- Associated Press - Saturday, May 10, 2014

JORDAN VALLEY, Ore. (AP) - Ghostly figures appeared in the sagebrush on the desert plateau along the road to Jordan Craters in Southeast Oregon.

One second the pale brown and white pronghorns were staring at the truck. The next they were dashing across the gray-green landscape and making a beeline for a ridge.

The high desert is a magical place during spring, and a chance to spot wildlife such as pronghorns, mule deer, coyotes and hawks, and to listen to a symphony of meadowlarks, sandhill cranes and blackbirds.

The landscape is blooming with green grasses and intricate colors provided by wildflowers.

Spring is definitely the time to take a scenic drive out in the high desert of Southwest Idaho and Southeast Oregon.

This is remote country doesn’t have much traffic aside from occasional rockhounds, ATVers and ranchers towing stock trailers.

Most of the roads are good in dry weather, aside from being bumpy and dusty, and they take you to a lot of wild country between 90 minutes and several hours from Boise.

The key to a trip to the high desert is to get out of the car and soak up the sights, smells and sounds.

Stop and walk up a canyon, or sit beside a creek in a meadow. If there’s a small reservoir or pothole, sit down and wait for something to happen.

It will. Blackbirds will start contesting you for territory. A hawk may ride the thermals above you. Shorebirds will definitely squawk at you.

And those pronghorns? They may just come back to see what you’re all about, especially if you are downwind of them, and the inquisitive animals can’t figure you out.

Just be still and let desert life happen around you.

Besides sitting and listening, take along a wildflower guide book. You’ll want to photograph flowers and know what you’re looking at.


The 100-mile Owyhee Uplands National Back Country Byway is one of the most scenic desert drives in Southwest Idaho.

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