Top Place: Owyhee Canyonlands

Owyhee Canyonlands in Idaho
John McCarthy
The Owyhee provides home to diverse, native fish and wildlife species, including bighorn sheep, sage grouse and red band trout.

Experience the Owyhee Canyonlands

The Owyhee Canyonlands span southwest Idaho, southeast Oregon and northeast Nevada. They are among the most remote areas of the continental United States. Sagebrush and juniper cover the dry desert grounds, which rise up into beautiful mountains, hoodoos (tall thin rock formations), natural arches and river canyons. In the spring, parts of the Owyhee Canyonlands are blanketed by yellow camas blooms.

In a world where escaping hectic urban life gets tougher by the day, the Owyhee Canyonlands still provide visitors quiet backcountry journeys into the wild.

And, thanks to recent wilderness legislation, we’ll be able to enjoy the canyonlands’ wild maze of plateaus and canyons for generations. Congress gave Owyhee Canyonlands wilderness protection in 2009.

What are some of the best things about the Owyhee Canyonlands?

Their otherworldly character.

The Owyhee Canyonlands are an icon of the old American west. When you visit, you can roam the “high lonesome” on wide-open country — there are few marked trails. Stepping out into the Owyhee Canyonlands is like stepping back into history and experiencing the raw landscape that defined the rugged west.

In addition to the 517,000 acres of protected wilderness, the canyonlands also offer visitors:

  • 316 miles of wild and scenic rivers
  • The last rare clusters of elk and bighorn sheep found in the rugged high desert

What’s one activity the Owyhee Canyonlands are known for?

Off-trail hiking.

The 104 mile-long Owyhee Uplands Back Country Byway delivers you to the doorstep of three beautiful wilderness areas:

  • Pole Creek Wilderness
  • Little Jacks Creek
  • The North Fork of the Owyhee Wilderness

There are so many backcountry journeys to experience in the Owyhee Canyonlands. Visitors need just to grab a map and go.

Interested in backcountry journeys? Get insider tips.

What’s one way The Wilderness Society is working to protect the Owyhee Canyonlands?

By helping local landowners, ranchers and the Bureau of Land Management craft the best wilderness protections.

These protections include:

  • Recovering the habitat of sage-grouse birds
  • Better grazing practices
  • Protecting prairie falcon and mountain lion habitat

Learn more about our work in the Owyhee Canyonlands.

Helpful links

  • Bureau of Land Management:

http://www.blm.gov/id/st/en/prog/blm_special_areas/owyhee_initiative.html

  • Summit Post:

http://www.summitpost.org/owyhee-mountains/172850