7 Best Things to Do in Wildhorse Lake (Oregon)

the view of kiger gorge

Wildhorse Lake is a quiet and secluded place. It is located in Harney County, 40 miles (just over 64 km) north of the Nevada state border.

Big cities are missing. Semi-desert landscapes share the same space with emerald green mountain meadows and glacial lakes.

Most tourists come here from mid-spring to mid-autumn or between April and October.

Summer weather is usually sunny and clear, warm during the day 73 – 74°F (about 23°C) and cold at night 32 – 45°F (approximately between 0 and 7°C).

The biggest attraction, of course, is Wildhorse Lake itself.

Being a tempting place for a long weekend in nature, it offers excellent opportunities for hiking. Here’s what not to miss while in the area:

1. Enjoy the shores of Wildhorse Lake

the shore of wildhorse lake
The shore of Wildhorse Lake by Bureau of Land Management/Flickr

Wildhorse Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes in Oregon.

Situated in a mountainous area near the Nevada border, the lake is surrounded by alpine landscapes dominated by steep mountain slopes.

The area is devoid of trees, but is covered with mountain emerald meadows.

The lake is of glacial origin and has an oval shape.

Apart from enjoying the panorama, you can also take a dip in the lake and swim. Keep in mind, however, that the water can be icy cold, even in the heat of summer.

In addition, the lake can be deep, so stay around the shore, even if you are a good swimmer.

On the other hand, the water in the lake is crystal clear and its shores are an excellent place for recreation.

2. Walk along Wildhorse Creek

Wildhorse Creek is one of the greatest beauties in the area.

Fed by the melting snow and ice of the Steens Mountain, the mountain stream is known for its cold and crystal clear waters.

The area is dominated by alpine landscapes and green mountain meadows, which in spring and summer are covered with a carpet of wonderful wild flowers.

3. Enjoy the view from Steens Summit Trail

the view from steens summit trail
The view from Steens Summit Trail by Wildernice/Flickr

If you want to enjoy the most beautiful view of Wildhorse Lake, the best place for you is the Steens Summit Trail, which follows the ridge northeast of the lake.

It reveals a breathtaking panorama.

Because of the low humidity, on clear days you can enjoy a stunning panorama tens of miles to the south.

This is also the best place to take pictures from.

4. Enjoy the wonderful wild flowers

butterfly and wildflowers
Butterfly and wildflowers by Bureau of Land Management/Flickr

A carpet of wonderful wild flowers covers the emerald green mountain meadows in the area from late spring until mid summer.

The great variety of colors is a joy for the eyes.

The bright yellow shades of the lovely monkeyflowers and the delicate soothing pink and purple shades of lupine dominate the landscape, but they are just a small part of everything you will be able to see here.

5. The view of Kiger Gorge

the view of kiger gorge
The view of Kiger Gorge by Bureau of Land Management/Flickr

You will find one of the natural wonders of Oregon approximately 5.2 miles (or 8.3 km) northeast of Wildhorse Lake.

Known as Kiger Gorge, the saddle shaped canyon was formed during the last ice age as a result of the movement of a giant melting glacier.

The view of the gorge is breathtaking. Approximately 2,000 feet deep, it is one of the deepest in Oregon.

6. The night sky over Wildhorse Lake

milky way over wildhorse lake
Milky Way over Wildhorse Lake by Bureau of Land Management/Flickr

Because of its dry semi-desert climate and mostly clear cloudless skies, Wildhorse Lake is considered one of the top places to observe the night sky in the United States.

Because of the low humidity in the area, the view is truly exceptional.

Like many other places in Oregon, here you can enjoy the bright stars and the Milky Way all year round.

7. The wild horses

This part of Harney County is home to a large population of wild horses (hence the name of the lake).

While walking around, it is absolutely possible to see some of the herds roaming in the area.

The number of wild horses is estimated between 4,000 and 5,000.

The animals have become one of the symbols of the area of Wildhorse Lake as well as of the Western United States.