Oergon Backcountry Discovery Route, OBDR, Route 5 resource thread.

Discussion in 'Pacific Northwet - Where it's green. And wet.' started by Sparrowhawk, Aug 26, 2012.

  1. Sparrowhawk

    Sparrowhawk Long timer

    Sep 26, 2005
    Eastern Washington, USA
    Hey folks,

    The last week of July, four of us rode the OBDR from north to south. I did a little research before hand and thought I'd post it for reference along with what I found for those planning to ride the route. This information is the state of things in 2012 and subject to chnage.


    US Forest Service maps - most of the route is through USFS land except for the middle desert part from Riley to Christmas Valley. The appropriate maps from north to south are Umatilla, Whitman, Malheur, Freemont.

    OOHVA maps - These maps are OK for planning purposes but essentially useless for motorcycle use on the route. They are heavy, take up a lot of space, and the flipping will drive you crazy. They might be handy for a Jeep with a navagator. You can decide if they are a good value or not as a planning tool but leave them at home.

    DIY maps from DeLorme or Garmin Topo can be useful.


    Fuel is not a problem for the most part. Here are the distances between gas stops. We had some bike and rider issues that prevented us from staying on the route the entire way. We had to divert for repairs and a couple of times we just short-cut parts by taking the highway because of time so some of these are estimates based on DeLorme map tools instead of GPS readings. The longest stretch is between Walla Walla and Ukiah at 170 miles if Tollgate doesn't have any for sale. You can also detour to La Grande to make it shorter.

    Walla Walla to Tollgate - 55 mi.
    Tollgate to Ukiah - 115 mi.
    Ukiah to Sumpter - 90 mi.
    Sumpter to Unity - 50 mi.
    Unity to Seneca - 100 mi.
    Seneca to Riley - 145 (estimate)
    Riley to Christmas Valley - 85 mi.
    Christmas Valley to Paisley - 80 mi. (estimate)
    Paisley to Lakeview - 75 mi. (estimate)
    Lakeview to New Pine Creek and back to Lakeview on 395 - 70 mi. (no gas in New Pine Creek)

    Towns and fuel stops:

    Between Walla Walla and Lakeview you won't find much in the way of groceries available. The only fresh food we found were some softish potatoes in Seneca. Otherwise, it's canned goods and boxes of mac & cheese. Hot food is weenies on the hot rollers. The Deschutes Brewery has done a good job with distribution so good beer is avaiable most places.

    Walla Walla - This medium sized town has all the services you could need. It makes a good place to spend the day if you like wine.

    Tollgate - Tollgate Shopping Center & Restaurant, 62393 Hwy 204, 541-566-3661. These folks cater to snowmobiles and don't always carry gas in the summer. They did not have gas available in July 2012.

    La Grande - Off route but has MC repair shop and all the things found in a larger town.

    Ukiah - Dan's Ukiah Service, 203 W. Main, 541-894-2304. Dan is a little contrary and not quite plumb. If he doesn't like you he won't sell you any gas. He takes cash but doesn't always give change. Have small bills handy and smile a lot. The Thicket Cafe & bar has good food, a wide choice in beers, and friendly service. There are limited groceries and liquor available in Ukiah.

    Granite - No gas or other services.

    Sumpter - Stage Shop, 120 Sumpter Hwy, 541-894-2304. There are limited groceries and a restaurant in town (The Scoop & Steamer which closes at 2 PM Tu - Th)

    Prairie City - 30 miles off route but has gas, groceries, cafe, & liquor. Voigt Chevron, 114 E. Front St. 541-820-3722.

    Unity - Burnt River Market, 304 Main St, 541-446-3660. Limited groceries & warm food in one-building town.

    Seneca - Bear Valley Store, 209 Barnes Ave, 541-542-9309. Limited groceries. (25 miles to John Day)

    Riley - Riley Store & Archery, 17674 Hwy 20, 541-493-2527. Limited groceries.

    Christmas Valley - Christmas Valley Market & Chevron, 87497 Christmas Valley Hwy, 541-576-2200. Limited groceries.

    Paisley - Chewaucan Garage, 433 Hwy 31, 541-943-3124. Restaurant & bar sell good food with friendly service. The Mercantile has a fair selection of food & liquor. The Summer Lake Hot Springs is located just north of Paisley and is worth a stop or overnight.

    Lakeview - plenty of gas stations, restaurants, and goods available in this medium sized town.

    New Pine Creek - No gas or other services.

    Cell phones:

    Verizon had coverage for much of the route, even in the backcountry, along with 3G. AT&T was mostly useless for phone or data.

    Route notes:

    Do your GPS homework before you leave home. Much of the route goes through a corn maze of unmarked USFS roads, private roads, closed roads, and dead-end roads through the forest where you can't see very far. USFS maps, OOHVA maps, USGS topos, and DeLorme/Garmin software maps will conflict with each other and what you find on the ground. The waypoints you can get are often too far apart to give much of a clue of which road to take to get to the next one. Marking a route on your GPS will save a lot of time but you will still have to make it up as you go some times. We found the stretch between Seneca and Riley to have the most difficult routefinding.

    Travelling in a group is challenging. The route is dusty but if you split up to avoid dust and wait at every questionable intersection it will be slow going indeed.

    Mud will be a part of the experience. There were parts between I-84 and Sumpter that had us picking up bikes and it had been dry for weeks. Parts between Walla Walla and Tollgate were dry for us but the ruts were deep. It must be interesting in wet weather.

    Be prepared for the desert. The stretch between Riley and Christmas Valley can be hot and lonely. A solo traveller having a breakdown could be life threatening. 100+ temperatures, no shade, and no other people makes it a very special experience but it deserves respect.


    You may or may not need the Oregon ATV permit for riding the OBDR. I can't speak for other states but if you have a Washington license plate you are good to go without the Oregon sticker. There is more information here http://www.oregon.gov/oprd/ATV/pages/reciprocity.aspx Because Washington plates are good for Washington ORV trails they are also good enough for Oregon.
    Hope you find the information useful. :beer
  2. Dr Klaun

    Dr Klaun Been here awhile

    Jun 1, 2007
    Tumalo, OR
    Thanks for the info! I hope to get some time next year to ride this route.

    One item to revise - There is fuel in Granite at the general store. I was through there in June and you had to go in and ask, as their pump was broken (has sign on it that said "pump broken") and you could easily assume that they couldn't get you any gas. What they had was a lot of gas they would fill into containers, but you had to buy it in either 2 or 5 gallon increments.
  3. Sparrowhawk

    Sparrowhawk Long timer

    Sep 26, 2005
    Eastern Washington, USA
    Good to know. Granite might be iffy though. I called The Outback in early July and the woman said the nearest gas was in Sumpter.
  4. mrmagoolin

    mrmagoolin Been here awhile

    Oct 28, 2008
    God's Country
    Starkey is another option for gas and some food.
  5. BurntRiver

    BurntRiver n00b

    Nov 8, 2012
    Burnt River Market Motel and RV Park in Unity is a great layover spot. You can either get a motel room or pitch a tent out back and get hot food to order at the market. There are shower rooms if you are sleeping in a tent or just looking to freshen up a bit. They also have NON Ethanol fuel, cold drinks, liquor and groceries.