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The Steens

170,000 Acres of Steens Mountain signed into America's Newest Wilderness Area


Kiger Gorge Big Indian Gorge Wildhorse Gorge North Loop Sites
East Rim & Alvord South Loop Sites Wilderness Study Areas Malheur Basin

Steens Mountain juts up a mile above the SE Oregon desert. The massive fault block mountain is the largest such geologic formation in North America. The Steens is one single mountain, not a mountain range, and although it originates from the fiery volcanic history of Oregon, it is not shaped like the classic shield volcanoes of the Cascade Range. The Steens is an upheaved piece of the Earth's crust, characterized by its steep, razor-edge eastern rim, which slopes gently to the west, dropping from 9733 feet to 4000 feet over 20 miles. The Steens Mountain Recreation Lands are administered by the Burns District of the Bureau of Land Management
What makes the Steens a unique treasure are the 5 giant U-shaped gorges, glaciated centuries ago in the last ice age. Kiger, Little Blitzen, Big Indian, Little Indian, and Wildhorse Gorges are the major scenic attractions, as seen here. Each plunges more than 3000 feet in depth to streams designated as Wild or Scenic under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Nearly 170,000 acres of Steens Mountain became designated Wilderness on 10/30/2000. The region has been formally studied for inclusion in the National Park system and nearly became part of the 2000 round of Antiquities Act national monuments. There are those who already treasure the region as Steens Mountain National Park.

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Last Revision: 12/29/2001