Steens Mountain

Steens Mountain, one of the highest roads of OR

Steens Mountain is a high mountain peak at an elevation of 2.968m (9,737ft) above the sea level, located in Harney County, in the southeastern part of the U.S. state of Oregon. It’s said to be the highest road of Oregon.

How long is the road to Steens Mountain in OR?

Set high in the Steens Mountain Wilderness, the road to the summit is totally unpaved. It’s called Steens Mountain Road. Starting at OR-205, near Frenchglen, the road is 43.61km (27.1 miles) long. The road is bumpy in places, but much of the surface has been upgraded and improved in recent years, except for one short, narrow, steep section of the road near the viewpoints of Big Indian and Little Blitzen gorges. It can be driven by standard vehicles. Passenger cars shouldn’t have any trouble. The gravel is generally good throughout the route.

Is the road to Steens Mountain in OR open?

It’s usually open from mid-June to October, weather permitting. The road reaches an elevation of 9,700 feet. A gated road (closed to the public) goes right to the top, at 9,737 feet to service an array of communications towers. Snow can remain on the road into the summer, delaying the opening of the full loop. The mountain’s high elevation can cause rapid temperature changes. Blustery, 100-degree days are common and snow can fall year-round. Be prepared for sudden lightning storms, snow, rain, and high winds.

Is the road to Steens Mountain in OR scenic?

Deep in the southeast section of Oregon, the road is a spectacular gem in the high desert and provides spectacular views of the region, including Wildhorse Lake and Keigor Gorge. The road also provides access to Steens Summit and the Riddle Brothers Ranch National Historic District campgrounds. The peak isn’t quite sublime, however, because cell phone and radio towers, along with propane tanks, are present. It’s one of Oregon’s most rugged and lesser-visited destinations. The road departs the tiny, historic town of Frenchglen and climbs up Oregon’s eighth-tallest mountain on a tour of massive gorges, vast panoramas and one of the most spectacular lakes in the Pacific Northwest. Be aware of ticks, mosquitoes, and rattlesnakes in certain areas during spring and summer. High quality tires are a must for all vehicles, even when traveling on maintained routes. Located in Oregon's high desert, the area is the premier recreation destination in Southeast Oregon and an iconic part of the Oregon's High Desert landscape. The drive offers an extraordinary landscape of volcanic uplifts, deep glacier-carved gorges, stunning scenery, wilderness, wild rivers, and a rich diversity of plant and animal species. The peak was renamed in 1860 for United States Army Major Enoch Steen, who fought and drove members of the Paiute tribe off the mountain.

Is the road to Steens Mountain in OR steep?

The road to the summit is steep. Starting at the tiny, historic town of Frenchglen, on OR-205the ascent is 43.61km (27.1 miles) long. Over this distance the elevation gain is 1.689 meters. The average gradient is 3.87%.
Pic: Jared McCullough

 

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