OWYHEE Canyonlands

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Honeycombs

The Honeycombs region of the Owyhee Canyonlands is best seen on foot. To experience it, follow these directions to the start of the Painted Canyon Loop.
The road to the Painted Canyon Trailhead is best suited for four-wheel drive vehicles or vigilant Subaru drivers with clearance and wherewithal. This road is not good enough to be traveling after even a quarter inch of rain: Do not leave the road if this is the case.

From I-84, take exit 374 for Highway 201 south. Continue to Nyssa, turning left on Highway 201 south. The highway turns to the east and becomes Highway 19 into Homedale. There, follow the signs and take Highway 95 south. Continue for 18.7 miles to McBride Creek Road. At this point it’s important to restart your odometer. Turn right and follow it for 6.3 miles to Succor Creek Road. Take the first right to stay on Succor Creek Road, and then continue for 6.6 miles to McIntyre Springs Road. Follow the McIntyre Springs Road straight, keeping the scenic Three Fingers Butte on your left until a junction at 5.25 miles. Turn right. Continue for another mile and turn left at another junction. Head another mile and keep left at another fork. Finally after 11 miles, turn left for the final quarter mile to a dilapidated cow trough and your trailhead. Park your vehicle.

From Jordan Valley, take Highway 95 north for 27 miles and turn left at the sign for Succor Creek. Take this road 8.5 miles to a junction at the Rockville School, where you will head left toward Succor Creek. Continue for another 7 miles, passing the turnoff for Leslie Gulch on your left. When you get to the next junction for McIntyre Springs Road, turn left and restart your odometer. Follow the McIntyre Springs Road straight, keeping the scenic Three Fingers Butte on your left until a junction at 5.25 miles. Turn right. Continue for another mile and turn left at another junction. Head another mile and keep left at another fork. Finally after 11 miles, turn left for the final quarter mile to a dilapidated cow trough and your trailhead. Park your vehicle.

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Fish the Owyhee River

From I-84, take exit 374 for Highway 201 south. Continue to Nyssa, then turn left onto Highway 201 south on Adrian Boulevard, following signs for Lake Owyhee. Turn right onto Owyhee Avenue in 8 miles, and then turn left onto Owyhee Lake Road in 4 miles. Continue on along this road as it winds up into canyonlike country along the Owyhee River. The road’s final destination is the Lake Owyhee Reservoir and Lake Owyhee State Park, although fly-anglers will want to stop before then.

From Jordan Valley, take Highway 95 north, weaving back into Idaho. Continue for about 44.5 miles before hitting the T-intersection with Highway 55 in Idaho. Turn left and continue for 5.2 miles until Highway 19, where you’ll turn left to head west. The road curves north and becomes Highway 201. In about 12 miles, turn left onto Overstreet Road. In about 5.3 miles, turn left on Lake Owyhee Road. Continue on along this road as it winds up into canyonlike country along the Owyhee River. The road’s final destination is the Lake Owyhee Reservoir and Lake Owyhee State Park.

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Birch Creek Historical Ranch

From I-84, take exit 3 in Idaho for US-95 toward Payette/Parma. Turn right. Follow Highway 95 south as it crosses the Snake River. In 34 miles, turn right onto Highway 95 heading south instead of driving east toward Marsing. Continue driving south, crossing into Oregon, for 36.4 miles. Then, turn right on Curly Lodge Road. Follow it for 6.9 miles to a T-intersection with Cow Creek Road. Follow it until the third intersection, which is with Lodge Ranch Road on the right. Turn, then continue forward for 2.5 miles and then turn right on Blowout Reservoir Road. Follow that for 12.2 miles to Birch Creek Road. Follow Birch Creek Road for about 5.7 miles to the destination. 

The final descent into Birch Creek is challenging, and one can often meet boat trailers looking to get out along a very narrow road. Use caution and good judgement when dropping the last 3 miles into the ranch in your four-wheel-drive vehicle. Do not attempt it in a passenger car.

From Jordan Valley, head north on Highway 95 for 8 miles and turn west at the sign for Jordan Craters. Follow the BLM Owyhee River access signs 28 miles down into the ranch.

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Succor Creek

From I-84, take exit 374 for Highway 201 south. Continue to Nyssa, turning left for Highway 201 south. Continue on Highway 201 for roughly 33 miles to Succor Creek Road. Turn right. You will arrive in just less than 15 miles.

From Jordan Valley, take Highway 95 north for 27 miles and turn left at the sign for Succor Creek. Take this road 8.5 miles to a T-shaped junction at the Rockville School, where you will head left toward Succor Creek for another 1.8 miles. Stay straight at the junction, then continue the final 10 miles into Succor Creek.

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Leslie Gulch

The nearly 25 miles of gravel dirt road down into Leslie Gulch is navigable by almost all passenger vehicles under dry conditions. Large RVs are best left at home, as negotiating the steep grade with boat traffic can be dicey. Be wary, however, when rain falls, which can cause flash flooding and make the road impossible to navigate except for four-wheel-drive vehicles.

From I-84, take exit 374 for Highway 201 south. Continue to Nyssa, turning left on Highway 201 south. Continue on Highway 201 for roughly 33 miles to Succor Creek Road. Stay on Succor Creek Road, passing the campground, for about 22 miles. Then take a right onto Leslie Gulch Road, which will travel over rolling hills and then down into Leslie Gulch.

From Jordan Valley, take Highway 95 north for 27 miles and turn left at the sign for Succor Creek. Take this road 8.5 miles to a T-shaped junction at the Rockville School, where you will head left toward Succor Creek for another 1.8 miles. Then turn left on the gravel for Leslie Gulch. It descends through stunning rock formations to the Owyhee River roughly 14.5 miles in.

