The landscape within the Pole Creek Wilderness, in the southwest part of Idaho near the Oregon border, is diverse, ranging from river canyons over a thousand feet deep to vast expanses of sagebrush and grassland plateaus. This ecosystem provides habitat for sage grouse, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, songbirds, raptors, and numerous rare plant species. The river canyons in Owyhee County have been called the largest concentration of sheer-walled volcanic rhyolite and basalt canyons in the western United States. Elevations within the Wilderness boundaries range from 5,200 to 5,700 feet and many of the canyons are more than 1,000 feet deep, nearly twice as deep as the Washington Monument is tall. River enthusiasts come from around the country to challenge the famous white water rapids of these rivers.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Pole Creek Wilderness.
The Pole Creek Wilderness is located 80 miles southwest of Boise, Idaho. The Owyhee Uplands Backcountry Byway is the access road to this wilderness. It is located about 50 miles from Grand View, Idaho and Jordan Valley, Oregon.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.
Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 - Public law 111-11 (3/30/2009) An act to designate certain land as components of the National Wilderness Preservation System, to authorize certain programs and activities in the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture, and for other purposes.
The Owyhee Upland Backcountry Byway is typically passable to all types of vehicles May-November. There are no services including gas or potable water within 50 miles so bring plenty of both if traveling to this wilderness.
There are some outstanding moderate to difficult hiking or backpacking opportunities available. Wildlife viewing of pronghorn antelope and elk are possible.
Safety and Current Conditions
If camping, remember that the high desert is typically cool to cold at night even during the summer months when day temperatures are hot.
Want to Volunteer for Wilderness?
Citizens who volunteer their time to steward our wilderness areas are an essential part of wilderness management. Contact the following groups to inquire about volunteer opportunities.