Burns Journals

Exploring the high desert

A December 1992 trip to Burns by Kerry

Wild Horses Photo, Burns, Oregon More Photos
Quote: In 1993 I took a six month detour in Eastern Oregon's High Desert. I had a job working for a local company that hired me sight unseen and from winter till summer I explored and rambled through everything the countryside had to offer.

Exploring the high desert


Steen's Mountain is an amazing piece of geography and geology and the center piece of the high desert plateau. From it flows the heritage and livelihood of the local people. There is a special empathy and kindness towards travelers that is common in the many small towns where the parable of the good Samaritan is taken seriously. The one room school houses are a wonderful example of rural life, and show many things about the local character. Education and healthcare are top priority on the local agenda. A small hospital, as nice as any twice it's size, and a wonderful library are key elements that speak the mantra of America's surviving small towns: Rural does not mean disconnected. Remote? Maybe...Read More
There are dorms and trailers available. The Dorms cost $18 a night and trailers go from $30 to $75. Deposit of your first night''s lodging & meals is required to hold a reservation ($15 NSF check fee). Full payment is due on arrival. A fee of $1 / month is assessed on all past due accounts Any changes in group numbers should be called in at least 7 days prior to your arrival. No refunds on meals is possible without 7 days notice of changes There is a refundable cleaning/damage deposit for groups in Dorms of $25 per Dorm There is a $2/head fee for use of cooking facilities in Cooking Dorms ($1/head for Consortium Members) Cancellation policy: Processing fee of $...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 20, 2001

Malheur Field Station
30 miles south of Burns
Burns, Oregon
(541) 493-2629

Alvord Desert Photo, Burns, Oregon
There is a special sense that comes from being in the high desert, and experiences that won't be found anywhere else. I can remember the first time I realized that I could see a thunderstorm moving towards me across the plateau from a small butte. The weather sweeping down like God's giant broom and just at the last minute running down and getting into my car to stay dry. At any sort of elevation you can see for miles.
Wild Horses Photo, Burns, Oregon
Seeing wildlife up close is worth pursuing. In Burns I had the constant feeling that I was being followed by coyotes. I'm sure I was. On my last day in the area as I was about to start down from the plateau I saw one waiting on the side of the road. I pulled over and got out of my car and for a few minutes we watched each other. In Indian mythology the coyote was the trickster and his jest may have been that I was doomed to go back and find out just what he was saying to me.

Basque country


Historic Church Photo, Burns, Oregon
The resource based local economy in Harney country has supported many kinds of farming since the country was settled by white men, but one of the most distinctive introductions was of sheep, and the shepherds who watched them. Many came from the Basque country of Spain and their influence is still to be seen in many small ways. There are still Basque surnames to be found and Basque food. In Burns at the county fairgrounds there is a Basque festival in June.