Willow Springs Preserve

A 129 acre Preserve along Whychus Creek outside of Sisters, Oregon.
  • Guided tours only.
  • No established trails.
  • Willow-lined Whychus Creek, cottonwood and aspen stands, creekside meadows.
  • Rimrock cliffs, brillant fall colors, and Whychus Creek.


The Land Trust acquired and protected the 129 acre Willow Springs Preserve in 2017. The Preserve includes one mile of Whychus Creek, creekside meadows, aspen and cottonwood stands, and rimrock cliffs. The Preserve is located outside of Sisters, Oregon (see map below) and is home to a host of wildlife species including salmon and steelhead, mule deer, rocky mountain elk, raptors, and numerous songbirds.

The Willow Springs Preserve restoration starts in 2022. Learn more
about the restoration.



  • What to See

    One mile of Whychus Creek flows through Willow Springs Preserve. Photo: Kris Kristovich.
    One mile of Whychus Creek flows through Willow Springs Preserve. Photo: Kris Kristovich.
    Willow Springs Preserve can only be visited on guided Land Trust tours or via hosted educational offerings. When visiting:

    • Learn about Whychus Creek: One mile of Whychus Creek flows through the meadows of the Preserve. Whychus Creek provides important habitat for salmon and steelhead, songbirds, and other wildlife that forage and take cover in its streamside willows.
    • Watch for wildlife: With songbirds nesting along the creek and raptors soaring above, bird watching is always interesting. Willow Springs is also home to a host of other species from bobcat and beaver to deer and elk.
    • Enjoy fall colors: The Preserve has cottonwood and aspen stands that turn a  brilliant yellow each fall. 

    Take our virtual tour or read below to learn more about the property.

  • Conservation Values

    Whychus Creek at Willow Springs Preserve. Photo: Kris Kristovich.
    Whychus Creek at Willow Springs Preserve. Photo: Kris Kristovich.
    Willow Springs Preserve protects one mile of Whychus Creek with high quality habitat for salmon, steelhead, and other wildlife. The Preserve is a rare wet meadow in an arid landscape that offers exceptional biological diversity relative to surrounding lands. Habitat types include creekside vegetation, juniper and pine woodlands, and cottonwood and aspen stands that are home to a host of wildlife species.

    Willow Springs Preserve also offers an influx of cold water from the nearby McKinney Butte Springs which significantly decrease the water temperature in this stretch of Whychus Creek. Finally, the Preserve also provides habitat connectivity between Land Trust protected lands downstream and national forest lands upstream of Sisters. The Land Trust manages the Preserve to protect these characteristics.

  • Restoration Activities

    Waging war on the weeds at Willow Springs Preserve. Photo: Land Trust.
    Waging war on the weeds at Willow Springs Preserve. Photo: Land Trust.
    The Land Trust manages Willow Springs Preserve to protect and, where necessary, restore fish and wildlife habitat. Since acquiring the Preserve in 2017, the Land Trust has started a variety of restoration projects including:

    • Stream restoration. The Land Trust is working with our restoration partners to restore the section of Whychus Creek that runs through the Preserve. In 2019 we tested out a beaver-inspired restoration technique at nearby Camp Polk Meadow Preserve. In 2022, we are planning to restore Willow Springs Preserve using those beaver-inspired techniques. Learn more in our Willow Springs Preserve Restoration overview.
    • Managing weeds. Noxious weeds are a reality at all Land Trust protected lands. If they are not actively managed they compromise healthy native plant communities.
  • Know Before You Go

    Willow Springs Preserve can only be visited on guided Land Trust tours or via hosted educational offerings. When visiting, please note that Willow Springs Preserve is a rustic nature preserve. There are no established facilities such as trails, toilets, trash removal, or parking. 


    Preserve guidelines

    Willow Springs Preserve can only be visited on guided tours or via other authorized use. All use is conditional upon following these and any other posted rules:

    • Pedestrian travel only; no bike, horse, or motorized vehicle use.
    • Respect restrictions as posted.
    • Removal or disturbance of plants, wildlife, and historical artifacts is prohibited.
    • Dogs are not allowed.
    • No hunting, camping, campfires, smoking, or unmanned aircraft use.
    • Commercial use, private events, and unauthorized public use are prohibited.


    Please note: Willow Springs Preserve is private property owned by Deschutes Land Trust. Your use of the property is conditional upon these and any other posted rules. Preserve users failing to observe posted rules are trespassing and subject to applicable laws and penalties. Visitors to the Preserve may encounter risks associated with terrain, wildlife, and weather. Please exercise appropriate caution: the Deschutes Land Trust is not liable for injuries to Preserve visitors.

  • Maps

    The map below shows the location of Willow Springs Preserve. Willow Springs Preserve can only be visited on guided Land Trust tours or via hosted educational offerings.

  • Cultural History


    From time immemorial, Native Americans, including the Warm Springs, Wasco, and Paiute tribes, lived in this region or visited it to hunt, fish, gather foods, and trade. Willow Springs Preserve is within the lands ceded to the United States in the Treaty with the Tribes of Middle Oregon in 1855. The bands that signed the 1855 Treaty moved onto to the Warm Springs Reservation and are known as the Wasco and Warm Springs tribes. Paiute people began settling on the Warm Springs Reservation in 1879 and, along with the Wasco and Warm Springs tribes, now comprise the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon. The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, by virtue of the Treaty of 1855, have legal rights to harvest and manage wildlife and, by implication, the right to habitats suitable to support wildlife populations. The Land Trust considers the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs an important partner in management and restoration of the property.

    The first Euro-Americans began to arrive in Central Oregon in the 1800s as trappers, explorers, and survey crews began mapping the region. In 1843 westward migration began along the Oregon Trail as the federal government forcibly re-settled Native Americans and offered western lands to Euro-Americans. In 1865, the Santiam Wagon Road was completed, connecting the Willamette Valley to Central Oregon and bringing even more settlement to the region. A key settlement in the vicinity of Willow Springs Preserve was Hindman Station at nearby Camp Polk Meadow. Hindman Station was a stopping place for travelers on the Santiam Wagon between 1868-1885.

    The Deschutes Land Trust established Willow Springs Preserve in 2017 with support from the Campaign for Whychus Creek.