Were I to create my own “Eden,” I would model it after the Zumwalt Prairie. Located in Wallowa County in the extreme northeast corner of Oregon, it is an incredible grassland of 330,00 acres atop a basalt plateau. This high altitude prairie ranges from 3,500 to 5,000 feet and lies along the western edge of Hells Canyon. Cattle ranching here has respected the needs of land as the excellent book, “The Prairie Keepers,” describes. The high elevation, long, harsh winters, and poor soils made farming difficult. Thus, much the original habitat remains for plants and animals. Hawks thrive here. The Nature Conservancy also manages a considerable amount of land here as well.
Meg and I love to visit in the late spring/early summer. The solitude, the quiet, the beauty of canyons, hills, and green grass decorated in wildflowers wrap around us, and resharpen our senses. We follow the road as far as Buckhorn Springs, a majesty bench that overlooks the drainages of the Imnaha river before it flows into the Snake river. The Zumwalt roads takes off between the towns of Enterprise and Joseph.