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Camping at Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area

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Steens Mountain is located in southeastern Oregon and is part of the Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area (CMPA). The region is noted for its remarkable landscapes, ranging from deep gorges to stunning vistas at the peak of the mountain, which rises about 9,733 feet above sea level. The CMPA is a conglomerate of public and private lands covering over 428,000 acres.

Camping Options

Dispersed Camping:

  • The CMPA offers numerous opportunities for dispersed camping. You can set up camp outside of developed campgrounds, but you must follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize impact.
  • There are no fees for dispersed camping, but campers must be self-sufficient and abide by rules such as packing out all trash and making sure that campfires are allowed during their visit.

Developed Campgrounds:

  • The CMPA has a few developed campgrounds, such as South Steens Campground, which provide amenities such as toilets and potable water.
  • Fees may be charged for staying at these campgrounds, and they operate on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Some developed campgrounds may offer reservations during peak seasons, but you should check the latest information before planning your trip.

Permits and Regulations

Campfire Permits:

  • Depending on current fire danger levels, campfire permits may be required. These are usually available for free at BLM district offices or online, if applicable.

Wilderness Area Restrictions:

  • Some areas within the CMPA are designated wilderness. These areas have specific regulations to preserve their wild character, including group size limits and bans on motorized equipment.

Wildlife and Plants:

  • The region is home to unique plant species and wildlife. It is important to respect wildlife by observing from a distance and not feeding animals.
  • Some plant species might be protected, and collecting or damaging vegetation is generally prohibited.

Weather and Safety

High Elevation:

  • The high elevation can bring about weather extremes with cold and stormy conditions, even in summer. Campers should be prepared for quick changes in weather and potentially snowfall at higher elevations.

Remote Location:

  • Steens Mountain is remote and does not have cell service in many areas. Make sure to inform someone of your travel plans and expected return.

Road Conditions:

  • Roads can be rugged, and many are not suitable for standard passenger vehicles. High-clearance or four-wheel-drive vehicles may be necessary, and you should check current road conditions before heading out.

Recreational Opportunities

Hiking and Backpacking:

  • There are numerous trails for all ability levels, including access to the summit of Steens Mountain for panoramic views.

Wildlife Viewing and Photography:

  • Many photographers and nature enthusiasts visit Steens Mountain for its diverse wildlife, including wild horses, bighorn sheep, and migratory birds.

Fishing and Hunting:

  • Some areas within the CMPA offer fishing and hunting opportunities in accordance with state regulations and seasonal restrictions.

Leave No Trace

  • It is essential to follow Leave No Trace principles, which include planning ahead, camping and traveling on durable surfaces, disposing of waste properly, leaving what you find, minimizing campfire impacts, respecting wildlife, and being considerate of other visitors.

Resources for Current Information

  • Prior to embarking on a camping trip to Steens Mountain CMPA, check with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which manages the area, for current conditions, regulations, and any alerts or notices.

Adhering to these guidelines will help ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable camping experience while protecting the natural beauty of Steens Mountain for future visitors.

Map of Campgrounds in Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area
Campgrounds in Steens Mountain Cooperative Management and Protection Area
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