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Old 07-27-2017, 04:26 PM   #1
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Planning a quick Steens Mountain trip

Hi all. We're looking at a quick (unfortunately) trip to The Steens in September. If we keep putting it off until we have more than an extended weekend, it's just not going to happen.

Planning on leaving Portland on a Thursday, drive most of the way, stay overnite someplace, then roll into Page Springs or the Steens Resort Friday morning. We'll likely have Friday and Saturday to explore the Steens loop and a few other spots, then back on the road Sunday to return. I'd love to go straight through to save time, but I don't do those long hauls well anymore and we'll be pulling our little trailer.

I was through there briefly thirty years ago, but never got to do the Loop, and memory is old enough to have forgotten the details. Looking for input for best routes to/from PDX (a loop would be cool, I hate backtracking). And anything we should especially look for/pay attention to on the Steens loop or elsewhere.

I'm hoping the landscape won't be too barren in September, as far as wildlife is concerned. Would have preferred the Spring migration, but maybe this is a good scouting trip for a future one.

Checked out this thread, very useful. Any others? Thoughts?

http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...uge-15167.html
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Old 07-27-2017, 04:58 PM   #2
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Take Hwy 97 or 20 to Bend, head to Burns turn off on 205 to French Glen. I was there last fall and the loop road was in great share and the camping was great at Fish Lake. Little Blitzen George and Wildhorse Lake are both great places to take a hike.
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Old 07-27-2017, 06:16 PM   #3
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We were there last September. There was several inches of snow on the loop road and more on the road to the top. The aspens were turning yellow.

There is not much opportunity to loop the drive. You could take US26 to Prineville, then south on George Millican Road to US20. Once you re on 20 head to Burns then south on OR205. There is also an unpaved road that goes along the east side of the Steens that connects to OR78 which leads back to Burns.

Pay attention on 205. We came across a cattle drive that was using the road. The cowboys told us to just drive slowly through the cattle. They would move out of our way.

Hope you have a good trip.
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Old 07-27-2017, 08:04 PM   #4
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It may be a bit out of the way, but if you want a loop, take 97 south from Bend to 31, then into Christmas Valley. Check out Hole in the Ground, Fort Rock State Park, and Crack in the Ground. There's a great little BLM campground at Green Mountain, just up the road from Crack in the Ground.

Hole in the Ground



Crack in the Ground



You'd probably have to head back up to Burns to get down to Frenchglen from Christmas Valley.

Love that area. Have fun.

Cheers,
Brent
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Old 07-27-2017, 11:03 PM   #5
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The steens is my favorite place in oregon. I live in portland area and by far the quickest route is i5 to us22 stantiam pass to bend. In bend take us22 to burns. go through burns and take us 205 to frenchglen. If John is still running and cooking frenchglen b&b eat there. its amazing family style cooking. He has large dinners, and will make you a great sack lunch if you need one. I have driven most of the steens mt loop, but have never found the entire loop to be open (always snow or roads out, even in summer).
Things of interest is the round barn (pete french ranch), diamond craters, and anywhere along the loop is very scenic. From the peak you can hike down to wildhorse lake, takes about 45 minutes down, and several hours up (im out of shape so....) If you like hot springs and salt flats, I highly recommend continuing on us205 to fields (get a milk shake and gas, at this point you are in the middle of nowhere). Then head back north to the alvord desert, its on your right along with several hot springs you can soak in along the way. Mickey hot springs is also on a little further but I dont remember turn off. Evenings at mickey hots springs usually involves wild horses hanging out and grazing. From the desert side you can see just how crazy the lift is on the fault block formed steens mts(from the west side its more gradual slope). There are bighorm sheep on the east slopes you can see with binocs. There is a ton of stuff to see there. The alvord desert at night with clear sky and bright moon has a sheen to it from the salt that is like being on another planet
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Old 07-27-2017, 11:16 PM   #6
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there are rattle snakes especially around the little blitzen..so young kids and pets need to keep an eye on. The alvord hot lake is cool to see also, but when I went it was completely un-marked trails and you have to open gates. recommend getting good detailed map of area.. I got directions to a hot springs with petroglyphs at fields, and it was literally count 7 power posts and turn left, then follow gravel road for 3-4 miles and turn right at broken wind mill..
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Old 07-28-2017, 12:01 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bellpilot View Post
Take Hwy 97 or 20 to Bend, head to Burns turn off on 205 to French Glen. I was there last fall and the loop road was in great share and the camping was great at Fish Lake. Little Blitzen George and Wildhorse Lake are both great places to take a hike.

