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Steens Mountain, OR | Sep-2012

K7ATN's picture
Voice Cellular Coverage: 
Decent, workable
Data Cellular Coverage: 
No service at all
Cellular Provider: 
APRS Coverage: 
Don't know

This is the only 'drive-up' ten pointer in Oregon - but perhaps because it's eight hours from the Willamette Valley it remains a pretty quiet place. It's actually a near drive-up - the walk beyond the gate to the summit and AZ is less than a half-mile. The scenery and silence of this high desert place have made it my favorite spot in the world for more than twenty years with many trips bringing family and friends to see this place. It was great to have a chance to activate it for Summits on the Air. 

Steens Mountain proper is in the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area - a unique combination of public agencies and private landowners have arranged to protect this place. The season for access via Steens Mountain Loop Road is limited - it's generally open from June to October. In the height of summer you may find the mosquitoes to be bothersome until you are above 8000 feet and it can be very windy on the exposed summit.

Travel south from Burns, Oregon on Highway 205 to Frenchglen. You should have filled up your gas tank in Burns as you could be traveling up to 200 miles before you see another good price for fuel. For accommodations in Frenchglen there is the historic Frenchglen Hotel operated by Oregon State Parks. There's also camping nearby at Page Springs at the bottom of the Steens Mountain Loop Road and at campgrounds up higher on the mountain at Fish Lake and Jackman Park. 

From Frenchglen to Steens summit is about 27 miles of good gravel road. Despite some excellent washboarding, it could be driven in a passenger car. There is a parking area at the Steens summit with about 200 feet of elevation gain over less than half a mile hike to the summit proper. The summit itself might not be considered to be the most scenic spot with all the radio repeater installations. The overlook about two miles back is the place to enjoy the views into the Alvord Desert - however that spot is not in the activation zone. 

On the summit proper there are places to operate and set up antennas, but no trees, only towers and buildings. A self-guyed vertical might be easiest to use here, although the ground is very rocky. I experienced some RF noise at 14.3425 MHz and less at 14.340 MHz.    

Note that although T-Mobile had good signals for voice calls, SMS messages did not go through from this Unicel roaming area. 


Fall colors along Steens Mountain Loop Road
Steens Summit in the distance between the sign posts
Steens Summit - antennas visible
Big Indian Gorge from Steens Mountain Loop Road