Autumn in the Steens and Alvord Desert

Untitled photo

Take this opportunity to see the remote Southeastern part of Oregon and the Steens Mountain and the Alvord Desert. 


The Steens Mountain can be seen from hundreds of miles away, slowly rising on the flat horizon of southeastern Oregon.  See  two massive, U-shaped gorges (Blitzen and Big Indian), both carved out in the last ice age and reminiscent of extreme Icelandic landscapes. Be treated to endless views  above the cracked white earth of the Alvord Desert 5000' below. By early October the canyons will be filled with golden aspen trees that will make for gorgeous landscapes. 

Pete French built a cattle empire on the west side of Steens Mountain from 1872 to 1897. By 1901, Basque and Irish shepherds were grazing more than 140,000 head of sheep on Steens Mountain, obliterating once-lush grasslands. Congress protected much of this 50-mile-long mountain with the 174,573-acre Steens Mountain Wilderness in 2000. 

We will drive the highest road in Oregon (9700') to viewpoints of canyons and the Alvord desert below. 

The Alvord Desert is a 12-by-7-mile dry lake bed which is drivable during the dry season. The Alvord sits in a rain shadow and is bordered by the Steens Mountains and Pueblo Mountains. It is unlike the playas one might see in the California Deserts resembling a crumpled piece of paper.  

We will also see French Pete Round Barn, Diamond Crater, Malhuer and possibly Kiger Mustangs if they are in the area. The Kiger Mustang is a strain of mustang horses located in the southeastern part of Oregon.

Note that the Alvord and Steens are remote.

The Fields-Denio Road, the main road along the East flank of Steens mountain and the access to the Alvord Desert, is largely unpaved. One may also reach the Alvord from the southwest on highway 205 and Fields OR.

We will stay at the Frenchglen Hotel which is near Steens Mountain and the  Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.


The Frenchglen Hotel is rustic but clean. I have three rooms in the hotel that share two baths. Those go for $85 a night.  I also have five in the Drover's Inn which is right behind the hotel.  Those have a private bath and run between $125 and $150 per night. They have a queen bed.

I will hold your room on a first come basis.  You will pay for the room upon departure. 

History of the Frenchglen Hotel Here

There are very few establishments in the area. the hotel serves 3 prepared meals a day and will pack a lunch.  The only other restaurant in the area is the Narrows RV Park which is 30 miles from Frenchglen.  There is a store, gas and small cafe in Fields Station which serves the best milkshakes in Oregon. It is 51 miles from Frenchglen. 


Frenchglen Oregon is remote even for Oregonians. If you fly and rent try Boise at  230miles away. Bend/Redmond Oregon is 190 miles. Reno 335 miles. Burns Oregon is 60 miles but there isn't an airport. I will be driving from Los Angeles at a cool 750 miles. Map it here 


Powered by SmugMug Owner Log In