Finally did the deed. Bought a 4-wheeler so we can explore Idaho a littler easier and we did some exploring on May 9th, 2009. Our destination was the Owyhee Desert/Mountains south of Grand View Idaho. It's hard to actually tell you the name of gateway we took to get into the mountains as the names seem to change with each mapping service I use. Today, I will use the "Castle Creek Road" name but it is the same road we took on April 19th highlighted at this link . http://bondyweb.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=214&Itemid=1. I called the road Birch Creek or Pixley Creek back then.
ATV Explanation and Disclaimer First
I bought my ATV strictly to explore. Explore the parts of Idaho that are rather difficult to get into without hours or even days of hiking or biking. To me, exploring on an ATV means staying on dirt roads wide enough to accommodate my 50 inch ATV wheel base without driving over vegetation. I'm not out there to set speed records or kick up a huge dusty rooster tail. In short, the less noise and impact on the land, animals, plants and people the more happy I am. BUT...I refuse to live in my new home State of Idaho without exploring every possible place before I die. If you don't like the idea of the use ATV's, please bite your tongue.
We unloaded the ATV near the intersection of the Poison Creek Cutoff Road and Castle Creek Road....all gravel/dirt roads, around 11:40AM. We headed southwest into the mountains. There were lots of cattle along the first 3-5 miles but that just allowed us to keep our speeds down to single digit speeds and enjoy the greening up desert mountains. We encountered a group of 3 motorcyclist who were just heading out of this shallow canyon road.
As we approached the Pixley Creek Basin, we encounter two closed gates on the road that we promptly open and closed behind us. The first gate was a little annoying? Private Property writing on the fence and gate made us wonder if we were legally entitle to travel on this road. I suspect we have the legal rights and if we do, the sign really is just a ranchers way of trying to fool people into not using the road? I'll be calling the Owyhee County Sheriff on this one.
Once through the gates we started heading south, deeper into this magical place. The road is just as rough and rutted at it was back in April. All things considered, I wouldn't take a car or truck on this road unless it was completely necessary or you don't care about beating the hell out of it. There were great views at almost every turn of the road. We stopped quite often to look around and enjoy this wonderful part of the world.
One particular beautiful spot is the road heading west towards Portland Gulch. The road is rather rough even for an ATV but going slow and steady was rewarded by the views of the snowcapped Owyhee Mountains in the background and Black Butte in the foreground. It was right about this part of the road we met another group of 2 motorcyclist. They waved as they slowly passed by us. These would be the last humans we would see until we were most of the way down Mud Flat Road in our truck 4 hours later.
We continued heading south and entered an unnamed gulch that had a small grove of juniper tree's. I understand this type/species of tree is having a hard time surviving out here. It would be a shame to lose these cool tree's so I hope all interested parties that recreate or work in this harsh country do what they can to not accelerate their decline.
At the 20 mile point we decided we needed head back even though our planned turn around point was still about 5 miles down the road. With a brand new ATV, I'm not sure what type of gas mileage we get and we were not use to the rocking, rolling and beating one experiences on an ATV. We turned around and got back to the truck around 5:30PM.
Overall, I think our new ATV will open up a whole new world to us. And this first trip into the Owyhee's was a great experience. We are already looking at other places to explore both north and south of Mountain Home. We still have a great deal to learn about Idaho and our new ATV. We will slowly learn much more about both items in the coming weeks, months and years.
Rock Hounding in This Area
I've been told there are a lot of mining claims out in the Owyhee Desert/Mountains. I suspect most people think of the Silver City area when they speak of mining claims. I doubt there are many active claims along the route we traveled.
All in all, we found many cool rocks along the roads we traveled. There is plenty of cool quartz type rock out here and small plots of poor quality opals. With more in-depth hounding I'm sure we will find even better and different "specimens" of rocks. We'll keep our "eyes peeled" for other cool rocks the next time we visit this area.
View Larger Map
Details of Trip:
Date: 9 May 2009
Photographers: Tim and Toni Bondy from Mountain Home, Idaho
Distance Traveled: About 40 miles - an out and back trip
Fun Factor: High
Scenic Factor: High
Exploration Factor: Very High
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