Many of you probably already know that I have a friend who sells cheap Oregon land with no credit checks, low down payments, and low monthly payments. Much of the land that he sells is actually on Bly Mountain.
Consequently, I often get asked what it’s actually like to live on Bly Mountain so in this article I’ll be taking a few minutes to tell you about our experiences.
As many of you know, our family went straight from the suburbs of Utah to living on Bly Mountain. We lived up there for about eight or so years and during those years we learned a lot that might be helpful to people who are considering moving there.
Before I begin, let me clear up a bit of common confusion. Bly Mountain isn’t actually in the town of Bly. As a matter of fact, the mountain is about 25 miles west of Bly.
Bly is a small town with a population of less than 500 residents. There is a very small town called Beatty between Bly and Bly Mountain so I’m not really sure how the mountain got it’s name.
Our First Impression When We Moved There
When we rolled up with our moving truck, to tell you the truth, we were expecting everyone on the mountain to be as excited to see us as we were to be there. Well, that’s not exactly what happened.
People weren’t mean to us or rude but they were kind of quiet and standoffish. At first we were a little disappointed that people weren’t more welcoming to us. Later we realized why and we came to appreciate their point of view.
During our years of living there, we met many nice and friendly people but some of them took a little while to warm up to us. People living on the mountain tend to move up there for peace and quite. Not many of them are into having monthly neighborhood parties or BBQ’s. Some are but most just want to be left alone to live in a beautiful and peaceful environment without being bothered.
A Little About the Area
Bly Mountain is located in south central Oregon. As a matter of fact, Bly Mountain Pass is only about 25 miles as the crow flies from the Northern California Border.
Properties on the mountain are all at slightly different elevations but Bly Mountain Pass on Highway 140 is 5,087 feet in elevation. Our home was just a tad over 5,200 feet in elevation.
Some nearby small towns are Beatty, Bonanza, and Dairy. Other small towns that are a little farther are Bly, Sprague River, and Chiloquin.
Klamath Falls is the largest town that is near Bly Mountain.
How Many People Live in the Area
The 2013 census reports that there were 65,913 people living in Klamath County at the time. 21,207 of the Klamath County residents were living in the city limits of Klamath Falls and only 405 were living within the city limits of Bonanza. I’m not sure how many people actually live on Bly Mountain but I would estimate it to be around 50 or so.
The Four Units of Bly Mountain
While the term “Bly Mountain” is the name of the mountain, it is actually divided into four “units”. Units 1 and 4 are the highest in elevation. Some units have a road association that you pay a yearly fee to that goes towards road maintenance and snow removal. We lived in Unit 4 and our annual road association dues were around $35 a year.
Access and Road Conditions
Highway 140 East which is also called “Klamath Falls-Lakeview Highway” on the map is paved. They actually just finished a major overhaul of the road. However, the properties that people tend to live on usually have gravel road access. Some properties have very rough dirt roads that require a 4×4 to access. These remote lots with unimproved dirt roads aren’t really accessible during the winter.
A Look into the Weather on Bly Mountain
You might think of Oregon as a rainy state but on Bly Mountain, you should plan on getting snow. Some years, A LOT OF SNOW!
The nearest small town is Bonanza which is about ten to fifteen minutes away still gets snow but they get considerably less of it. Klamath Falls, is about 35 miles from the mountain and they get even less than Bonanza but they still do get snow.
It’s not uncommon for the snow to start falling around mid to late October and still be on the ground in April or sometimes even May.
Some people are put off by the long winters but for the locals who are tough enough to endure the winters, the long winters are appreciated because it’s one of the things that keeps things peaceful up there. Not everyone is tough enough to live up there year round and that’s the way the locals like it. I know that we sure did.
Because the snow sticks around into the months that Bonanza and Klamath are experiencing May flowers, spring tends to be one of the shortest seasons on Bly Mountain. I would say that May and June are typically considered “spring” up there. This is when there is an abundance of wild flowers and everything is fresh and green. It’s really quite a sight to behold!
Around late June to July is when things start heating up. Summer typically runs from July through September. These are going to be the hottest months up on the mountain.
