The roadside campgrounds in the National Forests certainly are a nice convenience for weary travelers. Most of the National Forest campgrounds that are next to a paved road are very basic and for the most part they are only designed with stopovers in mind. Other examples that are set a few hundred yards off the highway are more suitable for setting up a basecamp for exploring points of interest in the region, while some basically only exist for seasonal hunters. Each National Forest campground serves a purpose and for a traveler it does take some experience to recognize which ones are a nice fit for the vacation plan.
The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is a primary attraction for many visitors in this remote end of Oregon. It can take several days to experience all of the best birding and wildlife viewing areas in this big wildlife refuge, so setting up a little basecamp is the best way to go. Since the dispersed camping options around the refuge are very limited, the best option is to camp in the neighboring Malheur National Forest and this is where the convenient roadside campgrounds enter the picture. There are several to choose from and one of the most interesting is the Dixie Campground.
The Malheur National Forest Dixie Campground is just far enough off the paved road to minimize noise, but to tell the truth, less than a handful of cars travel on the paved roads in this region on any given night. The Dixie Campground is literally surrounded by a pine forest that is so thick that it is difficult to see further than ten yards into these wood from the campsites, so being bear aware is wise to do. Dixie Summit is right next door and there are several good hiking trails in the area.
The Dixie Campground is most famous for being a seasonal wild berry picking destination, while the campsites practically sit empty the rest of the year. Filling a hat full of berries certainly will provide some healthy snacks and a chance to make some traditional Dutch Oven cobbler for the campfire dessert! Fresh berries are also a prime food resource for bears, especially near hibernation time, so being aware of the surroundings is necessary. Since the Dixie Campground is only about an hour away from the wildlife refuge, this is a nice spot for a basecamp when going on a birding and wild berry picking venture!
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