After spring and summer spent at home in Washington, we are back on the road for our favorite travel season —fall! While it is always nice to be home, our feet have been terribly itchy and we are overdue for new adventures. Our primary destination this fall is the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. On our way south, we stopped to spend a few days near John Day, Oregon.

Even Indy seems happy to be back on the road

Clyde Holliday State Recreation Site

Over the years, I have read many excellent reviews of the campground at Clyde Holiday State Recreation Site located along US 395 between the small Oregon towns of Mt. Vernon and John Day. The park is a little oasis along the John Day River and it made a great basecamp for hiking in the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness and visiting the Sheep Rock Unit of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. 

Clyde Holliday features a year-round picnic area and a small seasonal campground. 31 first-come, first-served sites are available for camping from March 1–November 30. Sites have 30 and 50 amp electric and water hookups. Hot showers, flush toilets, and RV dump station are available. While there is some road noise from the highway, the sites have a secluded feeling thanks to lush trees and vegetation between sites. We both agreed this was one of the loveliest campgrounds we’ve stayed at! Rates are $26 per night for Oregon residents and $33 per night for non-residents.

A lovely hiking path leads to this pond at Clyde Holliday
Paved roads and sites throughout the park

Strawberry Mountain Wilderness

During our stay at Clyde Holliday, we visited the nearby Strawberry Mountain Wilderness for a hike. Located in the Malheur National Forest, the 68,700 acre wilderness is incredibly diverse with five of the seven major life zones found in North America. Elk, deer, antelope, black bear, cougar, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, grouse, pileated woodpecker, bald eagle, pine marten, mink, and beaver are just a few of the 378 species of animals that call the Strawberries home.

Beneath the Rabbit’s Ears in the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness

For our visit, we hiked to Strawberry and Little Strawberry lakes. I’m guessing this is the most popular hike in the area given its close proximity to the towns of John Day and Prairie City. The trail begins at Strawberry Campground. In Prairie City, turn south onto Bridge Street which becomes Strawberry Road at the edge of town. Take this 11 miles south to the end of the road. The majority of the road is well-graded gravel, but the last couple miles are single lane with a few steep and bumpy sections. The parking lot at the trailhead is relatively small. We visited on a Thursday in mid-September and we returned to a full lot at the end of our hike.

Our route covered 7.2 miles roundtrip with approximately 1,400′ total elevation gain. This included the full loop trail around Strawberry Lake. The trail was extremely well-maintained and all trail junctions were well-marked. Highlights of the hike included the two lakes, a waterfall, stunning cliffs, a bald eagle, 9 mountain goats, and a black bear walking down the trail toward us. What a way to start our fall travels!

Strawberry Lake
Little Strawberry Lake
These cliffs above Little Strawberry Lake are home to an impressive herd of mountain goats
I wish I had my Canon with zoom lens to better capture this black bear coming down the trail

The Adventure Continues

Please join us on our next adventure as we visit the Sheep Rock Unit of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. And don’t forget to check out our Amazon RV and Adventure Gear recommendations. We only post products that we use and that meet the Evans Outdoor Adventures seal of approval. By accessing Amazon through our links and making any purchase (even things as simple as toothpaste!), you get Amazon’s every day low pricing and they share a little with us. This helps us maintain this website and is much appreciated

Happy hour relaxation at Clyde Holliday

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