This last weekend I was able to finally get Melissa and her camera gear out to the Owyhee Uplands Back Country Byway. Abby and I hit this road last year on the Idaho Overland trip with Beau Johnston from Living Overland. On that trip I saw a million photo opportunities so I knew I had to get her back out there.
Locally known as Mud Flat Road for its impassibility when rain and snow make the terrain an absolute mess, is the primary
access to central Owyhee County. An area rich in history has something for every overlander wanting a day or two of exploration. Off the byway, there are multiple trails to explore, and though most people do it in a few hours, we prefer either an all day trip with lots of stops or a multi-day trip to fully absorb all there is in the area.
There is really only a small window of travel. As mentioned earlier, rain makes the road slick and due to the terrian, it takes several weeks to dry out. In the summer, the heat can become unbearable for many. When Abby and I passed that area last July the temps in the shade were at 108.
We started our trip in Jordan Valley, Oregon which is about an 90 minutes from our base camp in the Boise area. Another route is from Hwy 78 near Grand View, Idaho. If you love off-pavement travel like we do, you will get mostly gravel and dirt road. You will also get the thrill of crossing back and forth over state lines a few times. There is about 90 miles in Idaho and 15 miles within Oregon.
As we say in all of our workshops and seminars, prepare for adverse situations. You are alone out here. There are no services, cell phones are out of range, and even our testing with the 2m HAM set up proved that we were alone. This makes a great case for carrying a SPOT GPS unit with you. Top off your rig with fuel in Grandview or Jordan Valley, carry 3-5 gallons of water, your survival kit, and if possible and extra gallon of two of fuel. We also carried a full tool kit along with extra hoses and belts.
We were incredibly fortunate to have “Frankie” along on our trip. Third generation rancher in the area, at 95 years-old has more life in her than most people. Through her we were entertained and educated about some of the small historic details including a trip to the school house in Cliffs, the old post office in Fairy Lawn (both now defunct towns) stories of moonshiners, wagon train contracts, the people she knew in the area, and even games played as children.
Please be aware that there are many parcels of private land along the Byway. Please respect private property by having the right maps and equipment to avoid trespassing.
This is a great trip and recommend it for all regional overlanders. Make sure you checkout our facebook page to see when we are going to be out there again or exploring other regional areas as part of Project ROVE. And as a small reminder, remember, we do workshops and seminars to prepare you for safe back country travel.
We will be doing a full podcast on this trip soon.