The Alvord Desert

After leaving the Steens Mountain high country, I spent a night at the South Steens Campground — where uncouth visitors in need of firewood were hacking down large tree limbs within the campground proper — and then proceeded on to the Alvord Desert. My stay at South Steens was unremarkable. There’s a reportedly amazing trail that ascends Big Indian Gorge, but the amazing part demands an overnight backpacking trip that I couldn’t squeeze in. The first three miles or so that I hiked out and back are rather pretty in their own right, though.

The Alvord Desert was more my cup of tea. It’s a large, desolate, beautiful playa that sits at the eastern base of Steens Mountain. This time of year it’s dry enough to drive across, and I even saw a handful of little sail-powered cars zipping along the windy flats. I spent a few days out there exploring, including some long walks to nowhere and also a scramble up Tule Springs Rim, just to the east of the playa.

Here are some pictures of the playa. Since then I’ve driven across Nevada and Utah. I’m writing this from Colorado, where I’m retrieving stored personal belongings in anticipation of resuming a normal life with a roof over my head.

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