North Fork Owyhee Wilderness

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North Fork Owyhee Wilderness
IUCN category Ib (wilderness area)
North Fork Owyhee.jpg
Map showing the location of North Fork Owyhee Wilderness
Map showing the location of North Fork Owyhee Wilderness
LocationOwyhee County, Idaho, USA
Nearest cityBoise, Idaho
Coordinates42°40′26″N 116°45′33″W / 42.67389°N 116.75917°W / 42.67389; -116.75917Coordinates: 42°40′26″N 116°45′33″W / 42.67389°N 116.75917°W / 42.67389; -116.75917
Area43,413 acres (17,569 ha)
Governing bodyBureau of Land Management

The North Fork Owyhee Wilderness is on the high basalt plateaus of Owyhee County in southwestern Idaho in the western United States.[1][2][3] The rivers within it offer whitewater rapids up to Class IV.[2] The upper 20.8 miles (33.5 km) of the North Fork Owyhee River, from the Idaho–Oregon border to the upstream boundary of the wilderness, are part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Of this total, 15.1 miles (24.3 km) are classified as wild and the remaining 5.7 miles (9.2 km) are classified "recreational".[4]


The North Fork Owyhee Wilderness has canyons over 1,000 feet (300 m) deep, sagebrush, and grassland plateaus. These canyons in Owyhee County have been called "the largest concentration of sheer-walled volcanic rhyolite and basalt canyons in the western United States".[1][5]

Legislative history[edit]

The North Fork Owyhee Wilderness was created by the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 and signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 30, 2009. Also created in the Omnibus Land Act were five additional southwestern Idaho wilderness areas in Owyhee County, collectively known as the Owyhee Canyonlands Wilderness Areas:[6][7]

The Act of 2009 added 517,025 acres (209,233 ha) of wilderness within the state of Idaho.[6][7]

Wilderness areas do not allow motorized or mechanical equipment including bicycles. Although camping and fishing are allowed with proper permit, no roads or buildings are constructed and there is also no logging or mining, in compliance with the 1964 Wilderness Act. Wilderness areas within National Forests and Bureau of Land Management areas also allow hunting in season.[8][9]

Natural history[edit]

The North Fork Owyhee Wilderness lies within the Owyhee Desert, part of the northern Basin and Range ecoregion, although hydrologically the wilderness area is within the Snake RiverColumbia River drainage.[1][10] The area is home to mule deer, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, sage grouse, hawks, eagles, falcons, plus many songbirds, as well as numerous rare plants.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "North Fork Owyhee Wilderness - General". Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  2. ^ a b "North Fork Owyhee Wilderness, Idaho". Public Lands. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  3. ^ "North Fork Owyhee Wilderness" (PDF). Bureau of Land Management. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  4. ^ "Owyhee River (North Fork), Idaho". National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Retrieved November 21, 2015.
  5. ^ "Map of North Fork Owyhee and Pole Creek Wilderness" (PDF). Bureau of Land Management. Retrieved July 11, 2011.
  6. ^ a b "Owyhee Canyonlands Wilderness Areas". Bureau of Land Management. Archived from the original on October 24, 2011. Retrieved July 10, 2011.
  7. ^ a b "Owyhee Canyonlands Wilderness". Idaho Public TV. Retrieved July 10, 2011.
  8. ^ "Forestwide Standards and Guidelines" (PDF). United States Forest Service. Retrieved July 10, 2011.
  9. ^ "North Fork Owyhee Wilderness - Area Management". Retrieved July 12, 2011.
  10. ^  This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Geological Survey document: McGrath, C.L., Woods, A.J., Omernik, J.M.; et al. "Ecoregions of Idaho" (PDF).CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) (color poster with map, descriptive text, summary tables, and photographs; with a Reverse side).

External links[edit]