Wild Lands of the West | The BLM, National Geographic Magazine: Sailing In The Alvord Desert

Brightly colored sails propel boats with wheels racing on sand.

Land yachts race across the Alvord Desert, a playa or dry lake flattened landscape beneath the mile-high fault-block of Steen’s Mountain. Fans of the sport flock to the ancient lakebed in search of speeds beyond most posted interstate highway limits; the world record stands above 116 miles per hour.

Determination counts for those who travel hours to this isolated corner of southeastern Oregon and contend with extreme heat in summer, the only season when the playa is reliably dry enough for sailing.