Services, Getting There:
Owyhee is about 30 miles to the east; Elko about 90 miles to the southeast.
Hikes & Trails:
Owyhee Canyon WSA is immediately south
Benchmark pg 34: DeLorme pg 22
Wilderness Area Status
Wilderness Study Area
Managing Agency: Bureau of Land Management
This WSA is a welcome surprise in a region of Nevada otherwise devoid of topography and contrast. While the surrounding sagebrush hills are unique and beautiful, the South Fork Owyhee River Canyon is a sudden and sharp change from the stark desert. This region offers days of hiking and backpacking, beautiful camping, whitewater and river floating, and tons of seclusion. Within the canyon the silence is overwhelming, only broken by the occasional breeze or animal cry. The canyon itself provides incredible isolation and solitude for the adventurous, and is truly a vast and majestic oasis. Throughout most the year, the river is mostly slow moving. Pools and swimming holes aboundt and provide excellent opportunities to cool off in the summer heat. The lush environment of the canyon and soaring rock walls are truly outstanding.
Back from the rim, the canyon is almost invisible and may surprise a visitor with its yawning expanse.
The canyon itself is capped by basalt cliffs, which occasionally have traces of intriguing columnar jointing. In places ancient basalt flows create a stepped canyon with several cliff ledges, but in other parts the canyon is a wide valley. This unique habitat is an ecosystem sheltered from the surrounding desert, and near the canyon bottom life is more diverse. Willows, reeds and other greenery line the river, while fish can occasionally be seen beneath the water. This river also provides drinking water, the lifeblood of many local animals. From the river bottom the canyon walls stretch upward in a majestic display. There are numerous alcoves and places to hike and explore. During the spring months and monsoon events, the river provides recreation opportunities for whitewater enthusiasts as well.
Both rims are home to many antelope, wild horses, jackrabbits, and numerous birds of all varieties. Mule deer graze through the sagebrush steppe along the canyon sides. Although mostly unseen, signs of coyote, mountain lion, and other predators may be found throughout the region. Many birds flock to the canyon cliffs, nesting and hunting within the canyon confines. The sage land has also been noted as an excellent habitat for birds including sage grouse, and indeed leks have been observed here in the past.
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