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The view: Looking east across the Alvord Desert and a solitary Maule campsite.

The pilot: Gary Lanthrum

The airplane: Maule MX7-180C

The mission: Airplane camping on the Alvord Desert in southeast Oregon

The memory: I flew to the remote Alvord Desert to camp under the stars in a dark sky. It was dark, but storm clouds blocked the stars each night. The days were filled with the subtle beauty of desert mirages and absolute silence. A real dose of solitude.

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Gary Lanthrum
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    • Gary Lanthrum
      Gary Lanthrum says:

      Bill: The appeal of the Alvord Desert is its remote location, so there is no fuel nearby. Lakeview (KLKV) is about 100 NM to the west, and Burns (KBNO) is about 70 nm to the north. You can see these airports on the sectional. I usually land on the western edge of the playa at about the midpoint north to south. If you look at the Alvord on Google Maps and zoom way in, you’ll see a collection of sailplanes that gather on the desert floor in that area each summer. That is the area where I land and camp on most trips to the area. It has the added benefit of being close to Alvord Hot Springs. That is a commercial hot spring that you can soak in to take away the aches of sleeping on the ground. Do not land on dark colored sand because that indicates it is wet and the wet surface is more sticky than clay. For that reason it is best to plan flights to the Alvord between mid and late summer. Those are the driest months.


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