I find out about Leslie Gulch because the colorful volcanic tuff rock towers here once inspired the development of some sport climbs. New bolting is now banned, and the little bit of information I find on existing climbs makes me think they’ll be too hard for us, so we explore the area on foot rather than trying to climb the rocks.
The obvious part of the landscape that has changed in the last century is the reservoir at the bottom of the canyon. In the early 1900’s prospectors upstream in Nevada reported pitchforking salmon from the river. Construction of the Owyhee dam in 1932 ended that, the last Nevadan salmon run. In exchange Oregon and Idaho got 120,000 acres of irrigated farmland, and now 12 megawatts of electric generation as well.
It’s been a while since we stayed deep in the boonies, and this spot feels remote and deeply restful. The main attraction is boat access to Owyhee Reservoir, but it’s the terrain that lures us in for interesting hiking. The BLM information on this area highlights rare plant species found here and a population of California bighorn sheep. We enjoy seeing soaring raptors, wildflowers, and most of all vast untrammeled volcanic landscapes.