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Honeycombs Wilderness Study Area Weekend

Discover out of the way adventure in the Owyhee Canyonlands! Rugged and breath-taking, the canyons and geological formations in the Honeycombs WSA delight the eye. Our hike through Painted Canyon will be a picturesque journey through a red rock maze.
When Sep 13, 2012 06:30 PM to
Sep 16, 2012 04:00 PM
Where Owyhee Canyonlands
Contact Name
Contact Phone (541) 709-1576
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The northern reaches of the Owyhee Canyonlands offer the best opportunities to see colorful rock formations and relatively intact ecological systems at work.  Unlike many of the vast areas down south, the dry gulches on the west side of the reservoir captivate hikers, birdwatchers, native plant enthusiasts and climbers.  Towering ash formations and large changes in elevation have made secluded places like Carleton Canyon and Painted Canyon favorites of in-the-know locals for years.   Hawks, golden eagles and falcons circle above.  Elusive California bighorn sheep dot distant ridgelines and the rocks underfoot change color with each passing step.

Protected as a Wilderness Study Area since the early 1980's, the Honeycombs area allows a hiker to glimpse back in time to when settlers first set foot in the Great Basin.  The deepest parts of Painted Canyon require passing through old growth sagebrush-- some more than six feet in height-- and through unnamed side canyons ripe for exploration.  Motorized recreation has largely been kept on the perimeter of the WSA, and areas such as the Sheepsheads and Juniper Ridge give a lasting sense of tranquility and remoteness to the outside world.  Few desert landscapes offer the challenge of topographic relief and the endless maze of canyons that this area provides.

ONDA's Owyhee Canyonlands campaign recognizes the incredible recreational importance of the Honeycombs area and has included it in our Wilderness proposal.  The area contains unparalleled opportunities to view geological oddities, rare plant species, and experience the landscape at an intimate level.  We hope that bringing more supporters to the area will inspire future generations to work for permanent and sustained protection of the entire Owyhee.

HERE is a map showing Succor Creek State Park Campsite.


The spectacular rock face in Painted Canyon (c) Chris Hansen

The spectacular rock face in Painted Canyon (c) Chris Hansen


  • September 13th, Thursday 6:30 PM.  Meet at the Succor Creek State Park just east of the Honeycombs to set up camp, introduce one another, and arrange travel plans for traversing the 4WD roads for the following days.
  • September 14th, Friday 8AM.  Drive to the head of Painted Canyon (an adventure in itself!).
  • September 14th, Friday, all day.  Hike and scramble the 11-mile loop down Painted Canyon and back up Carleton Canyon.  We will break at the confluence of the two canyons for lunch and return to the vehicles by 6PM.
  • September 15th, Saturday, 8AM-6PM.  Drive the 4WD roads to the head of Three Fingers Gulch and then hike 5 miles up and back in the Three Fingers Gulch drainage.
  • September 16th, Sunday, 8AM.  Take a vote as to which hike the group prefers to embark on: the summit of Three Fingers Rock, Juniper Gulch, or the Sheepsheads.  Arrive back at the Succor Creek State Park by 3PM to disassemble camp.
  • September 16, 4PM.  Break down camp and car train back to the paved roads.


Photos from these trips are essential to spreading the word about what the Owyhee Canyonlands campaign is all about, and are a great help in grant applications: please bring your cameras and take lots of photos to share with us and the other folks on the trip!  Other than that your job is to fall in love with the area, soak it all in, and get inspired to help us protect this area for current and future generations to enjoy!


2012 ODT owyhee hike description

Painted Canyon: Traversing the terrain in the Honeycombs is not always straightforward.


Succor Creek State Park is a primitive camping area with plenty of available sites on the western and eastern sides of Succor Creek.  Most of the areas to pitch a tent will be within a short walk to your vehicle, and we will be convening at a central location at a picnic table for the fire and cooking.  There is one outhouse and a number of picnic tables, but no potable water.


4 out of 5.  This trip is nearly a five.  Although the hikes are just day-hikes, they cover extremely challenging terrain: all of it off trail.  In many spots participants will need to scramble using hands for balance, jump from boulders, or walk on loose rocks on off-angle valley sides.  The Painted Canyon hike in particular (11 miles), will be long.  Elevation gain and loss on many of the hikes is notable.

Challenging roads test the nerve of the most seasoned desert rat.  Camping area is well established and participants can bring many extras with them in their car. Click HERE for a description of the trip difficulty rating system.


Participants are required to have (or arrange for a ride in) a high-clearance 4-wheel-drive vehicle in good working order for this trip.  The vehicle should have a full-size spare tire, towing straps/chains, jack, and board for the jack, fix-a-flat, lug wrench, and jumper cables.

Driving conditions in the Owyhee are extremely challenging.  Roads are often unmaintained, rocky, and rutted.  A small amount of precipitation makes the road surface slippery and creates a mud buildup that clogs wheel wells and limits travel.

Participants are responsible for their own food as well as transportation to and from the trip.

Participants will need their own tent or the ability to sleep in their cars; a sleeping pad, sleeping bag, cookware, stove, lanterns and headlamps are also required.

Sturdy off trail ankle-high boots are recommended for this trip, along with a proper hiking stick or poles.

A full packing list will be provided to participants 3 weeks before the trip.


Walking through Juniper Gulch (c) Chris Hansen

Walking through Juniper Gulch (c) Chris Hansen

GPS units
SPOT emergency beacon (for medical or logistic emergencies only)
First aid kit
Stove and extra propane canisters
Potable Water


This trip is led by ONDA's Owyhee Canyonlands Coordinator:
Chris Hansen 
Group size is limited to 14 members
Trip cost is: free for ONDA members


An ONDA registration application and medical form is required for this trip. Click HERE for the form.  You only need to fill this form out once per year: You can join additional 2012 trips by e-mailing the trip leader directly.

You will receive a confirmation e-mail within 10 working days of submitting your form.  The confirmation e-mail will provide information regarding which trips you are on the "participant list" for, and which trips are full, and therefore you have been placed on the "wait list".  Five weeks before the start of the trip, the trip leader will send out an RSVP to make sure everyone is still able to participate. Based on RSVPs open spaces will be backfilled with people from the wait list.  Three weeks before the trip begins, the trip leader will send out an e-mail with additional information, maps, driving instructions, car-pooling options etc. However, if you have any questions in the meantime, please don't hesitate to contact the trip leader.

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Oregon Natural Desert Association
50 SW Bond Street, Suite 4,
Bend, OR 97702
Tel: (541) 330-2638

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