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Drive the Steens Mountain Loop

Harney County, Oregon

based on 2 reviews


Added by Jameson Jones

With scenic landscape views and some of the darkest skies in all of the lower 48 states, this place is amazing. Solitude at it's finest.

Steens Mountain makes you feel like you are on top of the world. At nearly 10,000ft in elevation and not being well known, the Steens will make you to feel like you’re in a truly remote place. It offers a great view of the sunset and if you stay at night will offer the one best stargazing in all of the U.S. as Steens Mountain claims the darkest skies in all of the lower 48 states. It takes about 2hrs. to travel the 50 miles out and back with ~5000ft. of elevation gain.

Starting at the Historic Frenchglen Hotel make your way to Steens Mountain Loop and then onto Fishlake/Steens Mountain Rd. From there you will continue for about 22 miles to find yourself at Kiger Gorge Lookout. Most of the road to the mountain is graveled but well maintained. From Kiger Gorge, continue for 3 more miles to East Rim Overlook where you overlook the Alvord Desert from the highest point of the mountain. Follow along the loop to get back to your starting point. 

Make sure you bring warm clothes because it gets cold on the mountain even when the valley below is scorching hot.

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Drive the Steens Mountain Loop Reviews

This whole part of Southeast Oregon is like finding a secret very few know about. I was first introduced to SE Oregon through the Giant Loop Motorcycle Tour. It is an amazingly wonderful, but seldom visited part of Oregon. The Steens Mountain Loop is spectacular, but it can be blocked by snow late into the season as was my experience in June 2022. That being said, the trip up to snow line was breathtaking and beautiful! Make sure to visit the little community of French Glen and go into the store. It is truly a step back into time. Imagine my surprise having just returned from Moab, Utah and finding the most beautiful tourquoise bracelet in little tiny, French Glen! And it fit! Was not expecting that!

My dad and I drove this loop earlier this summer and I was shocked that Steens isn't considered one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon. There’s a bunch of camping, backpacking, and opportunities to hike into the gorges of the landscape here. We spent well over 3 hours completing the entire drive. I highly recommend one extra stop on this loop, at the Steens Summit/Wildhorse Lake parking lot. Ambitious hikers can head down 1,100 ft. to the beautiful Wildhorse Lake, but everyone else should definitely make the half-mile trip up to the 9,733 ft. summit of Steens Mountain. The summit itself is adorned with cell towers where you’ll find your only reception out here - but the views are spectacular.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


Hike to Wildhorse Lake

Take in the View from Steens Mountain Summit

Camp at Mann Lake

Hike Pike Creek Trail in the Steens Mountains

Soak in Alvord Hot Springs

Camp on the Alvord Desert