Camping and camp sites are what Grant County does best. The best way to experience the things that make Grant County special is to go outdoors and stay there. As a service to our readers, starting with this issue, the Gazette is going to offer a detailed look at every public campsite in Grant County.
I'll start with Lone Pine and Big Bend campsites.
These sites are only a mile apart about a mile and a half northeast of the intersection of highways 19 and 402 in Kimberly Oregon.
This picture shows the entire extent of the unincorporated community of Kimberly Oregon. Despite its small size, it is a legitimate address because it has a post office which can be seen through the window on the right end of this building.
Big Bend and Lone Pine are unique in Grant County because they are the only campsites operated by the Bureau of Land Management.
Outsiders may find this a little confusing, but there are a number of different government agencies which operate recreational sites. In addition to the BLM, in Grant County recreational sites are managed by the National Park Service, the National Forest Service, Oregon State Parks and Recreation, Oregon State Fish and Wildlife, Grant County Parks and Recreation and some towns maintain parks and campsites. Each organization has its own priorities and distinctive style.
The BLM's primary mission is to administer publicly owned grazing lands. Therefore their focus is on ranchers and cattle. As a result, the BLM is probably the least tourist minded of the federal agencies. A symptom of this is that, while the BLM does have a website describing these campsites, it is rather difficult to find. This is made even more difficult because \"Big Bend\" and \"Lone Pine\" are both very common place names in the western US. As a service to my readers, here's a link
to the BLM site describing these campsites.
Big Bend and Lone Pine are so close together and so similar that they can be thought of as a unit. The BLM site makes a distinction noting that Lone Pine has picnic tables and is handicapped accessible. Big Bend has no tables although I am not sure what makes it less accessible than Lone Pine.
They both offer dry campsites with very rudimentary toilet facilities and not much else in the way of artificial improvements.
They do offer immediate access to the North Fork of the John Day river. They may be good spots for fishing depending on the season and the mood of the fish. They are probably at their best early or late in the season since the river will be usually be low in mid-summer. Their other special feature is their proximity to Kimberly which is the site of the only commercial orchards in Grant County with fresh fruit available from June through September.