Owyhee River Three Forks

I had a general plan for Labor Day weekend:  take pictures.  I was going to spend a couple days driving around in Northern Idaho and camping (somewhere).  As Friday drew to a close, I was thinking that camping would be easier and much more enjoyable down in the Owyhees, a place that I greatly miss since moving from Boise.  It then hit me that I had a four day weekend (thanks to my class schedule) and I’d also get to watch the BSU/Va Tech game in Boise with friends.  With two big pluses to driving 400 miles, I changed my plans about 10:30 Friday night.

I left Moscow at 7:15am Saturday morning.  With the time change from Pacific to Mountain while heading south, I made it to Boise at 2:00.  Another 2 hours or so found me 30 miles south of Jordan Valley, OR and at the Three Forks of the Owyhee River.  This is a place I’d tried to go before in the spring but road conditions made me turn back.  (In hindsight, I probably would have been fine, but then I wouldn’t have had an excuse for this Labor Day.)

The high desert did not disappoint!  Though I only spent one night and had to familiarize myself with the area while taking pictures during one evening and one morning, I felt pretty good about my takeaways.  The Main Fork of the Owyhee provided a nice canyon, typical of the canyonlands I’ve explored.  The evening light didn’t lend itself to warm reflections in the river due to the topography, but I knew morning light would be better.  I hiked about two miles that evening and finally found a nice view:

Owyhee River Late Afternoon Light

I knew the light quality would improve as I hiked back to camp.  I was looking to use some junipers in the foreground.  The area was quite nice, having a good but not crowded amount of junipers to fill the landscape.

Three Forks Sunset

(Both these pictures were captured using a 3-stop reverse ND grad.  The hard gradation was edited in Photoshop to be smoother.)

The next morning I hiked back to the first shot I’ve posted and then tried to find an access point to the river.  I kept on getting shut out by the rocky outcroppings.  Some provided decent views of the river and the morning light.  It opened up more as I followed the river back to camp, all the while looking for compositions.  In all, it was a good morning, despite the two blisters that resulted from the hiking.  It was definitely worth the 400 mile (one-way) road trip!

Morning reflection along the Owyhee River

Cliffs above the Owyhee River

Juniper and morning reflection

Technical note:  The second image was a two (vertical) shot  panorama stitched in Photoshop CS4.  The tonal differences between the cliffs is due to morning light being reflected on the right cliffs and the left cliffs still being in full shade.)


5 thoughts on “Owyhee River Three Forks

  1. Really nice stuff, Aaron! I sure wish I could find an opportunity to get into that country (preferably boating). The only time I ever drove through, the weather was absolute crap.

    I’ve been enjoying your blog a lot. It’s nice to see some quality work from Idaho!

  2. Thanks a lot Jackson! Idaho does get lost in all the other places to go and see out West. I think Idahoans like that, though. I liked your Idaho pictures as well as you’ve been to some places that I’d like to go to (Middle Fork of the Salmon and Bear Creek Lake).

    • Yes, as a very part-time Idahoan, I love that the place gets so overlooked. I spend most of my time there on the rivers, which is great, but I do wish I could find more time to explore the high country.

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