Exploring southeastern Oregon, Darlene and I made our way up to Alvord Desert, below the eastern front of Steens Mountain. We zipped around the playa mid-day for a little while and then continued north along the steep eastern front of the mountain. As it turns out, all the roads up into the mountain from this side feature private property signs and require special permission to access, so we ended up continuing on to other southeastern Oregon destinations before eventually circling back several days later.
On our way back we passed through the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and headed to the highlands in hopes of seeing the Kiger Mustangs. These are wild horses which were only fairly recently discovered to be direct descendents of Iberian horses brought over by Spanish conquistadors some 400 years ago. We did come across a large herd near the road that we could watch for a long while before sunset, even while we cooked and ate dinner.
The next day we took up the Steens Mountain loop from the north, going clockwise and checking out Kiger Gorge before finding a pullout along the road to spend the night. (Too many mosquitos in the actual campground back down amongst the creek and aspens.) Over the next couple of days, we checked out many stupendous viewpoints and got in a few hikes (including off-trail from the peak). We camped at another pullout near the top one night so we could more easily catch sunrise and we ran into another herd of wild horses at lower elevations.
After Steens Mountain, we headed home west (choosing to skip a follow-up visit to Alvord Desert) and stayed overnight in Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge where we enjoyed a soak in a hot spring pool and did spot a herd of antelope.
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