Sponsored by Oregon Business

Steens Mountain Wilderness Resort becomes a fixer-upper dream

| Print |  Email
Articles - June 2011
Wednesday, May 18, 2011


The Steens Mountain Wilderness Resort was bought by Mark Webb for about $200,000. He got 16 acres, a mobile home, eight cabins and a whole lot of work necessary to upgrade after years of neglect. // Photo courtesy Steens Mountain Wilderness Resort

Mark Webb remembers loving Harney County as a kid. His parents would park their RV at the Steens Mountain Wilderness Resort outside of Frenchglen (population 12) and spend their summers in close proximity to wild horses and antelope. The big nighttime attraction was looking up at the stars.


Webb, now 53, went on to become an accountant in Nampa, Idaho, and then purchased a fixer-upper RV campground in Weiser. He continued visiting the Steens as regularly as possible and continued bringing his mother to the resort each summer after his father died several years ago. During one of those trips he learned that the Steens property was available — for $1.6 million.

That price fell dramatically as the former owners ran into financial difficulties and decided to hold onto a huge nearby cabin that was originally part of the package. “We offered a little over $200,000, and they accepted it,” says Webb. Not bad for 16 acres surrounded by some of the finest wildlife viewing country in Oregon, with a mobile home, an office building, eight cabins, showers and a laundromat.

But the property was nowhere near as pristine as the surroundings. Since closing the deal last fall, Webb and his uncle have been working long days; replacing worn out beds, gutting and rebuilding showers, and replacing ruined pipes after years of neglect.

“Pretty much every one of the cabins froze up over the winter,” Webb says. When he went to tour the property prior to buying it, a hunter was gutting an antelope carcass right in the middle of the resort.

The plan is to modernize the resort bit by bit. Webb recently brought in Wi-Fi service for the first time, and he eventually intends to build new log cabins. But not until the numbers add up; his accounting background taught him to hold off on capital expenses until he’s positive he can afford them — and to do as much as possible with his own hands.

It’s a strategy that has served him well. Webb spent 13 years turning the rundown RV park in Weiser into a profitable business while working on the side as a CPA. Now he’s taking a similarly methodical approach in the Steens, minus the side-gig in accounting (not a lot of demand for CPAs in antelope country). “It may take us years and years,” he says, “but we’re going to rebuild the whole park.”



-1 #1 Best of Luck to Mark WebbLisa 2011-06-20 11:32:47
I hope Mark Webb succeeds in his plans and look forward to a reopening of the Steens resort. Having also visited the area as a child I remember an amazingly beautiful land with incredible wildlife to view. His 'hands on' approach is admirable and an example of initiative and work ethic that is sadly lacking in our entitlement society.
Quote | Report to administrator

More Articles

Video: 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon 2015

The Latest
Monday, October 05, 2015
100-best-NP-logo-2015-video-thumbVIDEO BY JESSE LARSON

Profiling some of the organizations featured in the 2015 list.


There's a great future in plastics

Linda Baker
Friday, October 30, 2015
103115-lindachinathumbBY LINDA BAKER

This is a story about a small plastics company in wine country now exporting more than one million feet — 260 miles worth — of tubing to China every month.


The High Road

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

As CEO and owner of five different cannabis-related businesses generating a total net revenue of $2 million, Alex Rogers could sit back and ride the lucrative wave of Oregon’s burgeoning pot industry.


Not Your Father's Cafeteria

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Corporate food service reaches out to foodies.


Meet Me at the Crossroads, ESPN

The Latest
Friday, October 30, 2015

Worldwide Leader in Sports struggles to cope with new media landscape, forcing us to adjust our behavior as consumers.


The Cover Story

The Latest
Tuesday, October 06, 2015
100515-cover1015-news-thumbBY CHRIS NOBLE

As we worked on the October cover, it became evident that Nick Symmonds is a hard man to catch — even when he’s not hotfooting it around a track.


Have a baby and keep a job? It won’t be easy in Portland

The Latest
Friday, October 02, 2015
100115kimblogthumbBY KIM MOORE

Our intrepid (and expecting) research editor finds the child care search involves long waiting lists, costly fees and no certainty of securing a place before she goes back to work.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02