From downtown Bend, take the Cascade Lakes Hwy 44 miles to the Jct. of Hwy 46 and F.S. Road 40. Cow Camp: There is a marked turnoff from F.S. Road 40 between the Cascade Lakes Hwy and the Deschutes River bridge onto F.S. Road 970. Along this (sometimes wash-boarded) road keep a lookout for Ruffed Grouse. At the T-junction, turn left and proceed until you cross over the creek (actually the Deschutes River). Find a place to park along the road.
Crane Prairie Lodge: On F.S. Road 4270, between F.S. Roads 40 & 42, turn into the entrance to the lodge (well signed). In the Fall, when the lodge is closed, park by the gate and walk in.Directions
Habitat and Birds
Lake and high elevation forest. Cow Camp is an excellent access point where you can view the lake for ducks, shorebirds and Osprey. The wet grasslands hold breeding Sandhill Cranes. The surrounding forest has Pacific Wrens, Gray Jays and Ruffed Grouse.
A walk around the Cow Camp campground can produce Gray Jays, all 3 sapsuckers, nuthatches, Brown Creeper, both kinglets, and Mountain Chickadee. Search the creek from the bridge to the boat launch for American Dipper. There is a trail from the boat launch which follows the creek out to Crane Prairie. This trail can be inaccessible in early spring because of high water. During spring and early summer waterproof footwear is recommended. At all times be attentive to the potholes dug by the beavers on the first part of the trail. The willows along the creek can contain warblers, flycatchers, and sparrows during migration. Highlights in this area have been Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Willow Flycatcher, and Black-crowned Night-heron. Near the mouth of the creek are sand banks which can be good for shorebirds in Aug./Sept. The first Harlequin Duck recorded in Deschutes County was seen in this area. Work your way out as far as the soggy ground permits, to scope the lake for ducks, gulls, terns and cormorants. During summer Sandhill Cranes can be heard and seen. Osprey nest along the creek and edges of the lake. Highlights have been Laughing Gull, Franklin’s Gull, and Red-shouldered Hawk.
Crane Prairie Lodge: Look in the trees around the lodge to find kinglets, nuthatches, Brown Creepers, and Mountain Chickadees. From the lawn of the lodge scope the lake for ducks, gulls, terns, grebes, eagles, and loons (in fall). Occasionally, Sandhill Cranes can be seen across the lake from the lodge. Highlights here have been Long-tailed Duck and Red-breasted Merganser.