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Round Mountain, Central OR | July 2015

AK5SD's picture
Voice Cellular Coverage: 
Decent, workable
Data Cellular Coverage: 
Decent, workable
Cellular Provider: 
APRS Coverage: 
Don't know

Round Mountain near La Pine, Oregon is a straightforward and interesting activation in the summer. There is a fire lookout tower on the summit and the 360 degree views are magnificent.

The main access is from the north via forest road NF-4256. Whether you have a regular car, a high clearance 2WD, or a 4x4 will determine how close you can get to the summit by vehicle. My opinions are based on the road conditions when I was there in the summer of 2015. Conditions may change from year to year. If you are in a car, you probably want to park at the intersection of Shukash Butte Rd. and NF-4256. If you are in a high clearance vehicle of any kind, then proceed another 1.1 miles on NF-4256 to the gate. This is what I did. When I was there, the gate was unlocked and partially left open. I suspected, correctly, that the fire tower at the top was currently staffed and the ranger simply decided not to lock the gate behind him. Regardless, I decided to park here because the road ahead looked rugged for my 2WD SUV and I didn't want to risk getting to the summit and having to leave because the ranger was leaving (and would lock the gate). As I hiked up the road, I was confortable with my decision. I would only recommend going beyond the gate in a 4x4. For reference, the ranger rode a dual sport motorcycle to the summit, although I did see a pickup truck attempting to go all the way as I was leaving. The distance from the gate to the summit is 1.4 miles with an elevation change of appoximately 700 feet.

The ranger who was manning the tower was very friendly and invited me up for a tour. His name was Joe, and if you decide to activate this summit during fire season feel free to bring him a cold beer. Anyway, he showed me around the tower, even inviting me inside. Due to my limited time on the summit I had to cut the tour short so I told him my true motivation for being there. He was quite interested in my pursuit and offered to let me set up my gear right there on the tower. Cool! I connected a speaker instead of my usual headphones and he sat there and watched me operate. He said that he's seen geocachers up there before but obviously this was his first time seeing a ham. It was a very enjoyable visit and I regretted not having more time to spend with him. He offered me a gatorade on the way out when I told him my wife accidentally took my water bottle when I dropped her off at the beach.

Cell service was best on the east side of the mountain.

All in all, except for being time constrained, it was an enjoyable activation.