Photo by Sean Bagshaw
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It’s hard to think something so grandiose could sneak up on a visitor, but there it is: The rolling sagebrush hills of the Owyhee country suddenly give way to a great chasm. One thousand feet below, through rock boulder fields and stands of juniper, a desert river roils. It’s oft called Oregon’s Grand Canyon, leveler of light and pathway of boats, bighorn and beauty.

From the Owyhee River Overlook, a visitor can comprehend the reasons for protecting such a special place. Congress too has recognized parts of this watershed system, passing a Wild and Scenic River designation in 1984 that extends from rim to rim. But the upland areas that feed into the Owyhee River watershed remain without a wilderness or national monument designation — the permanent protection the dramatic vistas and rolling hills of the Owyhee Canyonlands so rightfully deserve.