The Pole Creek Wilderness Area is BLM managed land covering twelve thousand acres between the rural communities of Triangle and Dickshooter in Idaho. The wilderness is a contrasting landscape of elevated plateaus and steep-sided canyons. The wilderness gorges carry the swift-flowing waters of Pole Creek and several other waterways that run down through Owyhee County into the neighboring state of Oregon and into the Owyhee Canyonlands. Part of the Owyhee Desert region, Pole Creek Wilderness has sparse vegetation amounting to no more than a scattering of sagebrush and widely disperses pine trees. That said, it is still a ruggedly scenic place.
There are no defined hiking trails in the Pole Creek Wilderness, but it's a great spot to enjoy outback hiking in complete tranquility. Horse riders will love guiding their mount over the level ground of the plateaus. Animal and birdlife are abundant in the wilderness, so there's no shortage of something to see or photograph. The stark scenery makes excellent photographic subjects too. If you're a big raptor fan you'll find the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey State Park within a short driving distance.
After they've finished exploring the Pole Creek Wilderness, lovers of history will find plenty to keep them interested. There's a fascinating Wild West museum in Grand View and the historic mining town of Silver City is nearby. Aviation addicts won't want to miss visiting the Warhawk Air Museum in Nampa. There are also some good wineries in Nampa where you can stop off for a tour of the vineyards and some tasting.
The Pole Creek Wilderness is isolated but reasonably accessible. To get there you'll need to head to Grand View which is midway between the Bruneau Dunes State Park and Oreana on the ID 78. Just outside of Grand View you'll come across the junction with Mud Flat Road. Take this road as it winds across the countryside for about forty-five miles until it reaches the wilderness boundary. On the way, you'll be able to stop off at the Shoofly Oolite, an unusual rock formation. Mud Flat Road also passes by the borders of the Little Jacks Creek Wilderness which is another BLM managed property.
Anyone who has been in the north of the state RV camping in the Payette National Forest will need to join the US 95 southbound in New Meadows. From there it's around a three and a half hour drive to Grand View and another hour to the wilderness. If you're heading to the wilderness after camping out in the Black Rock Desert High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area, after you've joined the US 95 northbound near Sulphur in Nevada, expect to be behind the wheel of your rig for about seven hours.
There is a small parking area and a ranger kiosk located at the entrance to the wilderness.
The campground at the Bruneau Dunes State Park is one of the closest to the Pole Creek Wilderness Area. The park is about thirty miles east of Grand View along the ID 78. The campground operates all year on a first-come-first-served basis although reservations can be made prior to arrival via the Idaho State Parks website.
There are over one hundred campsites at the Bruneau Dunes Campground distributed around several loops in grass and sand-covered fields. The campsites are fitted with water and electricity hook-ups. The electricity functions for twelve months of the year but the water is only switched on from mid-spring to late fall. Exact dates may vary depending on the weather conditions.
Amenities at the campground are basic but there are showers and flush toilets plus a visitor center where you can hire a sandboard if you need one. Pets are welcome but must remain leashed inside the park boundaries.
The lack of defined trails in the Pole Creek Wilderness means all hiking is go-where-you-like backcountry trekking. The terrain is rocky in places and intercut by massive, uncrossable canyons. It's the sort of landscape that when you hike through it will make you feel small and insignificant - as well as alone as you're unlikely to see many other hikers while you're out there. Go prepared with lots of water and provisions in your backpack and a compass or navigating app on your cell phone.
One unmissable sight when you're in the Pole Creek Wilderness Area is the tallest sand dune in the United States. In the Bruneau Dune State Park, you can admire from a distance, hike over it or sand board down the dune which is almost five hundred feet high. In the park there's also a night sky observatory for stargazing and lakes for fishing. The campground of the Bruneau Dunes State Park is one of the most conveniently located for visiting the wilderness.
Silver City is an intact ghost town not far from the Pole Creek Wilderness. Managed by the BLM, Silver City is on the National Register of Historic Places and has more than seventy of the original buildings still standing.
Founded as a mining town, Silver City's prosperous years came to an end with the depletion of gold and silver at the start of the 20th century. There are a few small businesses operating in the town mostly focused on offering services to the visitors who go to take a look around.
Mud Flat Road that leads to the Pole Creek Wilderness is also known as the Owyhee Back Country Byway. The road is gravel-surfaced, just a bit wider than a single lane and runs for over a hundred miles through Idaho and into Oregon.
There are no services on the byway and very little cell phone coverage, so it's essential to carry a spare tire and extra gas as well as drinks and food. There are places along the route where you can pull up to take photos, enjoy a picnic and marvel at the views.
Stop off in Grand View for a visit to the Lawson's Emu-Z-Um. While it may have a strange name, it's full of fascinating exhibits and artifacts relating to the area and the pioneering days. The museum has collections dating from the 1800s to the present day varying between farming and mining equipment, old vehicles and kitchen equipment to name just a few items.
The museum opens from March to September from Friday to Sunday all day. On Mondays to Thursdays and from October to February, visits can be arranged by appointment only.
The Warhawk Aviation Museum is a museum in Nampa dedicated to the history of the airplane and houses many examples of planes as well as memorabilia from WW1, WW2, Korea, and Vietnam.
Stroll through the spacious hangers between such distinctive flying machines as the Kittyhawk, Mig 17, Fokker or Sabre Jet. The museum opens six days a week and is closed on Mondays.