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Steens Mountain

Steens Mountain
Steens Mountain

The flora of Steens Mountain and the surrounding areas (Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Diamond Craters and the Alvord Desert) contains somewhere around a thousand different taxa of plants (a book about the flora covers 871 species; the list from the Washington Native Plant Society contains 1053 species). Considering the ecological diversity, the high number of taxa is not surprising.

The first photograph is taken from the summit, looking southeastward onto the Alvord Desert (from the same spot as yesterday's Cirsium peckii photo). The summit stands over 1700m (5500 feet - or more than a mile) higher than the floor of the Alvord Desert which it dizzyingly overlooks. The western slope, however, is a gentle incline, taking about 25km (16mi) to ascend from the marshy Malheur area to the summit. As you ascend from the west, you pass through a number of vegetation zones: the marsh, sagebrush-grassland, juniper-pine forest, a second zone of sagebrush with poplar groves in moister areas, subalpine meadows and rocky alpine. The second photograph shows an area of transition between the sagebrush-grassland and the juniper-pine forest.

11 Comments

I've really enjoyed the several photos from Steens Mountain over the past few days, Daniel. I have always wanted to go there, and these have reinforced my determination to follow through on that wish. I also understand there is a rare subspecies of cutthroat trout in some stream(s) on Steens Mt., and I'd like to see it.

Is that the Lahontan cutthroat trout? If you're interested in fish, there's also the endemic Borax Lake chub – Borax Lake occurs at the south end of the Alvord.

And Bruce, you absolutely must visit there.

Beautiful . . . thank you for the meadow. Makes my day here in the city more relaxed just by looking at it.

Agreed! The bottom photo brings back memories of the high puna in Peru, except with scattered trees.

Hey Daniel,
Greetings from Vermont! (home of the Green Mountain Maidenhair Fern). I've enjoyed the recent posts as well. How bewitchingly strange and yet the same to an Eastern naturalist. Any good, accessible, (not $53 a download!), materials on emdemism in the Intermountain region, or perhaps North America in general?

The photo of Steen's mountain took my breath away. Wonderful work, Daniel!

wow nice shots - did you drive your suv up there?

Well, yes, we did rent an SUV for the trip, but one could just as easily get to the top of the mountain using a passenger car. One can't (reasonably) complete the Steens Mtn Road loop in a passenger car, though - the south part of the loop requires a high clearance vehicle.

If you want to know more about this great place read: "Child of Steens Mountain" by Eileen O'Keefe McVicker with Barbara J Scot. A wonderful book about the life and times Of Eileen. You will laugh, cry and sit on the edge of your chair. Oregon State University Press. Hot off the press!

Thanks, RMJ — added to my holiday wish list!

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