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Geologic sightseeing

Learn more about Oregon's geology


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Basin and Range and Owyhee Uplands

Both lie in a region that has been stretched, or extended, almost 100 percent from its original width in the last 10 million years. Evidences of this extension are massive fault block mountains such as Steens and Hart Mountains, with intervening basins containing such features as the Alvord Desert and Lake Abert. Intense volcanic and hot spring activity over millions of years has produced fine-grained gold deposits and jasperoids that are prized by rock hounds. The Owyhee Uplands gets its strange name from a group of Hawaiian trappers who got lost and died in the region in 1818.

Steens Mountain,
located 60 miles south of Burns in southeastern Oregon: In summer, you can drive to the top of this 9,670-foot-high fault block mountain to look over the Alvord Desert more than 5,000 feet below. Because of its unique geology and ecological diversity, Steens Mountain has been designated a Cooperative Management and Protection Area. Other unusual geologic features in the area include Diamond Craters, which has an extraordinary collection of volcanic features, and glaciated Kiger Gorge on Steens Mountain. For more information contact the Burns BLM, HC74-12533 Highway 20 West, Hines, OR 97738, phone 541-573-4400.

Links:

Oregon Outdoors
Fremont National Forest
BLM Lakeview District
Steens Mountain
Owyhee Canyon
Malheur Field Station
Eastern Oregon Geology Tour

map legendCoastal RangeKlamath MountainsDeschutes-Columbia PlateauBlue MountainsHigh Lava PlainsCascade RangeWillamette ValleyBasin & Range & Owyhee uplandsBasin & Range & Owyhee uplands

Graphic by Elizabeth L. Orr, Geology of Oregon


map legendaBlue MountainsWillamette ValleyDeschutes-Columbia plateauKlamath MountainsCoast Rangemap legendbCascade MountainsBasin Range & Owyhee uplandsHigh Lava plainsOwyhee UplandsCascade MountainsBasin & Range & Owyhee UplandsHigh Lava PlainsOwyhee UplandsCascade MountainsBasin & Range & Owyhee UplandsHigh Lava PlainsOwyhee UplandsCascade MountainsBasin & Range & Owyhee UplandsHigh Lava PlainsOwyhee UplandsCascade MountainsBasin & Range & Owyhee UplandsHigh Lava PlainsOwyhee Uplands


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Owyhee uplands
The Owyhee River travels through one of the most remote areas in the Northwest.


Steen mountains
Steens Mountain is a huge uplifted block
typical of Basin and Range geology.


Steen mountains
Now seasonal, Alvord Lake once stretched a hundred miles north on the eastern edge of Steens Mountain.




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Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries
800 NE Oregon Street, Suite 965, Portland, OR 97232-2162
971-673-1555, FAX 971-673-1562
email us at DOGAMI