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Chalk Basin

The best way to see Chalk Basin is by either backpacking in or making it a stop on an Owyhee River float. There is a route on significantly rough roads into the area, which should only be attempted in a high-clearance four-wheel-drive vehicle under dry conditions. This road is not good enough to be traveling after even a quarter inch of rain: Do not leave the road if this is the case. There are no services.

From Oregon’s west side, travel through Central Oregon to Highway 20. Continue into Burns, then follow the signs for Highway 78, the Steens Highway. Continue along for just more than 90 miles, then turning east on Highway 95. It’s advisable here to either get gas at the junction of Highways 78 and 95 or to continue to Rome to fill up and then backtrack. In about 8 miles, turn left onto Kiger Road. Follow the road for about 5.9 miles. Then Tub Springs Road will be on your right. Turn, and follow it for about 15.2 miles to your destination.

From Jordan Valley, take Highway 95 west for 37.2 miles to Kiger Road. Turn right, and follow the road for about 5.9 miles. Then Tub Springs Road will be on your right. Turn, and follow it for about 15.2 miles to your destination.

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Jordan Craters

The road into Jordan Craters is best suited for four-wheel-drive vehicles or vigilant Subaru drivers with clearance and wherewithal. This road is not good enough to be traveling after even a quarter inch of rain: Do not leave the road if this is the case.

From I-84, take exit 3 in Idaho for Highway 95 toward Payette/Parma. Turn right. Follow Highway 95 south as it crosses the Snake River. In 34 miles, turn right onto Highway 95 south instead of heading east toward Marsing. Continue driving south, crossing into Oregon, for 36.4 miles. Then, turn right on Curly Lodge Road. Follow it for 6.9 miles to a T-intersection with Cow Creek Road. Follow it until the third intersection, which is with Lodge Ranch Road on the right. Turn, then continue forward for 2.5 miles and then turn right on Blowout Reservoir Road. In 13.7 miles, turn left onto Coffeepot Crater Road. Continue for about 1.4 miles to the destination.

From Jordan Valley, head north on Highway 95 for a little more than 8 miles to a sign for Jordan Craters. Turn left and follow the good gravel road for 11.5 miles to a fork on the road. Keep right. Drive nearly 7 miles to another fork, and go left onto a rougher dirt road. Stay left at another fork in roughly 6 miles. And after about a mile and a half, fork left once again. Drive to the end of the road to a parking area. You will see Coffeepot Crater in front of you.

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Rome Station

From Oregon’s west side, travel through Central Oregon to Highway 20. Continue into Burns, then follow the signs for Highway 78, the Steens Highway. Continue along Highway 78 for just more than 90 miles, turning left to go east on Highway 95. You’ll reach Rome in 12.3 miles.

From Jordan Valley, leave town heading west on Highway 95 for 32.6 miles to Rome.

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Three Forks

The lonely road to Three Forks can be completely unpassable if there is rain. Do not leave the highway under these conditions. If you are driving a passenger vehicle, leave it at the corral on the canyon rim rather than attempting the grade, which is switchbacked, rocky and challenging.

From I-84, take exit 3 in Idaho for Highway 95 toward Payette/Parma. Turn right. Follow HIghway 95 south as it crosses the Snake River. In 34 miles, turn right onto Highway 95 south instead of heading east toward Marsing. Continue driving south, crossing into Oregon, continuing for another 25 miles to Jordan Valley. Then follow the instructions below.

From Jordan Valley, head west along Highway 95 for 16 miles to milepost 36. Turn south at the sign for Three Forks to follow the Soldier Creek Watchable Wildlife Loop. After 28 miles you’ll reach a signed junction. Turn right. Another 2.6 miles and you will reach the canyon rim and a corral. At this point, anyone in a passenger car can hop into a four-wheel-drive vehicle to navigate the challenging grade down into Three Forks.

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West Little Owyhee River

From Oregon’s west side, travel through Central Oregon to Highway 20. Continue into Burns, then follow the signs for Highway 78, the Steens Highway. Continue along for just more than 90 miles, then head south on Highway 95 for 39.5 miles. At this point you’ve reached the turn toward the West Little Owyhee River, but continuing south to McDermitt, Nevada, to get gas once more is highly recommended.

From Burns Junction at the intersection of Highway 78 and 95, head south for 40 miles past mile marker 106. Turn east off the highway to follow the brown sign pointing toward Antelope Flats. 7.47 miles from the highway you will reach Jackson Summit (6,296 feet). Continue on this road until you reach the junction of Pole Creek Road at 16.2 miles. Follow Pole Creek Road south and east for another 4.1 miles to a small creek crossing at Antelope Creek. Stop to make sure that the crossing is shallow enough to cross. After Antelope Creek, you will have approximately 16 miles before reaching the slight downhill to Anderson Crossing. Cross the West Little Owyhee River and proceed left to the primitive campsites.

From Jordan Valley, take Highway 95 west for 45.2 miles to the intersection at Highway 78. Then follow the directions above.

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The Owyhee Canyonlands require preparation, awareness and self-sufficiency. Once you leave the blacktop you will not find services or amenities. Top off your gas tank when leaving gateway communities like Jordan Valley or Rome, and carry a spare gas can.

Driving conditions in the Owyhee can be challenging. Roads are often unmaintained, rocky and rutted. Check each destination write-up for road conditions and advice on clearance and four-wheel drive recommendations. A small amount of precipitation makes the road surface slippery, creating mud buildup that clogs wheel wells and limits travel.

Each vehicle should contain a full-size spare tire, towing straps/chains, a jack, some flat boards, Fix-a-Flat, a lug wrench, jumper cables and a five-gallon water jug.

Your best bet for traveling in the Owyhee Canyonlands is to purchase these two recreation maps from the Bureau of Land Management:
Malheur Canyon Country
Owyhee Canyon Country