Tiny Frenchglen, Oregon is way the heck out there in the middle of nowhere. Its location in the southeastern Oregon Outback is perfect, though, as a launching spot for an adventure in the Steens Mountain Wilderness. Opportunities for wildlife watching (including herds of wild horses) are a big tourist draw, as is the drive to the top of Steens Mountain.
I spent years trying to come up with a vacation itinerary that would take me to remote southeastern Oregon. Every time, I just couldn’t make it work. A visit to Frenchglen and Steens Mountain would take too much time, and it was just too remote to fit into any plan. So, I skipped southeastern Oregon, again and again.
That is, until 2013. And wouldn’t you know it, I ended up in the Oregon desert, during some very lousy, very un-desert-like weather.
The entire drive south from Burns was rainy, but when I pulled into Frenchglen, it was merely a drizzle. I parked the car, and decided I’d explore the entire town on foot. That’s not hard to do, when you’re in a town with a population of 12.
The most notable landmark in town is the Frenchglen Hotel. It’s a State Heritage Site that dates back to 1917, and nowadays it’s operated by Oregon State Parks. One night will run you about $75, but you can also stop by for a family-style meal.
Staying here wouldn’t be a bad idea, if you’re planning on a day of exploring the Steens Mountain Wilderness nearby. Just remember, aside from dinner, there won’t be much else to do. There’s no TV or telephone, and your cell phone might not work.
Elsewhere around town, Frenchglen has a K-8 school…
… and a building that apparently used to be a gas station (there are some modern gas pumps nearby, in case you didn’t fill up in Burns).
This building is boarded up and abandoned. Next door, however…
… the Frenchglen Mercantile is still in business. I was hoping for some exciting Frenchglen souvenirs, but this is more of a “basics” place.