Rock hounding off of Alder Creek Road south or Oreana, Idaho promised to be epic. Or so I thought. While the rock hounding wasn't great, the scenery, sense of exploration and future possibilities made this trip rather great. In the 5.5 hours we were out in the desert, the sounds of a helicopter(s) off to the southwest for most of the day and the one truck we passed made it feel downright crowded out there.
Pushing Further South Than Ever Before
This trip, on a warm Sunday November 10, 2013, started just off the Oreana Loop Road around 12:00 pm. During our trip (click here to read about it) in this same area on Oct 27th, 2013 we only made it about 4.5 miles into the Owyhee Front due to the cool stuff we found. On this trip, we decided to head further south and get more into what I'll call the old mining district of Castle Creek.
Rocks Change and Change Again
The mixed-up cobble rocks of the first 4 miles we saw during our last trip gradually changed to a more white quartz based environment at the 5 mile point. The change was easy to see even while riding on an ATV. As a matter of fact, there were places where the shear amount and coverage of bright white quartz was pretty darn impressive.
We stopped for lunch, which was just a good excuse to rock hound, at the area where thick veins of the white quartz intersperse with pyrite/mica crossed the road. While impressive looking, we found no real keepers during the walk up to the ridge to our west. But the views from up there were quite nice.
By the time we got to the intersection of road and C701 and C707 down into Spiry Place, the rocks changed back to a more cobbly mix of 'leaverite' and much less white quartz. We continued on C701 to the southwest and down into the Alder Creek canyon. I'm beginning to think the buildings we discovered at the end of the road (for us) are old 1920's mining buildings. If anyone knows, be sure to drop me a line...Please.
The Old Mining District of Castle Creek
The mining district, as seen on our topo maps, was our real goal for the day. We figured there might be some cool rocks, gems and crystals to be had in this general area. And if we could stay off “claimed and private lands”, we might come home with some excellent rocks.
We searched low and high, wide and deep but couldn't find any really cool rocks. We searched around old mine tailings, new tailings, streambeds, ridgetops and everywhere else where the topo maps showed mines and old prospects. About the only thing we brought home from this area was one question.
What the heck were these miners seeing that made them dig deep into the dirt?
The Adventure Scorecard - 5 Stars or Worse
- Remoteness: 4 Stars - While less than 15 miles from the town of Oreana, this is a remote place.
- Beauty: 3 Stars
- Cleanliness of Our Lands: 2 Stars - lots of cow patties but human trash was all focused on the roadside for the most part.
- Rock Hounding: 3 Stars but the promise of a 5 star location could be just over the next hillside. Frustration!
- Wildlife: 2 Star - Birds, a snake and a few rabbits were seen on this trip.
- Overall Score: 3 Stars
View a map of the area at: http://www.acme.com/mapper/?ll=42.93481,-116.42212&z=13&t=T
View some more photos at: https://picasaweb.google.com/112532322025941965882/20131110?authuser=0&feat=directlink (may not be accessible to everyone at all times...sorry)
This is my Life Off Interstate 84 in Mountain Home, Idaho
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