Steens Mountain Region

Lloyd Irwin

A secret revealed

It’s alpine quality rivals Oregon’s better known Cascade peaks, and yet Steens Mountain is largely undiscovered. Once visited, however, Steens Mountain is not easily forgotten.
Often mistaken for a chain of mountains, Steens is actually one contiguous monolith that dominates the horizon. Stretching some 30 miles wide and a mile vertical, Steens is the largest fault block mountain in Oregon, if not North America. From the high points along its long ridgeline, one can look out over the Alvord Desert to the south and gaze into deep gorges to the north.
Raptors soar over this mountain that juts out of the vast sagebrush sea, while sage-grouse, pronghorn, and many other wild creatures make their homes on its slopes covered with sagebrush, perennial grasses, and wildflowers.


Carl Axelsen, member since 1999

Carl Axelsen, member since 1999

You folks at ONDA really have your stuff together. Such a well-planned opportunity to comment, since figuring out how to connect with the gummint is off-putting. You make it work for me.


Nate Wilson-Traisman, member since 2019

Nate Wilson-Traisman, member since 2019

“My greatest hope is that Oregon’s desert continues to gain public lands protections, and is guarded from unsustainable development, so that future generations may benefit from all the region has to offer.

I felt inspired by trips to Oregon’s high desert, and was actively searching for ways to contribute to the protection of these wild places. ONDA stood out as a leader in this respect, and when I’ve had money to contribute, ONDA has been a clear choice.”


Oregon’s first desert wilderness

Oregon’s first desert wilderness

Steens Mountain: Oregon’s first desert wilderness

On October 30, 2000, Congress passed the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Act, finishing the work that had taken ONDA and the other members of the Steens-Alvord Coalition decades  

Steens Mountain is a land of startling contrasts: dramatic u-shaped

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A view of Steens from the Alvord Desert

Greg Burke   Website

Mountain mahogany at sunset

Jesse Laney   Website

The Alvord Desert Playa

Sean Bagshaw   Website

Aspen groves

Barb Rumer

A captivating place to explore

Steens Mountain is remarkable for its unrefined, stark beauty which attracts visitors and area residents alike.
Each year, more than 100,000 people visit Steens to hunt, fish, hike, camp, bird watch, or just absorb the peace found in the area. From sweeping vistas to deep canyons and gorges cut by prehistoric glaciers, people get hooked on Oregon’s desert after spending time in the Steens. The Kiger, Little Blitzen, Big Indian, and Wildhorse gorges are suprising in their lushness, and tend to lure visitors deeper.

Our favorite places in the Steens Mountain Region

Our dedication to Steens

Thanks to decades of hard work and cooperation, Steens Mountain has been preserved as a place of magnificent beauty, with grand vistas and rich wildlife habitat. Oregon Natural Desert Association gives the mountain our ongoing attention so that it can remain that way. We’ve helped to limit unsustainable uses and preserve the wild character of the region by working to make Steens the first "livestock-free" Wilderness Area in the country. Through thousands of hours of volunteer stewardship, we have improved fish and wildlife habitat and the natural character enjoyed by those who visit this special place.