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Things to see around the Steens mtns Oregon?

Explorer II
Explorer II

I'm in the planing stages of a trip to the  Steens mtns with my family this summer.  I plan to pass through Klamath Falls from the Willamette Valley to spend a couple days kayaking the Klamath Falls National Wildlife Refuge canoe trail and make a trip up to Crater Lake.

We will stop at French Glen and camp someplace close to the rim drive, so I can unhook the trailer and drive the loop.  I may also try flyfishing the Doner and Blitzen Rivers.  

We might check out the Malhuer Wildlife Refuge.

For those of you who have been there, what recommendations do you have for things to see and places to camp?  I am good with dispersed camping.  I have a 18ft TT and I pull it with a Tacoma 4x4.


Explorer III
Explorer III

Been several years since I have been there.  There is a real nice CG (Page Springs) right outside French Glen on the river.  The campground up the mountain at Fish Lake was pretty primitive.  Google maps looks like BLM improved it quite a bit.  The views from atop the rim were awesome.  That east slope is quite the precipitous drop.  We drove out to the Kiger Mustang viewing area to see the herd.  Reportedly that herd is a genetically pure remnant of the original Spanish mustangs and has not been interbred with modern horses.  The drive was a 4wd low crawl in quite a few places.  No idea of current road conditions.  

There is not much in French Glen.  When I was there gas was not available. 

I was somewhat disappointed with Crater Lake.  The lake itself is beautiful.  You can drive around it in one day, stopping at all the viewpoints and seeing the blue water from different angles.  But there is only one trail that accesses the lake itself, and you cannot swim or launch your own boat.  So after you drive the road there is not much else to do.  A few trails in the park backcountry.   

I have visited the Klamath Canoe Trail a couple times.  I wrote up a review for

There is a second water trail north of there on the Klamath Marsh.  My review:

And another water trail south of K-Falls in California.  Not as nice as the others.  You can pass on this one if time is short.  meh.

If you want another unique paddle trip -- the Ahjumawi Lava Springs State Park in California is accessible only by paddle craft.  

Lassen Volcanic National Park has a great place to paddle -- Butte Lake in the NE corner of the Park.  A NPS campground is adjacent (no cell coverage).  You can also boondock outside the Park on NF land.  The lake allows no power craft and the water is crystal clear all the way down.  There is a lava archipelago in the middle of the lake you can paddle around.  Sort of like an English Garden Maze, except it is water and lava rock.  If you want a nice hike, beach the kayak at the south end of the lake and hike 2.5 miles to Snag Lake -- the largest lake in California with no road access.  Some people portage a kayak and camp on the lakeshore.  It all burned in the 2021 Dixie Fire.  Watching the forest recover is interesting.  Then hike to Cinder Cone.  The views from the top are surreal, with the Painted Dunes and Fantastic Lava Beds below you.  



So many campsites, so little time...

Thanks Dave, especially for the paddle reports!  We currently considering Page Springs or a private campground very close to there.  I don't think I want to drag my trailer too far up that gravel road to the campgrounds that are further up.

We're currently trying to decide on a time to head over.  I read the road to the Steens summit sometimes doesn't open until July.  I also read something of a landslide on a section of the loop drive, so it may be an out and back drive to the summit.


Make that singular, there's only one Steens Mtn. It's been years, but I remember enjoying the mountain, Malhuer, the Alvord dry lake, and the Hart Antelope Refuge. I believe we stayed at the Antelope Hot Springs CG and at a CG near Alvord. We didn't do it, but I believe it's possible and legal to boondock on the lake itself. We were there long before Bundy. Might be interesting to return to Malhuer to hear the tales associated with that event.

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