Chickahominy Reservoir: Sleep Somewhere WAY Out There In Oregon
If you like your overnights remote and you’re traveling through Oregon, BLM’s Chickahominy Reservoir Campground will be a welcome surprise. On a budget? Couldn’t be a whole lot better. Like to fish? It’s stocked with rainbow trout.
Highway 20, the major east west highway through the center of the state, will bring you right to Chickahominy. You might drive right by, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
Chickahominy Reservoir Campground
Is wind-blasted, sun-baked, exposed, and inordinately bleak in winter. It sits slap in the middle of the Oregon’s eastern desert surrounded by miles of sagebrush. Take a look.
Why would anyone want to spend the night there?
Convenience and a few other serious considerations.
Because it’s there…
Chickahominy Reservoir Campground is a place to rest your tired bones when options are scarce, for 100+ miles. This place is miles from the nearest town, and it seems even further out there because on either side of the highway is flat nothing: high desert, a few buttes in the distance, occasional livestock, scarcely a ranch. Muddy Boots has been known to set the cruise control at 75 mph in this area.
Driving out there looks more or less like this.
This stretch of highway can be a major snooze at night, when views and curious desert features blend into the darkness. Unless you want to stay in a budget-initimidating motel or take a significant detour, places to stay out here are, well, non-existent. Chickahominy Reservoir campground sure beats risky parking for the night at a remote pull-off or settling down in a rest area (only 3 of those in 260 miles). For starters, this campground has a host keeping an eye on things in season.
What to expect?
Not a lot. There are 28 spots, but the facilities are rudimentary. Set on the banks of this remote reservoir—which may or may not have much water in it—the campground is level as can be with not a lot of privacy (there are no trees).
Never mind. There’s running water and vault toilets. You might want to bring your own drinking water, though. Just in case.
Bring your own shade, too. Mid-summer might not be a good time to linger, but check the weather in advance. However, the campground is open year round, at least theoretically. You are unlikely to want to stay there in winter, though, except in desperation. Batten down the hatches.
BLM provides a nice brochure for the Chickahominy Recreation Site that may answer more of your questions.
After darkness settles in, you may want to look up. Chickahominy Reservoir is so out there, on a clear night the stars will be beaming at you by the millions. And then there are the shooting stars if you’re especially lucky. Muddy Boots knows….
By the way, there’s prime trout fishing in this reservoir.
Steens Mountain is a wondrous destination if you’re traveling in eastern Oregon. Take a look at 9 Fantastic Reasons To Drive Out Of Your Way To Steens Mountain OR if you need convincing. Looks fabulous, right? It is. However……don’t allow yourself to get the impression that Chickahominy is near Steens because both are located in the same quarter of Oregon per the map.
Reality check…By the time you gas up in Burns and restock provisions, it’ll be 3+ hours to get to Steens from Chickahominy. And that’s not leaving a whole lot of time for horses in the road, picking up coffee at a remote roadside wagon-stop, photo ops, or chit chatting with a rancher in the grocery store.
Fill your tank
When driving along Highway 20, your gas tank should read FULL as you leave Bend or Burns, especially if you’re driving outside of standard business hours, since you won’t find a 24-hour gas station. Heck, even in daylight you risk not finding gas before your tank empties.
Find it on a map…
Get a fix on the location of Chickahominy on a map. It’s easy to go whizzing right by (ummm, at 90 mph?). Take a look at the sign on Highway 20….
Right near the highway
The campground is a short way in from this sign: low in the sagebrush, you’ll see vehicles or structures from Highway 20 looking north. Very convenient for through travelers.
Chickahominy campground fee?
Firmly in the limited-budget zone. As of this post, overnights are $4 for NPS Senior Pass holders. Yippee!
Take a break…
And, if you don’t want to camp? When the weather is suitable, this is a great place to stop for a picnic and rest for a bit, make a cup of coffee, restock your thermos, throw together a sandwich. There are shade structures for picnickers.
Sites to visit and places to camp near Bend:
Photo credits. Featured image and top…Camp spot at Chickahominy: CC BY 2.0 by BLM via Flickr. Screen shot from Google Maps. Chickahominy Reservoir 2 Reesman ODFW: CC BY-SA 20.0 by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife via Flickr. Road in the high desert, Big Springs Table and Reservoir as seen from Star Route 140: CC BY-SA 2.0 by Ken Lund via Flickr. Chickahominy Reservoir: By Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives, via Wikimedia. Orion’s Belt: CC BY 2.0 by Jean-Daniel Pauget via Fickr. Steens Mountain in Eastern Oregon: CC BY 2.0 by BLM via Flickr. Riley, Oregon: CC BY 2.0 Oregon Department of Transportation via Flickr. All others, Chickahominy Reservoir, click on photo for credit: CC BY 2.0 by BLM via Flickr.