Alvord Wilderness (Proposed)
Suggested Citation: Kerr, Andy. 2000. Oregon Desert Guide: 70 Hikes. Seattle: The Mountaineers Books. pp. 96-97.
Huge desert playas, unique flora and fauna in the rain shadow of Steens Mountain.
Location: Harney and Malheur Counties, 10 miles east of Andrews
Size: 644 square miles (412,247 acres)
Terrain: Gently rolling hills, sand dunes, playas, and vast flats
Elevation Range: 3,915-4,902 feet
Managing Agencies: Burns and Vale Districts BLM
Agency Wilderness Status: 288,740-acre BLM wilderness study area; 69,165 acres recommended
Recreation Maps: South Half Burns District BLM; South Half Jordan Resource Area, Vale District BLM
The area is characterized by gently rolling terrain surrounded by lava cliffs and plateaus. It also has three very large playas: the Alvord Desert, Alvord Lake, and Coyote Lake. During wet times, the water attracts migratory waterfowl.
Perhaps this area is most notable for its great herpetological diversity. Most of the herps found in the northeastern Great Basin are present, including the side-blotched lizard, sagebrush lizard, western fence lizard, desert horned liz- ard, Great Basin western rattlesnake, yellow-bellied racer, striped whipsnake, western whiptail lizard, leopard lizard, collared lizard, and Great Basin spade- foot toad. Northern kit fox may be here as well.
For discussions of the topography, vegetation, and wildlife here, please see the Steens Mountain National Conservation Area. The Oregon Biodiversity Project has included the area in its Crooked Creek—Alvord Basin Conservation Opportunity Area.
The proposal includes Mickey Hot Spring (see Steens Mountain National Conservation Area) and consists of three BLM wilderness study areas: Alvord Desert, East Alvord, and Winter Range.
The Desert Trail traverses the area (see Appendix D).