Springtime cabin fever can make it feel like the long, dark, wet days in the Pacific Northwest will never end. The initial excitement of winter and snow is replaced with the itch to go outside and get some fresh air. But sometimes it seems like there are limited options when it comes to escaping spring rain. A weekend at Steens Mountain may just be the solution to this problem.
Steens Mountain Wilderness sits in the driest part of Southeastern Oregon, flanking the Alvord desert, and is the largest fault block mountain in North America. Despite its impressive size, the somewhat remote area is relatively unknown, even by Pacific Northwest locals. It is the ideal way to escape from everywhere to go somewhere.
The mountain itself is nearly 10,000 feet high and has a road that will take you all the way to the top for most of the year. Depending on the harshness of winter weather, this road may be gated during the spring, but there is nothing stopping you from driving the perimeter of the mountain. Along this drive you can view the massive gorges, geological features and wildlife that Steens is known for. You may even come across the wild mustang horses that call the mountain home.
Various hiking trails are scattered throughout the area, giving you the opportunity to successfully banish that cabin fever once and for all. If you’re hoping for an early season camping trip, stay at Page Springs Campground. Here you will have your choice of 36 campsites where you can sleep under cottonwood and juniper trees and a star-filled night sky. The campground is ADA accessible and features picnic tables, fire rings and water lines. Page Springs Campground is also the location of the trailhead for Little Blitzen River Trail, giving you easy access to a hike along the river. Depending on the road conditions, you may have access to some of the higher elevation locations such as Kiger Lookout and the Little Blitzen Gorge Trail.
If you prefer more established accommodations for the night, make a reservation at Frenchglen Hotel. The hotel serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and is less than an hour drive from the mountain. To top off your weekend experience, make a stop at Alvord Hot Springs and relax in the warm waters at the base of Steens Mountain.
For more information about Steens Mountain Wilderness, visit blm.gov/visit/steens-mountain-wilderness. To plan your trip, visit traveloregon.com/places-to-go/regions/eastern-oregon. To make a reservation at Frenchglen Hotel, go to frenchglenhotel.com.