Andy Kerr

Conservationist, Writer, Analyst, Operative, Agitator, Strategist, Tactitian, Schmoozer, Raconteur

63. Anderson Crossing (Upper West Little Owyhee and Three Forks Units)

Suggested Citation: Kerr, Andy. 2000. Oregon Desert Guide: 70 Hikes. Seattle: The Mountaineers Books. pp. 228-229.

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What to Expect: Incredibly deep and textured canyon full of color

Distance: 2 to 120 miles (your call) loop or round trip

Elevation Range: 5,200-5,800 feet

Drinking Water: Yes

Best Times: Summer, fall

USGS 7.5' Maps: Guadeloupe Meadows, Oregon Butte

Oregon Map Starting Point: McDermitt

Approximately 14 miles north on US 95, turn east onto a good BLM road. Pro- ceed northeasterly for 1.2 miles and go right (northeast, not north) at the intersection. Continue easterly and then northerly on the main road for approximately 14 miles. At a major intersection (you're now pointed northeast) turn southeast (right). Staying to the main road, go approximately 19 miles to Anderson Crossing (Guadeloupe Canyon quad). You can park before the ford or on the other side.

Test the water depth before you cross in your vehicle. Some suspicious rock dams—first thought to be made by the grazing permittee to provide water for livestock—have been found here. Closer inspection revealed an engineering marvel far beyond the reach of most humans, especially ranchers usually given to damming streams with bulldozers and plastic sheeting. These dams were very even in height and had a very smooth arc. The rocks were well interlaced and evenly sized. It is thought to be the handiwork of beavers.

From Anderson Crossing, one can walk either upstream into the Upper West Little Owyhee unit (Oregon Butte quad) or downstream into the Owyhee Canyonlands unit (Guadeloupe Meadows quad). Since the river drains a much smaller area and has no snowpack or large springs at its source, by late summer it is a series of pools. The wet-shoes option is the only option for walking in the canyons.

For day hikes, walk either upstream or down. If there is too much water, go to plan B and walk the rims above the river. How far you want to go is up to you. The canyon meanders extensively, so your time returning on the plateau is a fraction of the time spent in the canyon. If you choose to go a long way in the canyon, you will need the adjacent quad maps.

Some have carried an inner tube and floated their pack and themselves through the deep pools. The summer air soon dries one's clothes. One option is to walk the canyon until you want to get out, then find a way up to the rim. They will be strenuous, but there are relatively short escapes to the surrounding plateau. Return to your start.