Kiger Gorge is a prime example of the geological events that shaped Oregon’s diverse landscape. During the last ice age, pressure from glaciers on Steens Mountain, the largest fault-block mountain in the northern Great Basin, carved a half-mile wide u-shaped trench through the mountain's basalt. Today, Kiger Gorge provides habitat for quaking aspen, western juniper, and the Steens Mountain paintbrush, found nowhere else in the world. Elusive wildlife in the area include Rocky Mountain elk, mule deer, mountain lion, bighorn sheep and pronghorn antelope, and migratory and predatory birds.
From the overlook, Kiger Gorge's appearance varies dramatically according to seasons and weather. Consider a visit while the valley is lush with color and foliage, or enjoy the view during the last few weeks of fall when snow has dusted the gorge floor and ridgelines. Always be prepared for unexpected changes in weather, including high temperatures, wind, and snow, as it is easy to forget that you are at the top of a very exposed mountain.
Access to the overlook is easy, and the overlook is just a quarter-mile walk from a small parking area off of Steens Mountain Loop Road. Do note that the overlook is exposed to high winds and has no guard rails, so make sure to take in the view from a reasonable distance.
Note: The Steens Mountain Loop Road is closed seasonally depending on snowpack. Call the Bureau of Land Management's local station in Hines at 541.573.4400 for more information.
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.