Steens Mountain is most often viewed and approached from its gently sloping western face. Exploring the mountain from this angle is a must, but trips south along the mountain’s eastern side are often overlooked and underrated. In contrast to the massive and gradual incline from the west, Steens Mountain’s eastern face is an impressively sheer, 1-mile tall vertical escarpment. Mann Lake is one of the best places to enjoy this view.
Just north of the Alvord Desert, which itself was once a lake, Mann Lake still holds water year-round and is known among anglers for its Lahontan cutthroat trout that have adapted to its alkaline waters. Convenient for anglers, especially, the lake is shallow throughout its 200 acres and easy to access from its entire shoreline. For the general outdoor enthusiast, Mann Lake Recreation Site is appealing for things often sought but rarely found: remoteness, an unparalleled quiet, and extreme natural contrasts.
A handful of primitive campsites situated near the eastern and western shoreline provide overnighters with only basic amenities, but most importantly, one of the area's most spectacular views of Steens Mountain.
Be sure to fill up on gas before heading out to the Steens Mountain and Alvord Desert area. Year-round gas stations are in Burns and Fields, Oregon. The gas station in Frenchglen is only open during the summer months. Further, cell phone reception is virtually nonexistent in much of the area, so travel with extra provisions. If you plan to explore the area extensively, we highly recommend bringing additional, full gasoline canisters to ensure that you don't get stranded.