Steens Mountain is a 30-mile-long fault block mountain with several glacially carved gorges and a stunning variety of endemic plants. The west flank of Steens rises gently toward an abrupt and dramatic east face. The east face drops precipitously to the basin below, featuring cliffs, gorges and crumbly rock steps.
While Steens Mountain is a long drive from anywhere, a scenic loop road travels up the west side passing by several viewpoints along the way. One popular stop takes visitors right to the top of the mountain.
You can park within a half-mile of the summit of Steens Mountain. From the summit you can see for miles: the Alvord Desert lies to the east, Malheur Wildlife Refuge to the north, Hart Mountain to the west, and the Pueblo Mountains to the south. Take the Steens Mountain Summit Trail to reach the highest point in southeastern Oregon. The summit is marked by several radio and cell towers, marring what would otherwise be a lovely place to take in the scenery.
Once you've officially touched the summit, you can backtrack to some other, better viewpoints near the Steens upper ridge. Be sure to stop at the East Rim Viewpoint and Kiger Gorge Viewpoint. There are several more; put on your adventure hat and keep an eye out for other places to get out of the car and explore.
Be aware that the full Steens Mountain Road is only open when the weather allows. This is often a short window of time during the summer. Contact the local Bureau of Land Management office for the current road status at 541.573.4400.