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Advice on Alvord Desert

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Advice on Alvord Desert

Hi again,

I mentioned in my previous post my interest in going to Oregon for a photography/hiking tour. I've now booked my flight and car rental for April 25 - May 13. I will travel along the Oregon Coast, north to south, followed by the Columbia River Gorge.

I'm keeping my itinerary flexible because I'd really like to go on a foray to the Alvord Desert for a couple of days; I know it's a remote area and would like to get advice on where to stay, whether it's accessible by regular rental car, or if not, if you'd know of any outfitters who cover the area. Any pointers would be appreciated.

Thanks again for your help.

Joe

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1. Re: Advice on Alvord Desert

Not sure why you picked the Alvord Desert. I have not been there, though have made the drive through Frenchglen to Denio along the Steens. At that time there were a few people in Fields and a little store. If they are still there might be good source

Edited: 04 March 2012, 20:19
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2. Re: Advice on Alvord Desert

Ok, Joe, you are mixed up. You are traveling along the coast, "North to South" and then going to the gorge?(which is in northern Oregon) Then back down to the desert? Maybe take a look at an Oregon map and come up with a more easily flowing trip. Also keep in mind that gas prices are now over $4.00/gal and by then, in some of the more remote stations I'm sure will be over $4.50/gal. Chuck...

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3. Re: Advice on Alvord Desert

Phirl, I picked the Alvord Desert because it presents a subject that I've been wanting to photograph for a while, from the photos I've seen, it is somewhat similar to parts of Death Valley. I found a B&B in Fields and might give them a call to inquire. Thanks for the advice.

BlackBelt4dan, I'm not mixed up; believe me, I did consult a map, and I know I might be stretching the driving a bit, but in order not to distract from the main topic with too many details, I did not mention in my original post that this would be done in several small stages, and would include a few stops going back up North and then East and Southeast (If I do end up going there), hence the "I'm keeping my itinerary flexible" part. My previous trips here in Canada, and in the Southwestern U.S. have involved similar or even more long distance driving trips. Not the point anyway, so perhaps I shouldn't even have mentioned those details in the original post.

Thanks.

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4. Re: Advice on Alvord Desert

Hi Joe- if you havent checked it out yet, the BLM is a great resource on the area. The folks at the B&B will probably have some good advice.

I think if you stick to the main highways, your rental car will be fine. Gravel roads might be ok if the weather has been decent. April/May will probalby be a bit early for alot of the high country and getting off on the dirt roads(beware the 'gumbo' clay!)-even a 4wheel drive wont get you out of this stuff if its really bad\sticky...

I have not been to Alvord- but viewed it from the top of the Steens Mtn, which wont be accessible during April/May. Jordan or Diamond Craters might be of interest and are in that neck of the woods.

blm.gov/or/…alvord-mann.php

I've heard the milkshakes at the Fields Store are like manna from heaven...

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5. Re: Advice on Alvord Desert

Hi Chinookgrrl; thanks very much for the information. I have checked out the BLM website for the area, but I think it would also be a good idea to give them a call. If I do go, I'll definitely try the milkshakes in Fields (might be my last meal before heading for the desert... and then hopefully heaven :))

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6. Re: Advice on Alvord Desert

Just a heads up regarding driving on dirt/gravel roads. A rental car will have a "hidden" GPS that reports back where it goes. If you travel a lot of miles "off road" you may get charged extra when you return the car, since often rental companies don't allow their cars to be driven off the pavement.

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7. Re: Advice on Alvord Desert

There is quite a bit to see in this part of Oregon – one of my favorite places.

Stay overnight in Burns. Then spend the next day traveling to Frenchglen. Along the way you can see the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, which will probably be full of birds at that time, and take some side trips. www.fws.gov/malheur/pdf/refugemapwithCPR.pdf

Stay overnight at the Frenchglen Hotel.

Normally you would drive from Frenchglen to the top of Steens Mountain, but, unless they have had almost no snow, the road will undoubtedly be closed. This would be a shame since there is a lot to see – including one of the great overlooks - maybe there is another way to get to the top. They probably know at the Hotel.

Look at picture 2a and you can see the Alford Desert about 1 mile below: http://www.pbase.com/greglief/steens

From Frenchlen travel to Fields and turn on to the road to the Alvord Desert and the Alvord Hot Springs (really hot and you might have them all to yourself). When you are done exploring and seeing how fast you car will go, continue on the road, a beautiful drive, with scenery like an old John Ford Western, to highway 78. You will drive past a lovely lake. I always stop: southernoregon.com/lakes/mannlake/index.html

The road from Fields to highway 78 is well maintained gravel.

Southeast Oregon is very remote as these census takers discovered:

news.google.com/newspapers…

If you decide to do this trip you will be constantly thinking: “where are all of the other tourists?”

Interesting Alford Desert stuff:

…cnn.com/vault/…index.htm

draglist.com/artman2/publish/daily_stories/T…

Edited: 05 March 2012, 21:58
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8. Re: Advice on Alvord Desert

half-Brit, thanks for bringing this to my attention; more reason to try to hire an outfitter if I do go there.

Kuskokwim, thank you so much for the wealth of information. I'll feel bad if I don't end up travelling to the area now, after the effort you've put in. I will try to see if I can fit parts or all of your recommendations into my schedule, even though at this point I'm still not totally sure I can make it. Many thanks again.

Joe

9. Re: Advice on Alvord Desert

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