North Fork Owyhee Wilderness
Guide

Introduction

North Fork Owyhee Wilderness consists of canyons deeper than 1,000 feet, vast expanses of sagebrush and grassland plateaus, and the Owyhee River System, all of which make the park a premier spot for recreation and nature observation. Located 80 miles southwest of Boise, Idaho, this Bureau of Land Management park can be accessed by a number of local dirt roads that branch of Interstate 95 and US Highway 75. High clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended.

Opportunities for recreation abound at this BLM land, ranging from water-based activities such as boating and rafting for skilled enthusiasts, to flora and nature observation, wildlife and bird viewing, hiking, and fishing. Rock climbing and horseback riding are some other ways to stay active within the park. Additional recreation opportunities are available at Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area and Sawtooth National Forest. The Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey is a popular destination for visitors at this BLM wilderness.

Free camping and RV camping opportunities are available close to this BLM park in a semi-developed campground that has amenities such as vault toilets, picnic tables, and fire grills. More modern camping options are provided at Sawtooth National Forest.

RV Rentals in North Fork Owyhee Wilderness

Transportation

Driving

North Fork Owyhee Wilderness lies 80 miles southwest of Boise, Idaho. The closest highways to the wilderness are US Highway 78 and Interstate 95. Mud Flat Road (also known as the Owyhee Uplands Backcountry Byway) branches off these major highways leading to areas from where the wilderness can be reached by dirt roads and local access roads. If you plan to drive to this BLM wilderness in Idaho, your choice of vehicles should be high clearance, four-wheel drives that will enable you to negotiate, with ease, the rough sections of the road without damage to your vehicle.

Within the wilderness areas, the use of motorized vehicles and equipment is prohibited. Therefore, as you approach the wilderness boundary, be on the lookout for signage indicating spots to park or places where the road is closed. You will find places where you can park your vehicle before you continue the rest of your adventure on foot or on your horse. Wheelchairs are allowed within the wilderness.

There are no direct public transportation services to North Fork Owyhee Wilderness.

If you require RV rental services for developed camping nearby, you will find equipment available at Mountain Home and Buhl.

Parking

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in North Fork Owyhee Wilderness

Campsites in North Fork Owyhee Wilderness

First-come first-served

North Fork Campground

North Fork Campground is a semi-developed BLM campground located about 30 miles south of Jordan Valley on the Owyhee Uplands Backcountry Byway. This scenic campground, situated on the North Fork Owyhee River, sits next to tall rock pinnacles and rims and offers opportunities for hiking, relaxing, picnicking and fishing,

There are seven free campsites available in the campground that can accommodate small tents and large RVs. Each of the campsites features a fire ring, cooking grill and concrete pad with picnic table. Vault toilets are also provided, but no potable water is available, so come along with your own water.

The campsites are available on first-come, first-served basis only.

Seasonal activities in North Fork Owyhee Wilderness

Off-Season

Boating

The North Fork of the Owyhee River is great for water-based recreation. The river, which begins in the Owyhee Mountains, flows through this Bureau of Land Management property in Idaho, presenting visitors and campers with unique opportunities to enjoy activities such as boating and rafting.

The river carves a deep canyon through the wilderness and flows into a gorge. If you wish to boat or raft on the river, you should be experienced. The water has some blind spots where logs can pose problems.

Sightseeing

Nature observation and sightseeing are popular activities at North Fork Owyhee Wilderness, thanks to the amazing landscapes and natural features within the park. As you approach the park, you will see diverse landscapes such as river canyons 1000 feet deep, grassland and sagebrush plateaus that extend for miles, and many more. In addition, the elevations in the wilderness that rise up to 6,800 feet provide rock climbers with opportunities to view the vast surrounding areas of the wilderness.

Fishing

Fishermen always fancy a trip to North Fork Owyhee Wilderness because of the amazing fishing opportunities that are open to those who fancy the sport. The river system in the park is home to sensitive redband trout populations that are commonly caught by anglers.

Anglers are advised to pay attention to the nature of river flow as it affects the availability of fish species within the river. Low flows prevalent in summer and early fall support the most fish survival in the river, so this season is best for angling in the wilderness.

In-Season

Flora

North Fork Owyhee Wilderness features steep canyon walls, rock crevices and boulder fields along the Owyhee River, which serves as unique habitats for plant communities. Several rare flora species occupy some of these habitats, an example of which is the Bruneau River phlox.

Owyhee River is home to another rare plant called the Owyhee River forget-me-not, which cannot be found anywhere else but within this river system. If you visit the wilderness is May and June, you will see this flower in full bloom. Other flora species present include red alumroot, snowberry, and desert gooseberry.

Fauna

North Fork Owyhee Wilderness features an ecosystem that is home to a wide variety of wildlife, presenting fascinating viewing and photography opportunities for visitors and campers. Deep canyons that bisect the sagebrush plateaus of the Owyhee Uplands are home to more than 200 wildlife species.

As you explore the park, look out for sagebrush, songbirds, bighorn sheep, raptors and antelopes. Don’t be surprised to see American badger, cotton-tail rabbits, sage thrasher and many other reptile species roaming the park also.

Hiking

The North Fork Owyhee River Hike offers lovers of hiking the chance to explore the river system within this Bureau of Land Management park in Idaho. As you gear up for the adventure, be prepared for a difficult and strenuous adventure along a 3.5 mile roundtrip trail. Elevation loss along the trail is 430 feet and the trailhead can be accessed by high clearance vehicles. You will see old growth juniper trees along the trail and also views prairie falcons, golden eagles and red-tailed hawks soaring above.