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Owyhee River
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Owyhee River

The Owyhee River is a tributary of the Snake River, approximately 200 miles (320 km) long, in northern Nevada, southwestern Idaho and southeastern Oregon in the United States. It drains a remote area of the arid plateau region on the north edge of the Great Basin, rising in northeastern Nevada and flowing generally northward along the Oregon-Idaho border region to the Snake. Its watershed is among the most sparsely populated areas of the contiguous United States, flowing through remote spectacular canyons in its lower course.

Table of contents
1 Description
2 History
3 See also
4 External link


It rises in northeastern Nevada, in northern Elko County, Nevada, approximately 50 miles (80 km) north of Elko. It flows north along the east side of the Bull Run Mountains, passing through Wild Horse Reservoir, then cutting northeast past the north end of the range. It cuts across the Humboldt National Forest, past Mountain City and Owyhee in the Duck Valley Indian Reservation. It enters southwestern Idaho, flowing northwest for approximately 50 miles (80 km) across the southwest corner of the state through Owyhee County. It is joined by the South Fork Owyhee River from the south approximately 10 miles (16 km) east of the Oregon border.

It enters extreme southeast Oregon in southern Malheur County, generally flowing north in a zigzag course east of the Idaho border. It receives the West Little Owyhee from the south, then receives the North Fork Owyhee and Middle Fork Owyhee from the east at a location known as "Three Forks". It then passes through the Owyhee Canyon between Big Grassy Mountain and Whitehouse Butte, then turns north, flowing east of Burns Junction and then west of the Mahogany Mountains. It enters the Snake from the east on the Oregon-Idaho border approximately 5 miles (8 km) south of Nyssa, Oregon and 2 miles (3 km) south of the mouth of the Boise River.

In northern Malheur County, approximately 20 miles (32 km) upstream from its mouth on the Snake, it is impounded by the Owyhee Dam to form the serpentine Lake Owyhee, approximately 52 miles (84 km) long. The dam was constructed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation primarily to provide irrigation for the agricultural potato-growing region around the Snake River. Lake Owyhee State Park is along the eastern shore of the reservoir.


The watershed of the river was part of region inhabited by the Shoshone. The river was named in 1826 for two Hawaiian employees of the Hudson's Bay Company who were killed by the Shoshone while undertaking a fur trapping expedition in the then-disputed Oregon Country. The discovery of gold and silver in the region in 1863 resulted in a temporary influx of miners and the establishment of mining camps, most of which have long since disappeared.

In 1984, the United States Congress designated 120 mi (193 km) of the river as Owyhee Wild and Scenic River. Part of the designation includes the section of the river downstream from the Owyhee Dam, where the river flows through a remote section of deeply incised canyons surrounded by high canyon rims that are habitat for mountain lion, bobcat, Mule Deer, California Bighorn Sheep, and a large variety of raptors

See also

External link