How Far Can You Go?

Have you ever opened a map of Oregon, looked at the far corners of the borders, and wondered what was there?  Sure, these are merely lines on a map, but what is actually out there?  This curiosity inspired and resulted in a truly unique excursion that I will forever remember.

The goal:  Reach the very southeastern corner of Oregon.

The launching point for this trek is McDermitt, a small town on US Highway 95 that sits on both sides of the Oregon-Nevada border.

McDermitt is a sleepy little town that functions primarily as a rest and fuel stop between Burns, Oregon and Winnemucca, Nevada.  Being partially in Nevada, there are casinos, which comes as no real surprise.

This is the Say When Casino in 2009. It has since been remodeled.

The most noteworthy building in McDermitt is the historic Whitehorse Inn, a former hotel, restaurant, saloon, and while not openly advertised, brothel.  As the legend goes, the Whitehorse Inn sits partially in Oregon and partially in Nevada.  Food was served on the Oregon side of the building to avoid the Nevada sales tax, while gambling occurred on the Nevada side, where it was legal.

For more Whitehorse Inn photos, go here and here.

McDermitt has hotels as well as RV parks with electric and water hook-ups.  Tent campers are also welcome.  However, please understand that if you are looking for 5-star accommodations, McDermitt is not your place.  Everything in this town falls under the “good enough” classification and will get you by.  We had no issues and enjoyed the stay.


At this point, some cautions should be stated:

— Do NOT attempt this trek with a passenger car or even a Subaru Outback.  Higher ground clearance, taller visibility, 4-wheel drive, and thicker-ply tires will be needed.

— Let someone know your itinerary and when you intend on returning.  It is extremely remote country out there.

— Go prepared with enough food, water, sunscreen, and camping gear as if you were staying out there for a few days.  Again, Three Corners is a very remote place with no nearby shade, food, or water resources.  For peace of mind, go prepared.

— It is about 43 miles one-way between McDermitt and Three Corners.  It will be slow-going due to the off-road travel.  This will be an all-day trip to go there and return.

— Do your own thorough research of maps, road conditions, etc. before going.  This post is NOT intended to be a viable substitute for your own research, preparation, and common sense.


On with the adventure!

Ironically, the best way to reach the southeastern corner of Oregon (a.k.a. Three Corners) is to travel in northern Nevada.  About four miles south of the state line on US Highway 95 is North Road (map).  It will take you east through the Fort McDermitt Reservation and get you to National Forest Road 083 (map).  It may also be labelled as National Forest Road 50083 (the 50 at the beginning indicates a vehicle travel road).  This road will take you through the northern edge of the Santa Rosa Mountains along the East Fork of the Quinn River.

Once you have circumvented the Santa Rosa Mountains, the route then departs National Forest Road 083 (map), veers east away from the East Fork Quinn River, and heads off across the sage.  After five miles, you will come upon this sign (map).  25 miles down, 18 miles to go.

Continuing on, about one mile east of here, a road will branch off to the right (map).  At this point, it will be a long, meandering journey across the sage prairie.  We occasionally saw some wild mustangs during this leg of the trek.

After 15 miles or so, you will come upon this fence and gate (map).  The fence is effectively the state line.  Please be a good neighbor and close the gate behind you after passing through.  Getting really close now !

After passing through the gate, follow the track east along the fence line for about 1.25 miles.  You will see this triangular obelisk marking the common point of Oregon, Idaho, and Nevada.  Congratulations, you made it!

The obelisk has an “N” on the side facing Nevada, an “I” on the side facing Idaho, and you guessed it, an “O” on the side facing Oregon.  The 42L marking stands for 42 degrees north latitude, which is used for the entirety of Oregon’s southern border.

It was an absolutely beautiful day for our trek.  We relaxed here, had a picnic lunch, and enjoyed the vastness and solitude before returning back to McDermitt.

Happy trekkers enjoying the openness and view of the Santa Rosa Mountains from Three Corners.

I absolutely loved this adventure.  To this day, it is one of the most unique trips I have done in Oregon.  One of these days, I may have to return!


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2 thoughts on “How Far Can You Go?

  1. Hey! Great pictures, great posts! You’re inspiring my latent adventurer! I appreciate the details. Keep up the posts!

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