In April 2012 I took a trip to "dry" Eastern Oregon
to escape the Willamette Valley
rain. I set up my "base camp" at the Frenchglen Hotel,
on the west side of Steens Mountain.
My first full day there I was up early to explore the nearby Malheur National Wildlife Refuge,
but wouldn't you know — it was raining!
While researching the area, I had read that the east side of Steens Mountain receives much less rain than the west side I was on. This massive block of rock rises about a mile up from the valley floor, so it seemed possible that it might be tall enough to prevent the rain clouds from coming over. Therefore I hit the road to see what the conditions were like on the other side of the mountain.
From Frenchglen, I first had to drive 52 miles south to the hamlet of Fields,
situated between the Pueblo Mountains
to the south and Steens Mountain to the north. All of the literature I've read on this place raves about the awesome hamburgers and milkshakes at its restaurant / general store / gas station. (The next day, even the ranger I met at the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge
patted his belly and told me how good they were! Sorry that I didn't think to take a photo of the store — I had to get one off the Web.) Well, seeing that it was before 9:00 AM, I decided to skip the famous lunch there, and just put gas in my truck. Then I was ready to begin the 65-mile trek up the valley on the east side of Steens Mountain.
Unfortunately, it was kinda rainy on this "dry" side of the Steens too. Nevertheless, I was able to take photos in numerous places along the way, including Andrews,
the Alvord Desert
and Hot Springs,
the Pike Creek
area (where I had lunch on the tailgate of my truck), the Mann Lake
area, and more. Eventually I reached the end of East Steens Road
at its junction with Oregon Route 78,
which led me back toward the Malheur Lake
area and finally Frenchglen.
All in all, it was a 200-mile, nine-hour journey around Steens Mountain, which resulted in 372 photos. I've distilled that down to the best 55 pictures, including seven panoramas. It's really a region of wide open spaces — Steens Mountain itself is fifty miles long! — which are difficult to capture except through panoramas.