If you’re considering moving to the mountain, it’s important to understand how crucial it is to be fire safe. Fire season, meaning the time that it’s illegal to have outdoor camp or yard debris fires, usually starts around the middle to the end of May and usually stays in effect until the middle or end of October. There isn’t an official start and end date for fire season since each year’s weather patterns are a little different.
Fire safety is extremely important to people living on Bly Mountain. After all, the people living there choose to live there because it’s a beautiful forested area and they want it to stay that way.
One of the nice things about life on Bly Mountain during the summer is that temperatures are often cooler during the heat of the day than in town. During the evening, things cool down to a very pleasant temperature. It’s actually a pretty significant temperature drop at night.
Autumn on the mountain is also a short season. Sometimes it starts in mid-September and if you’re lucky, winter will hold off until the end of October. This is a very beautiful time of year on Bly Mountain with the leaves changing colors and the temperatures being very comfortable.
Recreational Opportunities on Bly Mountain
If you enjoy outdoor recreation, you LOVE living on Bly Mountain! Much of the mountain has easy access to either BLM or Forest Service land. This means that there are endless opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, ATV riding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, hunting, and even bird watching.
There’s also lots of wildlife on the mountain. There is even a small band of wild horses living up there that we enjoyed watching from time to time. We think it’s important to remember that you’re living in their yard. They were there long before you and they’ll be there long after you leave.
If you enjoy fishing, there are many lakes and rivers in the area but none on Bly Mountain. It’s a very short drive to the Sprague River, the Sycan River, and the Williamson River. There are also great fishing opportunities at many nearby lakes. If you enjoy sailing, Klamath Lake is AMAZING! Our family owns a Hobie Catamaran and has a blast sailing it on the lake!
Employment Opportunities for People Living on Bly Mountain
While there are a few jobs in the Bonanza area most people commute to Klamath Falls for work. In the summer, it usually takes about 35-40 minutes to drive to Klamath Falls. In the winter, it can take as a long as an hour if Highway 140 hasn’t been plowed yet or the roads are icy and slippery. Most residents of the mountain adjust to this just fine and consider it a minor inconvenience considering the fact that they are lucky enough to be able to live in such a beautiful location.
The Big Question – What about Water?
There are three ways to get water on the mountain. If you’re just camping on your property, you’ll bring it with you. If you’re a full-time or even a part-time resident, you’ll either have to have a well drilled or haul it to your property in a water tank that is either in a trailer or in the bed of your pickup.
When we lived up there, we hauled our water using a 425 gallon plastic tank that was on a trailer. When we arrived at our house, we pumped the water from our transfer tank to our larger 1,200 gallon cistern.
People who haul their water will need to find someone who is willing to let them fill their transfer tank from their house. Some fill their transfer tanks in town and some have made friends with other people on the mountain who have wells.
In Unit 1, there is a community well that residents who have improved properties can use to fill their water transfer tanks. I’m not familiar with the specific rules related to this but I believe you must have a home or cabin on your property and an address assigned from the county.
If you decide to have a well drilled, the cost can vary dramatically from lot to lot. I know of at least one person in Unit 4 who hit water around 100 feet but I’ve heard of others who’s wells are 500 or more feet deep. I think a few are even around 1,000 feet deep!
For more information about water on Bly Mountain, please read my article called, Water on Bly Mountain – What You Need to Know.
What About Power and Phone?
Some properties have power and phone but most don’t. Ours had phone service but because the properties are rural, our DSL Internet speed was only about 1.5 Mbps. That’s better than dial-up but it’s still pretty slow in this day and age.
Cell phones work in some areas of the mountain but not at all in other areas. For example, on our property, there were certain places that we had to stand if we wanted to make a phone call with our cell phones.
When we lived there we used a generator and a bank of deep cycle batteries for our electricity needs. This is very popular with those who live off-grid on the mountain. Because there are a lot of trees in many areas on the mountain, solar or wind isn’t always a viable option for power.
