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Photography Camping Retreat at Anthony Lakes
We’re scheduling our first ever Photography Camping Retreat to the beautiful Anthony Lakes in the Elkhorn Range of the Blue Mountains in Eastern Oregon. This scenic area provides many photography and recreational opportunities which we can experience over a long 5 day Fourth of July Weekend. We’ve reserved the 10-site group campground at Antony Lake Campground. Drinking water is available but sites do not provide electricity. For those who do not prefer to camp, VRBO options exist in the old gold mining town of Haines 13 miles to the East of Anthony Lakes. This retreat location puts us in the center of a spectacular, photogenic area with plenty of hiking, fishing, boating, and sightseeing opportunities. At the end, scroll through the gallery of photos of the area and nearby attractions. ABOUT THE AREA The Elkhorn Range of the Blue Mountains has dramatic granite formations following its volcanic past. Near the campground, Granite walls form the base of these mountains while large granite boulders are scattered through the main campground. The area is dotted with dwindling or vacant gold mining towns from the early days of Oregon’s history. Around 240 miles from Bend, the Anthony Lakes area is a photographer’s paradise with small crowds enjoying all the area has to offer. Anthony Lake is the largest, premiere lake of several lakes in the Anthony Lakes Recreation Area. It sits at 7100 feet elevation for comfortable camping on some of the hottest days of the year. The picturesque lake is encircled by a walking path accessible to the campsites. It also provides access to walk-in campsites on the south side of the lake. The beautiful Hofer Lakes are a half mile above Anthony Lake at the base of prominent Gunsight Peak. Trails to Lily Pad Lakes and Black Lake also begin at the campground. For a simple map and overview of the area, see William Sullivan’s write up on the area. ACTIVITIES AT ANTHONY LAKES Hiking. Extensive trails and a nearby forest service road from the campground are used to access nearby lakes, wildflower meadows, and the Elkhorn Crest Trail Boating. Canoes, kayaks, and electric motor boats are permitted. Fishing. Anglers have reported excellent fishing in Anthony Lake which the state stocks with legal sized rainbow trout. Many I spoke with reported catching their limit on rainbows in an hour or two. DAY TRIPS FROM THE LAKE Sumpter Valley Railroad. Trains will be running to the Sumpter Flea Market on the weekend. Diesel locomotives will run on the Fourth of July. Sorry, no train robberies are scheduled during our visit! For more info: Sumpter Valley Dredge State Heritage Area. This is a great, free stop to/from the campground. One of the gold dredges that mined from the waters of the Powder River has recently been renovated. Exploration of the dredge, the surrounding tailings, and the State’s interpretive center/gift shop is a great introduction to Oregon’s gold mining heritage. Since I was there, I believe they’ve opened up to top floors of the dredge for exploration. For more info: The National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center. Five miles east of Baker City, the BLM offers expansive displays and grounds on the era of Oregon’s history. 2018 commemorates the 175th year of the Oregon Trail. Payment made at the gate on the grounds: free for Senior Access Pass holder and others in vehicle. For more info: Geiser Grand Hotel. This historic hotel exudes old world charm featuring an expansive stained glass atrium over the restaurant and numerous other distinctive elements. We have the option of scheduling an approximately hour long tour of the hotel for our group or joining a scheduled tour. Cost is $5. There’s probably no need to worry that the hotel is reportedly haunted! For more info: Ghost towns. The abandoned mining towns Bourne and Whitney can be interesting stops along the way to/from the campgrounds. Bourne is in the mountains about 7 miles north of Sumpter. Whitney is about 7 miles southwest of Sumpter along Highway 7. Sumpter, named after Fort Sumter still visible in town, can technically be called a ghost town except its current residents might differ. PHOTOGRAPHIC OPPORTUNITIES Wildflowers. If the low snowpack continues this winter, wildflowers near the lakes should be abundant or near peak during our visit. Night Sky Photography. The nights of July 2nd through 4th will have better windows to photograph the core of the Milky Way as it moves across the sky behind Gunsight Peak. Bright moonlight at other times will paint the landscape. Sunrise/Sunset Photography. Beautiful sunsets across the Elkhorn Range are visible from the lake. Since I was up late with night photography on visits, I don’t remember the sunrises but I trust they will be similarly dramatic. Wildlife Viewing. Ospreys frequently fish for the rainbow trout. Mountain goats are also known to frequent the nearby peaks. ABOUT THE CAMPING/LODGING The group campsite consists of 10 sites and a stated capacity for 60 campers. We realize some members may not be able to stay all five nights. We recommend at least 3 nights to fit in a variety of photographic vistas and activities. For more campground info: MEALS. At present we will schedule one formal group barbecue dinner on Sunday, July 1st. Of course, I’m sure we’ll have plenty of time to interact during meals or around the evening fire. Drinking water is available at the campground. However, we always like to bring a good supply. OUTINGS. As we get closer, we can talk more about group activities based on mutual interests. We’ll tentatively have at least two night sky events along the lake (7/2, 7/3, 7/4). We can decide later about setting up a tour of the hotel. CHARGING STATIONS. For those without electricity to charge camera and phone batteries, we’ll try to set up charging stations around dinner time when those with RVs and generators will run their generators. More about this later. RSVP. Before you sign up, please take time in advance to consider how you plan to attend. When you RSVP, we will ask 1) if you plan to camp and 2) which nights you plan to attend. Since the group campground has a capacity for 60 campers, if we exceed 10 groups of campers, we ’ll address how we can make the overflow work. I’m confident we can. COSTS. When you sign up, you will be asked to pay only one fee: $30 for the campsite. We’re making it as simple as possible. If you stay for 2 nights it’s $30 for your party. If you stay for $5 nights, it’s $30 for your party. If you sign up and have other accommodation plans, I’ll know from your RSVP and reverse the entire charge. LODGING. There are other campgrounds nearby plus the first come/first served sites in the regular part of the campground. There are VRBOs in Haines, 11 east of Anthony Lake. Many more options are in Baker City but that’s about 30 or so minutes from the lake. I think the Anthony Lake Campground is the nicest of the 3 in the area. A lot of information but that's because this should be a lot of fun. We didn't even talk about 4th of July activities in nearby towns!

Anthony Lake Campground

Forest Road 73, Elkhorn Scenic Byway · Haines, OR


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The Bend Photographers Meetup Group aims to bring all levels of photographers together through shooting, sharing, and socializing in order to help them to improve their skills and expand their knowledge and passion about photography.

We began in 2008 as a focal point for local, aspiring photographers to come together to share, learn, network and explore their passion for photography. We are a welcoming, inclusive group of photographers ranging from beginning through professional levels of skill. We emphasize an interactive development of our skills through a diverse blend of classes, outings, socials, and photo reviews. We emphasize both the technical and artistic aspects of photography. We foster learning as a community of photographers through shooting, sharing, and discussing our photos.

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