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Alvord Desert Panorama | by BLM Oregon & Washington
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Alvord Desert Panorama

East of Steens Mountain, the Alvord Desert, with its alkali playa that was once an ancient seabed, unfolds for miles.


The Alvord Desert playa can be either wet or dry depending on the time of year, and is one of the largest playas in Oregon—six miles wide and 11 miles long. That means plenty of room for setting up a tent and peering up at the stars in the sky!


Tens of thousands of years ago, a lake almost 200 feet deep covered the Alvord Desert and extended southward into Nevada. The old shoreline forms terraces along the edge of the valley, and deep under the desert floor are the same lava flows that make up the top of Steens Mountain.


The Alvord playa in southeastern Oregon is a popular venue for land sailing, glider flying, kite boarding and camping, among many other outdoor pursuits.


Contact our local office in Burns for more information:

28910 Hwy 20 West

Hines, OR 97738



Online pamphlet:


Words: Toshio Suzuki, BLM

Photo: Matt Christenson, BLM

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Taken on July 26, 2017