ago, small villages were built around the marshes and along the river. These people were known as the Wada Eaters. [US Fish and Wildlife Service]

Included in this route is a visit to the refuge’s headquarters: you might remember when armed protestors seized these buildings in 2016. For most of the occupation, law enforcement allowed the occupiers to come and go at will. At the conclusion, most of the leaders were arrested, and one was killed while traveling away from the refuge when the group he was leading attempted to evade a police roadblock. **Click to Read More

Adventure / Gravel Route

Loop: 40 miles / 800 ft gain
– Surface: ~ 50% gravel, 50% paved
eBike Friendly: Yes
– Location: ~ Burns, Oregon
– Published: April 2020 (Updated October 2020)

Technical Difficulty & Risk[what this means]

Easy. There is some, but not continuous cell phone reception.

When we like to ride this …

To see the most number of bird species go mid May to mid June. But, we really recommend you take a look at this guide by Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for when to see what birds.

The Start

Narrows RV Park. Store. Flush toilets.
Lat / Long: 43.258045, -118.958199


Wahoo / Garmin Direct Download
Cue Sheet / GPX file / TCX file


Red = paved road
Brown = gravel / dirt road

For help with GPS files, the RideWithGPs mapping app and to learn how to download our routes for free, see the “Using Our Rides” page.

Ridden and Reviewed by …

Gravel Girl / Team Dirty Freehub

She loves a good day of gravel like most people like a good book. She’s always amused by the outdoors and the wild adventures. Gravel Girl is a Co-Founder of Dirty Freehub.

Captain O / Team Dirty Freehub

He should have “Never Stop Exploring” tattooed on his chest! He loves adventures on bikes and is a Co-Founder of Dirty Freehub.

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