I've wondered about road conditions of the loop. Hoping it's still good. Thanks for the recommendations.


Quote:
Originally Posted by larrie View Post
We were there last September. There was several inches of snow on the loop road and more on the road to the top. The aspens were turning yellow.

There is not much opportunity to loop the drive. You could take US26 to Prineville, then south on George Millican Road to US20. Once you re on 20 head to Burns then south on OR205. There is also an unpaved road that goes along the east side of the Steens that connects to OR78 which leads back to Burns.

Pay attention on 205. We came across a cattle drive that was using the road. The cowboys told us to just drive slowly through the cattle. They would move out of our way.

Hope you have a good trip.
Thanks, Larrie. Gee, snow in September? Well, I guess if you're starting out at 4000 ft and getting up to 9700, there's bound to be some snow. Maybe we'll get lucky and get through. If not, lots of sights to see. I think that 26 to 20 was the route I took out there the last time. We'll try to hit some roads we haven't seen before, maybe on the way back.


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Originally Posted by vwteleman View Post
It may be a bit out of the way, but if you want a loop, take 97 south from Bend to 31, then into Christmas Valley. Check out Hole in the Ground, Fort Rock State Park, and Crack in the Ground. There's a great little BLM campground at Green Mountain, just up the road from Crack in the Ground.

You'd probably have to head back up to Burns to get down to Frenchglen from Christmas Valley.

Love that area. Have fun.

Cheers,
Brent
Thanks, Brent. Great pics! Was out to Fort Rock so many years ago, I almost forgot it was out there. Maybe we'll have time to loop on around that way.



Quote:
Originally Posted by sjappers View Post
The steens is my favorite place in oregon. I live in portland area and by far the quickest route is i5 to us22 stantiam pass to bend. In bend take us22 to burns. go through burns and take us 205 to frenchglen. If John is still running and cooking frenchglen b&b eat there. its amazing family style cooking. He has large dinners, and will make you a great sack lunch if you need one. I have driven most of the steens mt loop, but have never found the entire loop to be open (always snow or roads out, even in summer).
Things of interest is the round barn (pete french ranch), diamond craters, and anywhere along the loop is very scenic. From the peak you can hike down to wildhorse lake, takes about 45 minutes down, and several hours up (im out of shape so....) If you like hot springs and salt flats, I highly recommend continuing on us205 to fields (get a milk shake and gas, at this point you are in the middle of nowhere). Then head back north to the alvord desert, its on your right along with several hot springs you can soak in along the way. Mickey hot springs is also on a little further but I dont remember turn off. Evenings at mickey hots springs usually involves wild horses hanging out and grazing. From the desert side you can see just how crazy the lift is on the fault block formed steens mts(from the west side its more gradual slope). There are bighorm sheep on the east slopes you can see with binocs. There is a ton of stuff to see there. The alvord desert at night with clear sky and bright moon has a sheen to it from the salt that is like being on another planet
I'm shining up the binocs in preparation. These are all the things I want to see and glad to hear from an aficionado. Thanks for your enthusiasm and guidance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sjappers View Post
there are rattle snakes especially around the little blitzen..so young kids and pets need to keep an eye on. The alvord hot lake is cool to see also, but when I went it was completely un-marked trails and you have to open gates. recommend getting good detailed map of area.. I got directions to a hot springs with petroglyphs at fields, and it was literally count 7 power posts and turn left, then follow gravel road for 3-4 miles and turn right at broken wind mill..
Yeah, the rattle snakes. That's the one thing I don't miss on the West side. I've got the newest detailed recreation maps of the area and several uploaded to the iPad. Even with that, I always feel like a tiny spec in the vastness of Southeastern Oregon. Middle of nowhere is right.


Thanks, everybody. This is great stuff and will help us out a lot!

.
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Old 07-28-2017, 12:59 PM   #8
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That is a lightning shot (pulled from video clip)
I got from close to the peak. Never forget the day, had dinner at frenchglen, than evening drive on loop from north side (like going to fish lake). We had been watching the clouds as they slowly turned into thunderheads when this strike happened.
It was aswome. Evenings are best for deer and usually finding a big flock of sheep.
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Old 07-28-2017, 04:41 PM   #9
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Another vote for the drive through Christmas Valley. That's a nice ride with a raptor on every other power pole.
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Old 07-28-2017, 10:37 PM   #10
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I've wondered about road conditions of the loop. Hoping it's still good. Thanks for the recommendations.
Last year the road was mostly smooth gravel with some sections of wash board.
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