Get to Know the Owyhee River

Greg Shine, BLM

One of Oregon’s 58 officially designated Wild and Scenic Rivers.

Located in southeastern Oregon and reaching across the corner of Idaho to its headwaters in northeastern Nevada, 35 percent of the Owyhee River within Oregon has been classified as “Wild and Scenic” for its recreational, wildlife, geologic and cultural values.

West Little Owyhee Canyon, Oregon

Cutting through benches of the Owyhee Canyonlands formed by volcanic activity and erosion in the remote and primitive environment of southeastern Oregon, the river has served as an oasis for people and wildlife since prehistoric times. Indigenous people have inhabited and used the Owyhee for millennia and archaeologists have recorded hundreds of sites with cultural importance in the region.

Today, the Owyhee Canyonlands provide home for a variety of raptors. Swainson’s, ferruginous, red-tailed and sharp-shinned hawks, as well as American kestrels, northern harriers, prairie falcon and golden eagles are abundant year-round while bald eagles generally spend winter months in the canyons. Songbirds, mourning doves, chukar partridge, California quail and even the greater sage-grouse are drawn to the mixed sagebrush along the upland banks of the river.

Owyhee River, Oregon

Mammals range in size from California bighorn sheep, mule deer, pronghorn antelopes, bobcats and cougars to smaller coyotes, badgers, otters, raccoons, porcupines, and jack and cotton-tail rabbits. The presence of these species and others keep the Owyhee River wild and scenic and now draw in visitors who want to behold them and their majestic home.

Visiting the Owyhee River offers outstanding recreation all around. Photography, rafting, kayaking, hiking, nature study, fishing and camping are just some of your options. The area is scenic and unspoiled, offering white waters and serene calmer pools, mysterious side canyons and towering spires.

 

By Kelly Sprague

fact

Bobcat

Bobcat

Found only in North America, where it is the most common wildcat, the bobcat takes its common name from its stubby, or “bobbed,” tail. The cats range in length from two to four feet and weigh 14 to 29 pounds. Bobcats mainly hunt rabbits and hares, but they will also eat rodents, birds, bats, and even adult deer.

Latin name: Lynx rufus fasciatus

 

voices

Helen Harbin, ONDA Board Member

Helen Harbin, ONDA Board Member

“I connect with Oregon’s high desert through my feet, my eyes, my sense of smell, and all the things I hear. Getting out there is a whole body experience.” Supporting ONDA, Helen says, not only connects her with wild landscapes, but is also a good investment. “I felt like if I gave them $20, they might squeeze $23 out of it.”

voices

Durlin Hicock, Alice Elshoff Award winner

Durlin Hicock, Alice Elshoff Award winner

“Protecting public land is part of my spiritual being. It’s central to my identity to be in wilderness and to see it protected.” Durlin is proud to protect public lands for future generations, saying, “The highlight of my childhood was our family’s weekend outdoor trips. I look forward to my grandchildren having similar experiences outside in their lifetimes, and it wouldn’t be possible without ONDA.”