Hiking the Alvord, a playa of immense flatness, is a sojourn with altered senses. Begin a mile south of Alvord Hot Springs, backpacking eastward across a landscape that allows you to walk for hours with your eyes closed if you wished to do so. You can touch the flat's eastern edge, 7 miles later, but be sure to sleep on the playa to savor the morning and evening light. You'll want to retrace your steps westward, towards the 5,000-foot east face of Steens Mountain, The Alvord's complementary opposite. Two miles north of the hot springs a gated jeep road leads west, up cascading Pike Creek, and a scrambling route continues to the Steens crest.
Bureau of Land Management: (541) 573-4400, www.or.blm.gov/Burns/