If you would like to read about our experience using generators as our only source of electricity, you can read my article called, How To Choose a Generator That Will Be Perfect For Your Needs
TV Options on Bly Mountain
We had Dish Network while we lived there and we were very happy with it. I don’t know if Direct TV will work up there or not. I do know that Dish did work at our house but the installer had to hunt a bit to find a good spot to put the dish where the trees on our property wouldn’t block the satellite signal.
Tips for Getting Along with Your Neighbors
If you want to live on the mountain, there are a few simple rules that you should know about that will help to avoid conflict with your neighbors.
- Mind your own business. – A vast majority of the people living on the mountain move up there because they just want to be left alone. They don’t want meddling neighbors sticking their noses into their business. If you follow this simple rule, you’ll avoid most conflict with the people living on the mountain. I’m not saying that you can’t make friends on the mountain. We do have friends there but you should probably go slowly and you’ll get an idea about who enjoys being social and who doesn’t.
- Respect gates. – If someone has a gate and it’s closed, stay out, PERIOD. There’s a reason the gate is closed. Unless you have specifically been given permission to open the gate when you arrive, don’t.
- Drive slowly. – Since the roads on the mountain are either gravel or dirt, you really need to drive slowly on them. If you go flying by someone’s house, you’re going to blow up a lot of dust and you won’t make any friends in the process. Driving faster than 10 – 15 MPH on these roads will cause them to develop little ripples in them called “washboards”. The most heavily traveled gravel roads are occasionally graded to smooth out these bumps but driving too fast on them will lead to excessive washboards and it will rattle your teeth out driving on them.
- Keep your dogs in your yard. – Many people who live on Bly Mountain let their dogs have free run of their property but some give them a little too much freedom and their dogs roam onto other people’s property. Be respectful and keep your dog on your own property if you want things to remain civil with your neighbors.
- Respect property boundaries! – This is very important. Because the whole mountain feels like you’re in one big wilderness area, newcomers often end up going for a leisurely hike and end up walking right through other people’s property. Let me refer you to rule number 1 when I say that people don’t appreciate you walking uninvited through their property. If you move to the mountain you’ll appreciate people who follow this rule. If you want to go hiking, get yourself a map and learn where the BLM and Forest Service land is located. There’s plenty of it for everyone to enjoy so there’s no need to go on a hike through someone’s garden.
- Be respectful if you ride ATV’s. – If you ride ATV’s on the mountain, follow rule number 2 and drive slowly. People who live on the mountain get very upset at the people who go flying down their roads on quads or dirt bikes. There are so many roads on public land that are accessible to those living on Bly Mountain that there’s no need for speed when you’re riding on the gravel or dirt roads in one of the units.
- Abide by fire regulations! – It’s not uncommon for people to burn pine needles or tree limbs when fire season is in effect. Many people also enjoy sitting around a campfire during the spring and fall but it’s important to only do these things when it’s not fire season. Even when you’re allowed to burn, it’s EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to be responsible! Make sure that your fire has a well defined fire break so it’s not near any combustable debris. Make sure that you’re fire is ALWAYS monitored by a responsible adult. Lastly, make sure that your fire is out cold when you leave it. I’m sure you wouldn’t want someone burning down your home or cabin so the simple rules are to follow the law and be responsible when you burn.
- Follow camping regulations. – You’re now allowed to camp on the land that you own on this mountain. With that said, you’re NOT ALLOWED to do like the bears do and poop in the woods. If you buy property on the mountain that you plan on camping on, you’ll need to bring a portable toilet with you or do your business in a camper or RV.
Be Sure to Check Back Often For Updates to This Article
As of the time that this article was written, I can’t really think of anything else to say about living on Bly Mountain. I’m sure that as time passes, I’ll think of something and when I do, I’ll pop back into this article and update it.
In the meantime, if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comment section below and I’ll do my best to answer them.
Buying Land on Bly Mountain
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I have a good friend who has been selling owner financed land on Bly Mountain and in the surrounding area since the mid 1980’s.
If you buy a lot and tell him that you heard about him from the website Booney Living, you’ll get a $200 discount.
For anyone who would like to learn more about how affordable and easy it is to buy land from him, click here.