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Owyhee Uplands Back Country Byway
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"It's different because it's isolated, it's uncrowded and it's beautiful. I like the quiet, I like the solitude. It's become more popular in recent years, but I don't think you could say it's crowded by any measure. And so when you come out here you're likely at least at some points in your journey to be alone to just hear the sounds of nature. It's a very pleasant experience and it's kind of a rare one in modern uh times."
From Jordan Valley, Oregon to Grandview, Idaho this rugged 101 mile route takes you through some of Idaho's most remote country. The Bureau of Land Management is the biggest land owner in the area although there are a number of private ranches. East of Jordan Valley you'll pass through an agricultural ranching area and a number of meadows with lots of wildlife. After some lonely miles and changing topography you reach the byway's only campground on the North Fork of the Owyhee River. The river cuts through a beautiful rhyolite canyon here, giving travelers an idea of what the deeper canyon country south of the byway looks like.
From the campground the road climbs steeply, eventually rising almost 3,000 feet from its low point. Along these higher portions of the road you'll find huge juniper forests and thicker vegetation. Of course in the spring the entire byway can explode with a dazzling display of wildflowers. At about the halfway point along the byway the road crosses Deep Creek; it's one of the major tributaries of the Owyhee River. Not far from Deep Creek is the Pole Creek Wilderness Area, one of six new wilderness areas recently designated in the Owyhee and Bruneau River regions.
Driving further east the landscape changes again. Here the desert is dotted with Mountain Mahogany, an unusual tree not found widely in Idaho. On the east side of the byway the Mud Flat Road begins winding down again to the sagebrush deserts, but there's one last oasis on the way, Poison Creek. It's only the second developed site along the route. East of Poison Creek an observant driver can trace the ancient shoreline of Lake Idaho. In the same vicinity you can also see what's left of the Stonehouse Ranch, a homestead and stage stop that was first settled in 1880. From history to geology to wide open vistas, the Owyhee Uplands Back Country Byway beckon to the adventurous traveler. It's an unforgettable drive through the desert.