Steens Mountain Wilderness

Steens Mountain Wilderness
Steens Mountain Wilderness
IUCN Category Ib (Wilderness Area)
Steens Mountain wildflowers
Map showing the location of Steens Mountain Wilderness
Map showing the location of Steens Mountain Wilderness
Location Harney County, Oregon, USA
Nearest city Frenchglen, Oregon
Coordinates 42°40′00″N 118°45′04″W / 42.6665536°N 118.7510263°W / 42.6665536; -118.7510263Coordinates: 42°40′00″N 118°45′04″W / 42.6665536°N 118.7510263°W / 42.6665536; -118.7510263[1]
Area 170,166 acres (68,864 ha) [2]
Established October 30, 2000
Governing body Bureau of Land Management
View from the top of Steens Mountain, looking out to Alvord Desert

Steens Mountain Wilderness is a wilderness area surrounding a portion of Steens Mountain of southeastern Oregon, U.S. The reserve falls within the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area (CMPA). Both the reserve and the CMPA are administered by the Bureau of Land Management. The wilderness area encompasses 170,166 acres (68,864 ha) of the CMPA's total 428,156 acres (173,269 ha).[3] 98,859 acres (40,007 ha) of the Wilderness are protected from grazing and free of cattle.[4]



Steens Mountain Wilderness ranges in elevation from 4,200 to 9,733 feet (1,300 to 2,967 m) at the summit of Steens Mountain. The reserve features a variety of vegetative zones, from the Arid Sagebrush Zone in the Alvord Desert, through the Western Juniper, Mountain Mahogany, Mountain Big Sagebrush, Quaking Aspen, Subalpine Meadow, and Subalpine Grassland Zones, to the Snow Cover Zone.[5]

Steens Mountain is the largest fault-block mountain in North America. Pressure under the Earth's surface thrust the block upward approximately 20 million years ago, resulting in a steep eastern face with a more gentle slope on the western side of the mountain. During the Ice Age, glaciers carved several deep gorges into the peak and created depressions where Lily, Fish, and Wildhorse lakes now stand.[5]


Flora in Steens Mountain Wilderness varies greatly according to elevation. Common plants include sagebrush, juniper, various species of bunchgrass, mountain mahogany, aspen, mountain meadow knotweed, and false hellebore.[5] Other vegetation that is endemic to Steens Mountain include Steens paintbrush (Castilleja pilosa var. steenensis), moss gentian (Gentiana fremontii), Steens Mountain penstemon (Penstemon davidsonii var. praeteritus), Steens Mountain Thistle (Cirsium peckii), a dwarf blue lupine, and Cusick's buckwheat (Eriogonum cusickii).[6][7]


Redband Trout.

Steens Mountain is home to a variety of wildlife, including bighorn sheep, Rocky Mountain elk, pronghorn antelope, sage grouse, and the threatened redband trout. Cattle can be found in the Wilderness as well, though they are excluded from grazing 98,859 acres (40,007 ha) on top of Steens Mountain.[3][5]

See also


External links

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