Lake Billy Chinook Oregon. These photographs were taken back in February of this year. I call this "the canyon". It is actually a lake.
Billy Chinook was from the Wasco Indian tribe and a scout of the area in the late 1800's. Portland General Electric build the Round Butte Dam in 1964, thus Lake Billy Chinook was born, to my understanding on the Warm Springs Reservation. When I go for photographs I am thinking I am standing on reservation land, though if this is just my thinking or if it is true I am not sure?
The area around the lake is public land. 72 acres of shoreline, some of it you really need to hike down too if you do not go by water. The surface area is supposedly 4000 acres. I am sure it is, just we see it so much that sure seams like a lot, 4000 acres haha! We hike out into this public land and really, see no other hikers but we do see where people have been . Hiking out into this public land we have been followed by coyote,the turkey vulture and seen other wildlife such as the rattlesnake.
Lake Billy Chinook is known for the fishing. Metolius river flows into Lake Billy Chinook. Where the river joins the lake the Osprey nest there. It has been my experience as a wildlife photographer one can see osprey there quite a bit of the year. They do shut the road off due to wildlife habitation. It has been said that the bald eagle nests that way, though we have came across no nesting bald eagles. Though the area is a hot spot to see bald eagles pretty much year round. One can hike into the area. It is a nice hike with the barren road, though there are a few houses, only one can really be seen. Bear have been known to visit the area, so be careful! We have yet to see, or even read warnings of cougar.
For a wildlife photographer who knows where to go the place is just beaming with wildlife!! Though in the summer months the tourists really do take over and the secluded camping grounds do become little cities for those to get away and "camp". For us who want to see wildlife find the "off" visiting times is the best. Which is really any time but the summer months. Though I have photographed the bald eagle, coyotes, osprey and other wildlife when the tourists were around. We have never had a problem with hunters! The canyon is really a rough walk for someone wanting to hunt, or that is my opinion.
If you do plan on coming for photography or site seeing for wildlife not only are the camping areas closed down (seeing mule deer comfortably eating and laying around on the camping sites used during the tourist season is not uncommon. We even seen a rather large herd of elk passing through!), but as I mentioned some of the roads are closed down. Though finding lodging in one of the nearest towns is always possible at the "off season". Madras is the closest of the bigger towns. Oh I think Madras is under 7000 people now. No real logging in the smaller towns, one which we live in. There is the places for travel trailers etc.. Remember in dead of winter we may just have snow on the ground too!!
Madras being the biggest closest town nearest Lake Billy Chinook is a good place to lodge at. There is the new "look" of Madras. New faces on old buildings, updated motels, even a brand new place was built right across the street from the safeways!! It is huge and fancy! If you have been to Madras before, you wont know it now. New restaurants, new this and new that. Though there is always Redmond and Bend.
So if you are coming to Lake Billy Chinook and / or the area for photography, bring extra everything. Bi Mart does have a limited supply of things as cards, however I have not found anything really else in Madras for camera supplies, but than again things are always changing there! Make sure you know what the weather is going to be like!!