The next stop after Kiger Gorge is the East Rim of Steens Mountain. This is your reward for driving up the west face: you can stand at the edge of a massive, 30-mile-long fault block mountain, and look nearly one vertical mile straight down to the Alvord Basin. This image shows both the gradual slope of the west face and the sheer, rugged fall of the east face. Down below, you can see a green, perfect circle created by center pivot irrigation.
Above, you are looking north. Next, a look south:
The highest point in this photo is the summit of Steens Mountain. Gleaming in the sunlight below is the Alvord Desert playa, a perfectly flat area that bakes into hardpan in the summer (and then becomes a playground for sail carts). There are several well-known hot springs in the area, but getting to them is a bit of a drive.
Here’s a more direct view down the east face. You can see part of the Alvord Desert on the right, and if you look carefully, you’ll see a creek that runs straight down this canyon and out into the Alvord Basin, where it struggles along for a short distance and then peters out into the dry soil. The line of green on the basin floor gives it away.
The streaks of light and shadow visible in the air are not an artifact of the photo. They were really there, and added more beauty to the view. It was hard to turn away.
(Click any image to biggify.)