Updated: Mar 21, 2021
An oasis in the arid and scenic Owyhee River Canyon
The Birch Creek Historic Ranch is like a secret oasis located in the southeast corner of Oregon in Malheur County. Even though this is in Oregon, it's still a daytrip from Boise! But if you want to stay overnight, there are five campsites.
LATITUDE/LONGITUDE: 43.214726, -117.503261
STARTING POINT: Boise
DISTANCE FROM STARTING POINT: 99 miles (one way)
TIME TO REACH: Approximately 2 hours 45 minutes (one way)
ROAD SURFACE: Paved and gravel/dirt
WHEN ACCESSIBLE: Year round; best access May - October
RECOMMENDED VEHICLES: A high clearance, four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended; accessibility is dependent on road conditions.
PET FRIENDLY: Yes
WHEN WE WENT: Late summer
TRAILHEADS: Hiking trails are throughout the area
CAMPGROUNDS: There is a single water source and restroom, and also five campsites.
SITE CONTACT INFO:
BLM Vale District office for facilities rental information, current road access conditions, and any seasonal fire closure restrictions. 541-473-3144
CAUTIONS: When you travel in the Owyhee Canyonlands you need to be prepared and self-sufficient. You will not find services when you leave the paved roads. Have a full gas tank and even consider carrying a spare gas can.
Driving conditions can be challenging. Pay attention to vehicle clearance and four-wheel drive recommendations. Even a little rainfall makes the roads here slippery, which will clog wheel wells with mud and limit travel.
Take I-84 west to Exit 3 (in Idaho) to US-95 toward Payette/Parma. Turn right. Follow Highway 95 south as it crosses the Snake River. In 34 miles, turn right onto Highway 95 heading south (not east toward Marsing). Continue driving south for 36.4 miles, crossing into Oregon. Turn right on Curly Lodge Road. Continue for 6.9 miles to a T-intersection with Cow Creek Road. Follow it to the third intersection, which is with Lodge Ranch Road on the right. Turn and continue for 2.5 miles. Turn onto Blowout Reservoir Road and continue for 12.2 miles to Birch Creek Road. Follow Birch Creek Road for approximately 5.7 miles to Birch Creek.
From Jordan Valley:
Go north on Highway 95 for 8 miles and turn west at the sign for Jordan Craters - another great daytrip! To get to the ranch, follow the BLM Owyhee River access signs for 28 miles down into the ranch.
The final descent into Birch Creek is challenging. You may meet boat trailers trying to get out along the narrow road. You will need to use caution and good judgement when descending those last 3 miles into the ranch in your four-wheel drive vehicle. Do not attempt this trip in a passenger car!
I'm Here - Now What?
The Birch Creek Historic Ranch serves as a primary take-out for floaters rafting from the Rome launch site.
Nearby hot springs
The ranch is surrounded by cream and chocolate colored hills, red cliffs and towering rock spires. You can still see the resourcefulness and grit started in the early 1900s by a Basque sheepherder and a West Virginia cattle rancher. Basque-style stone walls climb the mesa. Remains from a waterwheel can be seen by the river. The unique structures of this historical site have contributed to the property's designation as a historical rural landscape by the Department of the Interior's National Register of Historic Places.
Basics to have in your vehicle when traveling off road?
A full-size spare tire, towing straps/chains, a jack, some flat boards, Fix-a-Flat, a lug wrench, jumper cables and extra water.