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Devils Staircase Wilderness

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A short layered waterfall
Library image #4458: Devils Staircase waterfall


The United States Congress designated the Devils Staircase Wilderness (map) in 2019 and it now has a total of 31,107 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Oregon and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service.


East of Reedsport, Oregon, the Devils Staircase Wilderness comprises some of the last remaining old-growth forest in the Oregon Coast Range. This remote and inaccessible place truly meets the definition of wild – there are no trails here or designated access points. Instead, it is reserved as an important refuge for wildlife, including the federally threatened northern spotted owl and marbled murrelet which can find prime habitat here and few other places in Oregon.

Highly unstable soil and steep slopes here have prevented the area from being logged; in the 1970s the Forest Service determined much of the area was unsuitable for timber production. Today, this remnant Coast Range old-growth forest contains large Douglas-fir, cedar, and hemlock trees. Through the center of the wilderness flows Wassen Creek, which was designated as a Wild and Scenic River at the same time the wilderness was designated by Congress. The creek provides important habitat for native coho and chinook salmon, trout, and steelhead. The wilderness’s namesake, Devils Staircase, is a low cascading waterfall, where the stream tumbles over sandstone outcroppings whose beauty belies its more ominous-sounding name. Franklin Creek, another Wild and Scenic River, also flows through the wilderness on its way to the Umpqua River.

This is a pristine place, where the wildlife making their home here are rarely disturbed by human visitation. Those who do attempt to penetrate this wilderness will find challenging conditions and extremely difficult navigation (don’t depend on GPS). This wilderness is not for the faint of heart.

Planning to Visit the Devils Staircase Wilderness?

Leave No Trace

How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Devils Staircase Wilderness.
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace, Visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website.

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