Buckhorn Overlook including Zumwalt Prairie

buckhorn lookout

Buckhorn Lookout presents one of the most vast and beautiful canyon views anywhere, even if you've visited The Grand Canyon. This beautiful drive travels through Oregon’s largest natural intact grassland: The Zumwalt Prairie. In June there are wildflowers galore and the emerald green fields of grass when they’re moving in a breeze are a sight to behold.

Expect to see deer, hawks and ground squirrels. Don't be surprised to see massive herds of Elk, Golden and Bald Eagles, badgers, coyotes and possibly bobcats, bears, wolves or cougars. This is wild country and it has wildlife to match.

Plan to bring a picnic lunch or dinner because you'll probably want to spend time oogling over the majesty of it all. If you stay till after dark, the stars from this location suffer very little light pollution making the milky way stand out on moonless nights.

If you come in late July to August be sure to check the forested areas for Huckleberries- they’re a scrumptious treat!

There is also an adjacent forest service campground in case you'd like to spend the night. The campground is a short distance from the lookout in a small forested canyon. It's a little dark and creepy, made all the more so with the possibility of howling wolves.

See & Read More:

The Prairie of the Wallowas (Zumwalt)

The Nature Conservancy Preserve Page

View the morning Buckhorn Morning Panorama

View the evening Buckhorn Labeled Panorama

Getting There:

Distance Totals: Joseph to Zumwalt: 24 Miles. To Buckhorn: 42 miles

Road Conditions: Paved Hwy to Gravel, sometimes rough. You’ll need decent tires for this trip! Best advice: Drive Slow- under 25mph through rough areas.

Preparations: Gas up before you depart and check your spare! The full, round-trip excursion takes at least 4 hours and services are sparse, so bring water or better yet- plan a picnic. There is cell service along most of the route and also at the lookout.

Driving Directions: Set your trip odometer at the Joseph Market and head north on Hwy 82, towards Enterprise. At the 2.9 mark turn right onto Eggleson Lane which will sweep north (Left) again onto Crow Creek Road. Stay on Crow Creek Road which will head generally east until at the 9.4 mile mark where you’ll take a right at the ‘Y’ onto Zumwalt Rd. If you’d like to visit the Zumwalt Prairie Preserve, continue on the Zumwalt road and at the 22.2 mile mark turn onto Duckett Road (716 Road), otherwise continue NE another 20 miles on the Buckhorn-Zumwalt Road to the overlook. Watch out for cows which may be on the roadway.

Crow Creek Road

Leaving the Wallowa Valley and civilization behind.

The Zumwalt

The prairie is a beautifully unique landscape.


The prairie at one time was more populous than it is now.

National Forest

Leaving the prairie and entering the forest.

Mixed Forest

The region is mixed with dense stands of Lodgepole Pine and park-like meadows of old-growth Ponderosa Pine Trees.


By mid-May to early June the wildflowers come into full swing.

Buckhorn Lookout

The lookout is a small building that sits on the ridge. These have been unmanned for some time now; their jobs have been replaced by satellites.

Buckhorn View

Off to the southwest are the distant Wallowas.

Buckhorn Lookout

A reader board tells the history of the Cowboys and the Nez Perce that grazed their livestock in this vast area.

Starry Nights

The light pollution is almost nonexistent, making for incredible stargazing and astro-photography.

Elk Herds

While traveling through the Zumwalt, look for wildlife- It's not unusual to spot large herds of elk.