Owyhee Uplands Backcountry Byway

Trying to escape the crowds while you spend time on #YourPublicLands? Follow along with us as we uncover some of Idaho’s lesser-know recreation sites aka Hidden Gems!

Fall colors surround a scenic canyon and creek

Tucked into the folds of the south western Idaho desert is a 103-mile gravel road dubbed the Owyhee Uplands Backcountry Byway, ripe for adventure and a great place to experience some of Idaho’s most remote landscapes. You can access the Owyhee Uplands Backcountry Byway Guide.

Sagebrush and juniper ecosystems give way to winding rivers and rugged canyons, providing habitat for animals like the greater sage grouse, red band trout, mountain blue bird and much more. From west to east, the byway runs from Jordan Valley, Oregon to Grand View, Idaho through mostly gentle rolling terrain with pitches of up to 12% grade in some places. While most passenger vehicles can handle this drive, caution should be used if conditions make the road slick or muddy. Late summer and early fall are the best times to take a trip along the byway which is usually impassable from November to April due to snow.

Starry night over mountains and water

There will be no shortage of amazing things to see and do along the Owyhee Uplands Backcountry Byway. As part of the homeland of the Shoshone, Bannock and Paiute Tribes for over 10,000 years before the arrival of early settlers, the history of this landscape is evident in every canyon, ridge and stream. Even the vegetation and wildlife tell the story of this place and the people that have made their way of life in it. You will have plenty of opportunities to learn about the history of the landscape at the many interpretive sites along the way.

Make unforgettable memories by stopping to take in the sights and sounds around you, spotting wildlife and identifying native vegetation. Take a hike, have a picnic, go fishing, see awe inspiring rock formations and homestead remains and much more as you enjoy the open road. From the byway, other primitive routes provide access to 517,000 acres of designated wilderness, collectively and informally known as the Owyhee Canyonlands Wilderness Areas, and sixteen Wild and Scenic River segments totaling 324.5 miles.

To ensure a great adventure, be sure to plan ahead and be prepared. There are limited services at the eastern and western terminus of the byway but no services along the way, so make sure you bring plenty of food, water, gasoline, a spare tire and a map. Practice #LeaveNoTrace principles, and pack out all of your trash.

Many parcels of private land are located along the Byway. Please respect private property by having the right maps and equipment to avoid trespassing. Take a Surface Management Status Map which are available at your local BLM office and featured in the Owyhee Uplands Backcountry Byway Guide.

Dog runs around in the Idaho sagebrush

Starting about 80 miles from Boise, the entire byway can be traveled in a day, or you can choose the take your time and camp at the North Fork Recreation Site. Start planning for the trip on a lifetime by checking out the guidebook.   

Get maps of the area on the BLM Website

As always, #KnowBeforeYouGo.

Three visitors hike along a trail through the sagebrush