Steens Loop Tour Route
These maps and directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results. For travel options, weather and road conditions, visit tripcheck.com, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941.
Just about any place you find on TravelOregon.com can be added to your own Oregon Roadtrippers Account. Find out how.
Get on the road with Roadtrippers
We’ve partnered with Roadtrippers to provide a great way to plan a trip around Oregon. So start planning your next road trip to here, there or pretty much anywhere in Oregon.
Steens Mountain rises up from the sagebrush desert to nearly 10,000 feet. This 59-mile/95-kilometer loop includes the highest road in Oregon, traveling around and up this grand Great Basin landmark.
Steens Mountain is one of Oregon’s great scenic and geologic wonders, a 30-mile/48.2-kilometer fault block that is a small mountain range rather than a single peak. This tour route scales the Steens, climbing thousands of feet and topping out just shy of the summit at 9,734 feet.
From Frenchglen, the first 5 miles/ 8 kilometers of the route along North Loop Road traverse the southern end of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. Page Springs Campground sits alongside the Donner und Blitzen River (German for “thunder and lightning”). It’s designated a Wild and Scenic River from here to its headwaters atop the mountain.
The tour route begins its climb in earnest, ascending from arid sagebrush to small lakes and a shady respite of quaking aspen. Some of the graffiti scratched into the tree bark was made decades ago by Basque shepherds, many of whom first arrived in Oregon in the late 19th century and settled in the southeastern corner of the state.
Just shy of the rim is Kiger Gorge, a classic U-shape glacial valley about a half-mile/0.8 kilometers deep. Glaciers once scoured down this mountain, scrubbing away softer sediments and creating distinct notches in the bedrock.
From Kiger Gorge, the road turns south and skims along the rim. At the East Rim Viewpoint, peer off the precipice to the Alvord Desert 1 mile/1.6 kilometers below. On a clear day, you can see beyond Oregon to Nevada, Idaho and California.
From the summit, the tour route eases down the mountain’s western slope. Overviews and short trails offer looks into the picturesque canyons of Big Indian Gorge and Little Blitzen Gorge. You’ll once again cross the Donner und Blitzen River en route back to OR-205, the High Desert Discovery Scenic Byway. Watch for wildlife along this stretch, particularly the wild horses that roam these wild lands.
related Trip Ideas
It seems like most people don’t know about Steens Mountain, and fewer have been. Other mountains get all the attention in Oregon: Mt. Hood, the Three Sisters, Mt. Jefferson and countless other snow-capped Cascade peaks are the first summits that…
This 143-mile tour skirts along the eastern escarpment of Steens Mountain and the vast expanses of the Alvord Desert, providing a scenic study in dramatic contrasts.
Last October, I had the opportunity to take a driving tour through Southeastern Oregon. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. I’d heard of the hot springs and the mountains, but what I was most interested in was the desert. It seemed…
The daffodils are up, the cherry trees are blossoming and spring is in the air. The air is also full of birds migrating and nesting across the state of Oregon. Whether you’re a beginning birder or well-weathered friend of the feathered, you’ll…
It’s fitting that Oregon, land of craft beer and gorgeous landscapes, would find a way to celebrate both. If the weatherhas you champing at the bit for wide open spaces and a tall cold one, we have just the trip for you. Saddle up and head out…
Members of the Stein family have been grain farmers in Wallowa County for multiple generations. Because they produced high-quality rye, wheat and barley, the next step was a logical one: Use it to create Oregon’s first Eastern Oregon micro…
I’m here at the start of a four-day tour of my favorite part of Oregon, from the eastern slope of the Cascades to the Idaho border, a vast swath of endlessly curvy roads, incredible scenery and plenty of space to get lost in. The sun has warmed…
The folks out in Eastern Oregon have some serious bragging rights: the deepest river Gorge in North America, some of the highest peaks in the state and more scenic byways than any other region. But their accolades in food and drink are equally…
Memorial Day Weekend heralds the opening of most outdoor pools across the country, and Oregon is no exception. As a mother of 2 boys, the prospects of an open pool thrills me as much as it does my kids. As mine have gotten older, I have been able to…
Winter in Eastern Oregon is a tapestry of rugged beauty snow-covered mountain peaks, frozen lakes and frosty plains. And without the crowds of summertime, this part of the state offers unique opportunities for outdoor play in wide-open spaces.…
Is any of the information on this page incorrect?
Keep in mind many of the routes listed here travel through remote areas where gas stations are few and far between. And since road and weather conditions can be hazardous, even into summer, we urge you to call 800-977-6368 or check Trip Check before starting out.