Steens Mountains/East Rim Overlook

Quick Facts

Steens Mountains/East Rim Overlook

Oregon

(541) 573-4433

Map Directions

Things To Do

   

Overview

The Steens Mountain area offers an extraordinary landscape of volcanic uplifts, deep glacier-carved gorges, stunning scenery, wilderness, wild rivers, and a rich diversity of plant and animal species. Rising 9,700 feet above sea level, Steens Mountain is the highest peak in the northern Great Basin desert. The East Rim Overlook provides a stunning view of this rugged country. The 66-mile Steens Mountain Loop Road offers visitors a chance to see bighorn sheep, as well as prairie falcons, American Kestrels, and other birds of prey.

Map of Steens Mountains/East Rim Overlook

Latitude, Longitude: 42.683445, -118.551407

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Activities

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    East Steens Road (Fields, Oregon to Burns, Oregon via Highway 78). This 127 mile tour skirts along the eastern escarpment of Steens Mountain and the vast expanses of the Alvord Desert, providing a scenic study in dramatic contrasts. Like many great plays, the drama of the East Steens Tour Route builds slowly toward a stunning conclusion. Heading south out of Burns on Highway 78, you'll pass the first of several hot springs just north of the town of Crane. Near milepost 65, the Tour Route detours off Highway 78 onto East Steens Road; it's a gravel surface, but quite passable for regular passenger vehicles. After passing the sagebrush-covered Sheepshead Mountains to the east, you come to a series of small lakes - Five Cent, Ten Cent, Fifteen Cent, and Juniper Lakes (the lakes can be dry depending on the year) -- that attract a variety of animal life. While Steens Mountain looms to the west, the shimmering salt flats of the Alvord Desert unfold to the east. The Alvord Desert playa which can be either wet or dry depending on the time of year, is one of the largest playas in Oregon--six miles wide and 11 miles long. The Tour Route ends in the small community of Fields; rumor has it that the café in Fields serves some of the best hamburgers and milkshakes in southeastern Oregon.

  • Hiking

    A popular hike is Mud and Ankle Creek (on Steens Mountain). If open country and solitude are what you desire, this is the hike for you. To access this trail, which is actually an old jeep road, turn to the east on the road directly across from the Riddle Brothers Ranch Road (1/8 mile southwest of South Steens campground). Follow this road 1 mile to the parking area (4 wheel drive recommended). Park your vehicle and hike east where you will soon encounter a gate. Beyond the gate, the trail begins. You will encounter many stream crossings along the route which will be difficult, if not impassable in spring and early summer. Use caution! Many old spur roads branch off from the main route allowing exploration of the Ankle Creek Basin, the upper Donner und Blitzen Wild and Scenic River, and the rim of Wildhorse Canyon for the really adventurous. Aspen groves, dense juniper stands, and an abundance of wildlife and are around every corner. Length: 7 miles to the Ankle Creek crossing; Trail Rating: Moderate with an elevation gain of anywhere from 100' to 2500'; Best Time to Hike: May - October.

    Another popular hike is Pike Creek (east Steens Mountain area). If snow and rain prevent you from getting up to the Steens, head east to the back side of the mountain where access is year-round. Approximately 1.5 miles north of Alvord Hot Springs, head west towards the mountain on a dirt road for one mile and look for the juniper tree growing out of a rock. Park here and close by you'll notice where the trail begins.

Seasonality/Weather

Open year round. Opportunities for recreation on Steens Mountain are as plentiful as they are widespread. Winter recreation on the Steens gives visitors a chance to experience this rugged country on skis, snow shoes, or snowmobiles.

Directions

Driving

From Burns, take State Highway 78 southeast for approximately 2 miles. Then turn right onto State Highway 205 and travel south for 60 miles to Frenchglen. Just past Frenchglen, turn left onto the Steens Mountain Loop Road.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(541) 573-4433

Links