Frenchglen Travel Guide

  • Atop the 9,733 foot high summit of Steens Mtn
    Atop the 9,733 foot high summit of...
    by mtncorg
  • Byway atop Steens Mountain
    Byway atop Steens Mountain
    by mtncorg
  • Looking up to the summit with dust plumes in air
    Looking up to the summit with dust...
    by mtncorg

Frenchglen Things to Do


    One thing you can notice when you are driving in eastern Oregon is that ranches tend to be very large operations. Water and grazing land for cattle is scarce in the desert out here. The Whitehorse Ranch is a perfect example of such a megaranch. This ranch has a rich history going back to 1869 when John Devine drove a cattle herd up here north from...


    A few homes, an elementary school - originally, there was only one teacher, but there are two today, a store/gas station/cafe ... this is Fields. Named after Charles Fields who established the station in 1881, this is the community center for te ranches on the east side of the Steens. The gas station/cafe is also a main stopping point for travelers...


    Wildhorses and burros have thrived in western desert regions growing to populations that jeopardize the ecology and compete with range cattle. In response, The BLM goes out periodically and gathers up some of the wild stock and corrals them for future adoption. The horses come off Steens Mountain - some can be seen in the wild in the canyons above...


    I am not a birder, but if I was .... Over 320 species of bird - 58 species of mammal - can be found on this main stop along the Pacific Flyway. Extensive marshlands surrounding both Harney and Malheur Lakes and along the Donner und Blitzen River to the south attract thousands of birds each year. The creation of the refuge dates to 1908 when it...


    Round barns were popular in the latter part of the 19th century in America - though they had been around before that time. Structurally, they were efficient in use and simpler in design due to lack of elaborate truss systems. This round barn was used to break horses during the winter months - 300 to a thousand horses moved through here each year....


    Wildhorse Lake is not only the biggest on Steens Mountain, it is the largest alpine lake in the entire Great Basin. The lake is trapped on a high bench in the upper regions of the glacially-cut Wildhorse Gorge. From the summit trailhead parking lot, another trail comes off to the right that takes you to the Wildhorse Overlook in only 1/4 mile. From...


    Access to the true summit of Steens Mountain is via a two-mile road that separates the Steens Byway into northern and southern sections. From the parking lot at 9,500, you walk up a steep jeep road for 0.5 miles to the radio buildings atop the peak - the summit is 100 feet tothe left of the buildings. The views here are even better than those from...


    This viewpoint is found along the way to the Summit trailhead off the main byway. The Big Indian Gorge is one of the four major canyons that cut deeply into the mountainscape here. It is possible to walk up the canyon with a trail that starts the way for you which eventually will peter out. It is about four miles up the canyon to the headwal and...


    The next glacial gorge after Kiger is this one, down which flows the Little Blitzen River, one of 27 perennial streams that flow off Steens Mountain. Like the Kiger Gorge, this is another U-shaped glacial valley. The Little Blitzen is a tributary of the Donner und Blitzen River - whose marshland valley makes up a major part of the Malheur National...


    This is as high as you can drive your car in Oregon - 9,730 feet high. The view is a knockout. On a clear day you look out over hundreds of miles. To the east, the mountain drops precipitously over 5,000 feet in three miles. It is similar to what you see atop the South Warners ro the Ruby Mountains only with more people to share the experience...


    Not far past the highest campground on the norther circuit of the Byway is a small road leading off the the Kiger Gorge Overlook. Take it! Like many other Great Basin ranges, the Steens were subject to glaciation and being more northerly, the range was impacted more than others. Kiger Gorge is of the most impressive examples of glaciation you will...


    Steens Mountain - it is singular and not plural - is a magnificent example of a Great Basin fault-block range with a gentler rising western side and a dramatic cliffside to the east where it drops off over 5,000 feet in just three horizontal miles. Unlike other Great Basin mountains, however, here access to the top is given to the many by way of...


Frenchglen Transportation

  • mtncorg's Profile Photo


    by mtncorg Written Sep 13, 2010

    Forty-nine miles of gravel, but it is good gravel. This is the Whitehorse Ranch Lane which links Fields and Steens Mountain to US 95 to the east - there onto to Jordan valley or Winnemucca. Whitehorse Ranch is roughly midway along the route - there is almost nothing to the east. In the valley east of Fields, you will drive past several ranches exiting the valley winding your way up the pretty Trout Creek Canyon. Leaving the canyon above, the road then sprints northeast towards the Whitehorse with broad views of the Steens massif on your right and the Trout Creek Mountains rise to your left. Have plenty of gas - fill up in Fields before setting out - and enjoy this excellent opportunity at seeing a part of Oregon that few get the chance to.

    Looking east on the gravel of the Lane The Lane running towards US 95 over high desert
    Related to:
    • Horse Riding
    • Historical Travel
    • Road Trip

    Was this review helpful?


Instant Answers: Frenchglen

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

26 travelers online now


Frenchglen Travel Guide
Map of Frenchglen

View all Frenchglen hotels