It takes a little doing to get to the wildly eroded Owyhee River country, but sections of this 35-mile gravel drive (and its 14.5-mile side branch) are unforgettable. Running between Adrian (south of Ontario) and a junction with US 95, 18 miles north of Jordan Valley, this scenic route passes grand desert landscapes and spectacular rock peaks.
Take the gravel road 8 miles south of Adrian; the sign should say 'Succor Creek State Park.' You'll drive through sagebrush and rolling hills for about 10 miles, then start descending. A couple of miles later are amazing vertical walls of volcanic tuff hundreds of feet high. The Succor Creek State Natural Area sits at the other end of the canyon, with free basic campsites (no water), wildlife-watching opportunities and stunning vistas.
The scenery is even more spectacular at Leslie Gulch, 26 miles further south on a 14.5-mile dead-end side branch off the main gravel road. A narrow creek channel goes through vividly colored volcanic rock eroded into amazing pinnacles and turreted formations, at last reaching Lake Owyhee Reservoir. There's free primitive camping at Slocum Creek campground (covered picnic tables, fire pits, gravel sites), which is open March to November. Watch for rattlesnakes.
Driving on gravel roads is slow going, so leave yourself plenty of time and take food, lots of water and a full tank of gas. Also note that it gets very hot here in summer and you're unlikely to get cellphone service. For more information, contact the Vale BLM.