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Chalk Basin/ Owyhee River
Photo By Greg Burke

  • Title: Chalk Basin/ Owyhee River
  • State/Province/Region: Oregon
  • Country: United States
  • Nearest Area: Owyhee river
  • Nearest Town: Jorden Valley
  • Best Season: Spring
  • Description: Chalk formations in morning light, Owyhee river Description from Ouzel Outfitters website: "Oregon�s Most Remote River Journey Tucked away in the empty southeastern corner of Oregon is a seldom-traveled desert canyon with exceptional scenery, isolated wilderness and dramatic colorful gorges teaming with many species of birds and other wildlife. There are just enough moderate rapids to deliver a good dose of fun and excitement without taking away from the scenery and endless opportunities for hiking. Hot springs take the chill out of the often-fickle weather in April and May. Inviting sandy beaches surrounded by quiet un-crowded desert solitude create a premier camping experience. The geologic history revealed by the Owyhee consists of alternating layers of shallow lake basins, flood plains and volcanic debris ranging from ash to lava. The wildly contrasting red, brown, and black layers at Chalk Basin provide a spectacular backdrop for hiking and excellent opportunities for photography. Fossils preserved here include plants, fish and large and small mammals from 5 to 15 million years ago. Variety is central to the geology of the Owyhee, with the river traversing fractures and faults caused by massive earthquakes, and cutting dramatic gorges through pink and gray rhyolitic lava, columnar basalt, inter-canyon lava flows, fluvial deposits and volcanic ash flows. There�s always something interesting around the next corner. While otter, mule deer and big horn sheep are often spotted on the Owyhee many folks come strictly for the Birding. During the rafting season migratory birds including grebes, cormorants, cranes and curlews are common. A wide variety of raptors patrol the canyon and wrens, meadowlarks, sparrows and flycatchers entertain at camp. Don�t forget to keep an eye out for our favorite, the Water Ouzel! The evidence of ancient and more recent habitation is everywhere. Short hikes reveal sites with scatterings of chert and obsidian flakes and fragments. Sharp eyes and patient searching often reveal arrowheads and old camp and tool-making sites. Petroglyphs are prolific and range from several hundred to many thousands of years old. Recent archeological excavations at Birch Creek have lead to a reinterpretation of early and later settlement patterns suggesting the possibility of more permanent residency as opposed to long-held assumptions of seasonal occupation. Regardless of current theories, 10,000 years of human occupation is easily observed and fascinating to contemplate."
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