Interested in visiting? Check out our Steens Mountain Visitors Guide.
A Desert Jewel
Steens Mountain lies along the horizon of southeastern Oregon like a sleeping giant among a bed of sagebrush, perennial grasses and wildflowers. Although often mistaken for a chain of mountains, Steens is actually one contiguous monolith — the largest fault block mountain in North America, stretching some 50 miles and reaching a mile vertically, with summits that overlook the Alvord Desert, wide canyons and the Donner und Blitzen River.
The mountain’s dark undulating slopes and stern ridgelines can be seen for miles, making Steens Mountain the high desert’s “crown jewel.” Unlike the glittering Cascades, it is a gem noted for its unrefined stark beauty—something wholly original in a seemingly uniform shrub sea home to sage-grouse, golden eagles, falcons, pronghorn, and other wild residents.
As described in the Steens Act, the current character and use of the lands on Steens Mountain include “grazing, recreation, historic, and other uses that are sustainable,” “traditional access to cultural, gathering, religious, and archaeological sites,” and the conservation and protection of “geological, biological, wildlife, riparian, and scenic resources.”
No industrial development exists on the mountain or within the Cooperative Management and Protection Area (CMPA). Development is limited to private ranches and primitive campgrounds and recreation facilities. However, this natural character is threatened by proposed industrial-scale energy development on the northern flank of the mountain.
Energy development would impair this fragile place. Plans to b would not only ruin the character of the mountain, but could seriously harm sensitive wildlife habitat. We continue to be vigilant on this proposal. More information is available on our Energy page.