The Owyhee River Wilderness in southwestern Idaho—a land of sagebrush and canyons--draws white water enthusiasts to its many rivers. The Trust is part of the on-going implementation of the Owyhee Initiative, a historic collaboration by local ranchers, Owyhee County, the Shoshone-Paiute Tribe, outfitters, conservation groups and recreationists to promote the ecological and economic health of the area.


Twelve wilderness areas in Idaho shelter 4.52 million acres. Some 17,000 privately owned acres remain within the federal wilderness. Some home sites and lodges are reachable only by private plane or jet boat, presenting challenges to the surrounding wilderness where motorized travel is not permitted.

Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness

Idaho County (US Forest Service)

38.57 acres transferred

Few places in America, and nowhere outside of Alaska, provide a Wilderness experience to match the sheer magnitude of the Frank Church-River of No Return, the second largest unit of the National Wilderness Preservation System in the Lower 48 (second in size only to California's Death Valley Wilderness). It is a land of clear rivers, deep canyons, and rugged mountains. Two white-water rivers draw many human visitors: the Main Salmon River and the Middle Fork of the Salmon. Reaching 6,300 feet from the river bottom, the canyon carved by the Main Salmon is deeper than most of the earth's canyons--including the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River--and this fast-moving waterway has been dubbed the River of No Return.

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Hells Canyon Wilderness

Adams County (USDA Forest Service)

13.21 acres transferred

Hells Canyon Wilderness is a subset of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area (HCNRA), which straddles the border of northeastern Oregon and western Idaho. Split into two distinct halves by the Wild & Scenic Snake River, approximately one-third of HCNRA is designated Wilderness. A small portion of the Wilderness in Oregon is managed by the BLM.The Idaho side of the Wilderness is smaller than the Oregon side and encompasses the Seven Devils mountain range. The Wilderness stretches South from Pittsburg Landing for approximately 31 miles along the Snake River.

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Little Jacks Creek Wilderness

Owyhee County (Bureau of Land Management)

560 acres transferred

The Little Jacks Creek Wilderness includes a basalt dome covered by sagebrush and grass. Magnificent 1,000-foot canyons tower over meandering creeks that provide outstanding high-desert scenery, solitude and many recreational opportunities best enjoyed from September through mid-November. The perennial streams and dense riparian vegetation attracts mule deer, sage grouse and mountain quail.

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North Fork Owyhee Wilderness (COMPLETED)

Owyhee County (Bureau of Land Management)

1,171 acres transferred

The landscape within the North Fork Owyhee 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. 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.

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Owyhee Wilderness, Idaho




In the lower 48 states, the largest area of unbroken wilderness is found in Idaho's Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, approximately 2,300,000 acres.