Battle Creek Wild and Scenic River


In the canyon near the Owyhee River
The countryside of Battle Creek Wild & Scenic River

Battle Creek flows in southwestern Idaho in the Owyhee River drainage. It's not a big creek but it is perennial. 23.4 miles of the creek have been designated Wild and Scenic. That 23.4 miles runs from the confluence of Battle Creek with the Owyhee River upstream to the boundary of Owyhee River Wilderness. That section of the river also flows between rhyolite cliffs up to 500 feet high and in a canyon never more than 3/8 of a mile wide. Between the bottom of the cliffs and the flowing stream is a lush riparian zone filled with chokecherry, willow, dogwood, currant, rose, alder, sedges and grasses. Climbing the cliffs you'll see mountain snowberry, prickly phlox, red alumroot, desert gooseberry and the Owyhee River forget-me-not. For wildlife there is mule deer, elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep and the usual smaller mammals. The rhyolite cliffs are highly fractured and eroded and make excellent nesting area for raptors like bald eagles, prairie falcons and ferruginous hawks. There are also songbirds, shorebirds and waterbirds.

A product of extensive volcanic activity during the Miocene Epoch (24 to 5 million years ago), the region is part of the largest concentration of sheer basalt/rhyolite canyons in the western United States. Other rivers in the Owyhee Uplands area also designated Wild and Scenic include the South Fork of the Owyhee River, the Owhyhee River, Dickshooter Creek, Deep Creek, Duncan Creek and Red Canyon Creek.

Full length of Battle Creek: 67 miles. The stream is not floatable due to its limited access. Most folks who visit are floating the Owyhee and decide to hike a side trail up Battle Creek. The going is a lot easier in the bottom of the canyon but the undergrowth is dense in places.

A view in the upper canyon of Battle Creek
Battle Creek
Photos courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management