Oregon: Camping, Hot Springs, Wedding in the Alvord Desert

by Gabrielle Antonette

Sometimes your friends decide to get married in the middle of nowhere and all you know going into it is that you'll be camping, it'll be cold, and there won't be bathrooms, so after driving 13 hours you think that these friends are sadistic and that you've made a series of horrible decisions. Just then, though, there's a bend in the road and the landscape changes suddenly and drastically from rolling green hills to miles of blinding bright white. Whatever folk song you're playing too loudly feels too real, a tear rolls down your face, and you know, you fall in love with everything all over again. I promise this is how it works. Last spring, Sarah and Sage invited some special people from all around the country to southeastern Oregon's Alvord Desert. It's a dry lake bed that they discovered on one of their many romantic motorcycle camping trips (see Sage's photography here). It's BLM land, so it's cool to camp there but there are zero facilities. More tragedy unfolded (i.e. multiple cars got stuck in mud due to uncharacteristic rainfall, tents blew away due to intense winds*), but the magic and love only grew. 

The Alvord Desert is a gorgeous 13-hour drive from LA, but you have options. It's about 3.5 hours from Boise, Idaho and about 7 hours from Portland, Oregon. It can be added to lots of trips to Oregon, Northern Nevada, or even Northern California. *You can normally drive and camp on the lake bed, but if it has rained recently (which it almost never does), don't do that. When dry, by all means, ghost ride the whip on the lake (as shown below). Make sure you have strong, long stakes for your tent. Bring spirits and supplies to make a fire and s'mores. Bring everything you need, as you won't find much nearby. You'll be limited to fully operational hot springs and a tiny gas station that sells huge milkshakes. Heaven.