Mountain Home, ID: Owyhee Meanders

Crane your neck at an ultra-secluded, towering Idaho canyon.
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Crane your neck at an ultra-secluded, towering Idaho canyon.

The canyons of the Owyhee River are among the most remote wildlands in the lower 48, protected from the crowds by hundreds of miles of desert and truly awful access roads. This moderate 7-mile out-and-back is one of the few hikes reachable by ordinary passenger cars—hike it in late April, and you’ll have the explosion of blooming lupine, desert parsley, and phlox all to yourself. From the trailhead, follow an old jeep track north to an isolated boat launch with striking views of the red and black basalt canyon walls. Hike back up and trace the rim downstream for 2.5 miles, passing through open sagebrush to reach a breathtaking view of the Meanders—a twisting, 500-foot canyon formed when the land around the looping Owyhee was uplifted. Scramble down a steep incline to the river at a marshy area known as the Tules to scope for bighorn sheep (and watch out for rattlers) and scout out a tent site.
Info: (208) 384-3300; blm.gov/id
Hike provided by Douglas Lorain, author of Backpacking Idaho (Wilderness Press).

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Location: 42.1615447998047, -116.512481689453