At the base of Steens Mountain's rugged eastern face, a few worthy primitive campsites line the banks of Pike Creek and provide ideal places to overnight in this beautiful and isolated environment. The campsites enjoy the protective shade of cottonwood trees and thick willows. With few camping options located on the east side of Steens Mountain, these campsites are a great asset to any outdoor adventurer traveling though. To camp here, be sure to check-in first at the Alvord Hot Springs, which manages these private sites. Note that the campground managers expect prompt payment before checking in.
If you are itching for a better perspective on the Alvord Desert, follow the creek 1-mile upstream to the Pike Creek Mine. For those that wish to access the nearby trailhead, it is free to park at the BLM sign and walk in, or there is a day use fee to drive in and park at the trailhead parking area (payable at the Alvord Hot Springs). Fees escalate for parties greater than two.
Note: The short 0.6-mile access road up to the campsites requires a four-wheel drive, high-clearance vehicle. Two-wheel drive vehicles are best parked near the cattle guard at the road's entrance. Should the campsites already be occupied, primitive campsites are also available at Mann Lake and in the gravel parking area of Alvord Hot Springs.
Be sure to fill up on gas before heading out to the Steens Mountain and Alvord Desert area. Year-round gas stations can only be found 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.