Owyhee Canyonlands Points of Interest
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A Google Earth Placemark File (KMZ) file is available for download which will mark the Owyhee Points of Interest for use in the full screen Google Earth application. Just open the KMZ file in Google Earth.
Birch Creek Ranch
The Birch Creek Ranch name encompasses two different ranches, Birch Creek Ranch and Morrison Ranch. Between the two ranches there is a total of 26 buildings or structures that are watched over by a caretaker and his wife. Some of these buildings helped this property be placed on the National Register of History Places in 1997. Today there are four campsites found here but bringing drinking water is necessary and a four-wheel drive vehicle is suggested.
There is a piece of land found at Birch Creek Ranch that has been seeded and farmed, but they don’t actually make a profit off the growth of these plants. Instead, they use the plants to attract and help feed the herbivorous mammals in the area.
This area on the west side of the river north of Rome is a colorful photographers dream for capturing the colors of the desert.
Grassy Mountain is a mountain in the Owyhee where mining rights have been claimed. Years ago, there was a worry that a cyanide leach mine would be placed here, but due to the decrease in the worth of gold it never occurred. If the price of gold increases dramatically, this could cause the mine to actually open. A cyanide leach mine would cause serious damage to the area, and completely destroy the mountain.
The Honeycombs are another facinating geological outcrop a few miles north of Leslie Gulch and received its name due to the spherical cavities that dot its cliffs. The area is also within a WSA named after the rock formation.
Leslie Gulch, formerly known as Dugout Gulch is where many Native Americans fished, hunted and camped 5,000 years before Europeans came to the area. The name change occurred in 1882, when a cattle rancher, named Hiram E. Leslie, was struck by lightening while working in Dugout Gulch. The original canyon road was used as a wagon and mail route between the towns of Rockville and Watson for years.
In 1965, 17 California bighorn sheep were reintroduced into Leslie Gulch. This herd has expanded to over 200 animals now and mule deer and Rocky Mountain elk are also found in the area. Bird watchers can find chuckar, numerous songbirds, raptors, California quail, northern flickers, and white-throated swifts here as well. Predators are also commonly found in Leslie Gulch.
The talus slopes and unique soils of the area even support a number of rare plant species. Two annual species that are found only in the Leslie Gulch drainage include Packard’s blazing star and Etter’s groundsel. Grimy ivesia, sterile milkvetch, and Owyhee clover are some rare perennials that are also found at a few isolated sites in the canyon.
This area is one of the WSAs and is known for its outstanding geological formations. The weathering of the Leslie Gulch volcanic tuff over time created these fantastic formations. The Honeycombs received its name due to the spherical cavities that dot its cliffs.
Jordan Craters is a 27 square-mile olivine basalt lava flow that is estimated to be between 4,000 and 9,000 years old. They estimated the age by the degree of lichen growth on the rocks. There is also an 18- acre flow within the field that is estimated to be less than 100 years old. There is one area of Jordan Craters that has vehicle access and this is Coffee Pot Crater. This crater is about two-thirds of a square mile and its considered to be a well-preserved, steep-sided crater.
Jordan Valley is one of the largest towns near the Owyhee Canyonlands. It is the town that many of the outlier farmers enter for supplies. This town also has a heavy historical value for Malheur County. Jordan Valley has kept many of their historic buildings including the old jailhouse, and the Ice House. Even some of their businesses are found in historic buildings. One such business is Skinner’s Rockhouse, which is a coffee shop and an ice cream shop.
Pillars of Rome
The Pillars of Rome are stunning rock formations that attract many geology and photography enthusiasts. They stand 100 feet high and measure about five miles long and two miles wide. These unique rock formations received their name because of their similarity to the Roman ruins.
Succor Creek is a State Natural Area along the Idaho border managed by the Oregon State Parks Department. Succor Creek provides fee-free primitive camping. It sits on an unpaved road and has no potable water service. It also has opportunities for picnicking, wildlife viewing, bird watching, and rock hounding.
The North and Middle Forks of the Owyhee join the main stem of the river in this deep, convoluted canyon. All three streams have their headwaters in Idaho wildlands, which just shows that it is necessary to protect the entire Owyhee ecosystem. There are also dry campsites that can be found at this fork in the river. If you camp here, hiking about 2 miles upstream will bring you to some incredible natural hot springs.
West Little Owyhee River/Louse Canyon
The West Little Owyhee River runs 58 miles from its headwaters until it reaches the mainstem above Three Forks. Through the lower part of the river there is an area known as Louse Canyon that is known for its spectacular scenery and makes for a very rugged backpack if you can arrange a shuttle. The West Little Owyhee River today is known for not only its remarkable landscapes but also for unique cultural sites, opportunities for solitude, primitive recreation, and geological features. The upper reaches of the West Little Owyhee is habitat for native trout.