Big Indian Gorge

Steens Mountain Wilderness

Southeastern Oregon, Oregon

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Big Indian Gorge


  • Starting out for Big Indian Gorge.- Big Indian Gorge
  • An old homestead along the trail.- Big Indian Gorge
  • The sun sets in Big Indian Gorge.- Big Indian Gorge
  • An early morning hike toward the upper end of the gorge.- Big Indian Gorge
  • An early snowfall makes for a stunning sight on the hike into the gorge in November.- Big Indian Gorge
  • Sagebrush carpets Big Indian Gorge.- Big Indian Gorge
  • A look back into Big Indian Gorge.- Big Indian Gorge
  • Autumn in Big Indian Gorge.- Big Indian Gorge
  • Fall is definitely a great time of year to complete this hike into Big Indian Gorge.- Big Indian Gorge
  • Big Indian Gorge.- Big Indian Gorge
  • Aspens in autumn in Big Indian Gorge.- Big Indian Gorge
  • The headwall of Big Indian Gorge.- Big Indian Gorge
Overview + Weather
Glaciated landscape. Stunning views. Wildflowers. Solitude.
Southeastern Oregon, OR
Pets allowed: 
Yes, with restrictions
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,400.00 ft (426.72 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Horseback
Total Distance: 
8.00 mi (12.87 km)
Trail type: 
Trailhead Elevation: 
5,400.00 ft (1,645.92 m)
Current Local Weather:
Hike Description

Hike Description


The hike into Big Indian Gorge takes backpackers into a stunning landscape that was carved out by glaciers in the last ice age. The 8-mile hike ends at the base of the gorge headwall, passing through meadows as well as cottonwood and aspen groves.

Beginning at South Steens Campground, hikers or equestrians have a staging spot for day hikes or short backpacking trips into the gorge. The trailhead can be found at the back of the campground. The elevation at the start of the hike is 5,400 feet, but the hiking trail almost imperceptibly climbs to 6,800 feet at the headwall where the trail fades and can be hard to find.

There are three stream crossings along the way, which can be difficult or impassable at times in the spring and early summer. Fishing enthusiasts who hike with rod in their pack can find red-band trout in the river. The U-shaped gorges, carved by glaciers, are sure to amaze, as will the wildflowers and waterfalls. A number of primitive campsites exist along the way, and hikers will pass an old abandoned homestead on the hike.

The Big Indian Gorge Trail is part of the 750-mile Oregon Desert Trail route that starts outside of Bend and ends at the Owyhee Reservoir near the Idaho border.

Make sure to call to check trail conditions before heading out as snow can be an obstacle early in the season. The area is managed by Burns BLM District, which can be reached at 541.573.4400.

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Field Guide

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Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(7 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(13 within a 30 mile radius)

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