The Steens: The mountains that too few know about

Pretty incredible.

These words describe our time in southeastern Oregon this past week, desertous and dry. The sky is shining blue. The beauty of this area is astounding. If you haven’t visited, I highly recommend a trip of at least a week. There’s plenty to do and not too many people out here to bother you. However after 3 days, the dryness started to get to me, I mean, how many times can you reapply chapstick and face cream, I mean really???

The Steens Mountain Range. Our first real “wild camping” happened at the top of Steens Mountain, literally the top. It was windy, dusty, expansive, and cold at night. But don’t worry Mamuś, Lola kept us very warm!

We drove in through Frenchglen and watched as the landscaped changed from dry sage brush and juniper trees, to Aspen groves, then to tall hills and cavernous valleys sprinkled with remnant tufts of grass. We arrived at Steens Mountain top around 5pm and took bets on how many more late visitors there would be to the peak. About 5 more cars arrived, 3 of them spent the night with us on the peak, or near it.  IMG_7006

We spent the night at a view point which is just a short walk from the true top.  There we met Wynn, a fellow northwestener who was on a month long road trip living out of his Subaru. A really neat guy, with a lot of knowledge of the area, thank you for the pointers Wynn!
We cooked a wonderful dinner of pork chops and a succotash. We also invented a new drink PBR with a healthy dash of Amaro Averna, our very own Beer-Tail. It’s nice, you should try it! We watched a sunset that filled the entire sky and continued to infuse the sky with red as it went down.

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IMG_7018I couldn’t help but think this was a gift from the Sprinter and Vanlife Gods because we had to miss the sunsets in Seattle this summer. But maybe it was a sign from Virgine de Cisne, Archangel Raphael, and Ganesh that they wanted us to be happy and relax, we were safe. We woke up to watch the sunrise in the desert valley above Alvord Lake. After a fried egg and beans breakfast, we “scrambled” to the top-another 200 feet or so to the true peak of Steen Mountain. Solitude and wind. I promise you won’t be disappointed, go.STF_0008 STG_0009 IMG_0011 IMG_0016 IMG_0025IMG_0023 IMG_0026 IMG_0030

Alvord Hot Springs was our next destination. We discovered Lola is not dust proof, after 60 miles on dirt roads the whole van was dusty. This is vanlife! Also, it was a great excuse to put the AC on, less air in = less dust. For $20 we stayed at the Hot Springs and got to go dipping as much as we wanted. Really nice hosts and a great view of the expansive high desert.

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Next destination- Idaho. We hope the forest fires will be kept at bay.

We were in the Steens from August 26th-28th, 2016.  (Not enough time)

8 Replies to “The Steens: The mountains that too few know about”

  1. Absolutely Beautiful!
    I guess it’s also good to learn about the “short comings” of Lola now… like the dust. Mentally this will help but don’t let them keep you from other dusty roads! 😉
    Also I am interested in what Todd comes up with for cocktail hour. I love a good beer-tail! Nice work Todd!

    1. You might be surprised, or not, but currently we have 5 liquors to use for cocktails and Jackson’s cherries! Last night I had an Amaro Manhattan…quite nice 🙂

  2. I’ve been to the Steens area once long ago and loved it. Found an obsidian arrow head while walking along a rocky trail. Left it.

    You guys have a great trip toward Idaho!

    1. Thank You Michael! An arrowhead, very cool! A new addition is probably that the hot springs have been privatized for $20 you can camp and soak as much as you like!

  3. Beautiful scenery and hot springs too!

    Sounds like we need to plan a road trip.

    1. Yes you do! This is a great place, VERY accessible, but lots of dirt roads. There are two historic hotels that you can stay at too.

  4. Looking great

    1. Thanks Marlen! Hard to take a bad picture out there.

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