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BLM Prineville - Minerals, Rocks and Fossils Page

Current as of 12/30/2015
Lisa Clark
Public Affairs Officer
Prineville BLM
3050 N.E. 3rd St. Prineville, OR 97754

 

United States Department of the Interior

BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT

Prineville District Office
3050 NE Third Street
Prineville, Oregon 97754

 

 In Reply Refer to: 8360 (ORPOOO)

A PR 07 2009

Dear High Desert Enthusiast:

We are pleased to respond to your inquiry regarding Glass Butte, Oregon, administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Prineville District. Glass Butte is a Rhyolitic Dome created approximately 4.9 million years ago. It is located in a very rugged and remote portion of the High Desert in Central Oregon. Elevations range from 4,700 ft. near the highway to 6,400 ft at the top of Glass Butte. The local vegetation is composed of scattered juniper, mountain mahogany, sagebrush, and a variety of grasses and forbs. Wildlife such as Mule deer, antelope, elk, Golden eagles, Canadian geese, rabbits, and snakes may be observed in the area. Cattle graze on the butte at certain times of the year.

Glass Butte is located off Highway 20 (Hwy 20) between Bend and Bums. The best way to reach the interior of the area is by turning south off Hwy 20 at Mile Post 77. Vehicle access is via unmaintained dirt roads only. During wet conditions, these roads may be impassible. The natural occurring glass of the area increases the possibility of flat tires on these roads. Dispersed camping is permitted however, there are no developed facilities. Some facilities may be available at Hampton, a very small community located about 12 miles west of Glass Buttes. All accessible spring areas are on private land. When visiting the area, practice "leave no trace" camping techniques including packing out your trash, burying human waste (6"-8" deep), and staying on existing roads and in existing primitive camping areas. Check with the Prineville District BLM for current fire restrictions before building a campfire. We recommend that you come prepared for extreme conditions. Temperatures during August can exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. Evening temperatures can become quite cold, and snowy conditions are possible at any time.

Approximately 36 square miles of BLM administered lands surrounding Glass Butte are designated a rock hound recreation area. As the name implies, this geologic feature is associated with the glass-like rock known as obsidian. The area is best known for the availability of a wide variety of colors. The entire rock hound area has been segregated from mining for obsidian and chalcedony, with the exception of three grandfathered claims in the center. The public is allowed to collect "reasonable amounts" (defined as 250 1bs. per person per year) for personal use only, without a permit. Obsidian extraction is by hand tools only - no mechanized equipment (except for claimant on claims). No commercial collecting is allowed (except for the claimant of the three mining claims).

The "Central Oregon Rockhounding Map" includes the Glass Butte area and can be purchased from the BLM Prineville District for a cost of $2.50. Additional Rock Hounding information can be obtained from local rock shops and the Prineville Chamber of Commerce at (541) 447-6304. For further information or assistance from the BLM Prineville District office call John Zancanella at phone (541) 416-6735, email John_Zancanella@blm.gov, or call Berry Phelps at (541) 416-6723, email Berry_Phelps@blm.gov. We hope you have an enjoyable experience!



 
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