I’ve been fortunate to have spent much of my life in Idaho. From spectacular mountain ranges to sunbaked dunes to sprawling lava flows this state offers it all. But until just a few years ago I had never heard of the Owyhee Canyonlands. A PBS program, Outdoor Idaho, featured this natural wonder early one spring and I decided then this area was a must-see. And so, in July of 2011, I embarked on my second hike with the Idaho Conservation League.
We drove to Leslie Gulch, which is actually located just across the Idaho line in Malheur County, Oregon. Named for a local rancher, Hiram E. Leslie, who was hit by lightning there in 1882, Leslie Gulch boasts picturesque formations composed of volcanic tuff ranging in color from orange-red to variegated shades of brown. I stared in amazement as the first outcroppings
came into view. Strikingly beautiful against the cloudless sky, these statuesque pillars seemed to have sprung from the brushy hills supporting them. Once out of the truck, however, I discovered this is a hike best done either in the spring or fall. It was 11:00 a.m. and already VERY warm.
And best yet, it’s practically in my back yard!