The Alvord Desert is an amazing location for an adventure elopement in Oregon and I could not be more in love with this location and these photographs. If you are wanting to elope in Oregon this is definitely a place to consider! It’s very out of the way so you’ve most likely never been and possibly have never heard of it! It it located roughly 7 hours southeast of Portland and the trip can be chopped up into 2 legs by spending a night in Bend. It sits at the base of the Steens Mountains and seems to go on forever and ever. It’s 5 miles wide and 10 miles long so even though there’s other people out there it feels like you are isolated. I’ve never been somewhere so quiet. It’s drive on and camp-able but be sure as always to Leave No Trace and pack everything out.
An adventure elopement in the Alvord Desert takes planning and research prior, as any successful elopement day does! Here’s a few pieces of advice that may help you! One thing to note is that there is a very very long gravel road to the lake bed as well as a rough road to get onto the desert itself so 4WD is recommended. The Alvord Desert gets really hot in the summer (would not go then) and really cold in the winter. We went in October and it felt pretty perfect. It was hot when we arrived in the late afternoon and quickly cooled right off at night. There’s no shade anywhere so by 9AM the next day we were ready to head out of there. I highly recommend camping on the dry bed because its a surreal experience and the night sky is unbelievable.
Another fun tip if you’re there during the day is stopping by The Fields Station for the most epic milkshake you’ve ever had in your life. There’s a few hot springs nearby that you can check out, we didn’t because of the pandemic but would be something to try to do next time. On your way out if you’re driving through the back side of the Steens Mountains there’s a hike called Wildhorse Lake that would be worth checking out as well.
I am dying to go back and shoot another adventure elopement here! Bring your friends, just yourselves, or your pupper and prepare for an amazing adventure. I’m here to help in every way that I can to support you and am ALWAYS up for a little road trip.
Kelsey Straus is a PNW Elopement +
Intimate Wedding Photographer
based in Portland, Oregon