DISCOVER: Leslie Gulch

Editor’s note: This article was first published in Discover Malheur County, the visitor and business guide published by Malheur Media. Discover is available for free at local business and tourism centers across the state.

ADRIAN – Secluded and tucked into a corner of southeastern Oregon, Leslie Gulch offers some of the best recreation in the state.

The canyon area on the east side of Owyhee Reservoir features unique rock formations. People from across the state and the nation – including many rock climbers – journey to the out-of-the-way area every year.

“It attracts all sorts of recreators. They come predominantly because it has wonderful scenery, geology and access to the reservoir,” said Kari Points an outdoor recreation planner for the Vale office of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The BLM manages the Leslie Gulch area. 

Many local residents also know area for another attraction.

“It is a good spring fishing destination,” noted Points.

From Vale to Leslie Gulch is about a 2½ hour trip that includes a drive through Idaho via Adrian and Homedale on U.S. Highway 95.

Named after for rancher Hiram E. Leslie, who was hit by lightning in the area, Leslie Gulch is accessible from a turnoff on U.S. Highway 95 onto McBride Road. Visitors follow McBride Road until it intersects with Succor Creek Road. Succor Creek Road slices across the high desert until it reaches the gravel Leslie Gulch Road which takes a visitor the Slocum Creek-Leslie Gulch Campground.

“You can drive all the way to the reservoir from the (U.S. Highway 95) turnoff. It is marked on the highway,” said Points. 

The campground offers eight camping spots and restrooms.

Points had a few tips for campers headed to Leslie Gulch.

“People need to take extra water, watch out for snakes and have a four-wheel-drive vehicle,” said Points. 

The rock formations at Leslie Gulch continue to be a big attraction, said Points.

“It is great hiking and it has lots of unique rock formations. The rock has eroded over time and made the area’s unique scenery. That’s really why it has become such a destination,” said Points.

Rock climbers especially like the area, said Points. The rock – volcanic tuff – has more than 75 climbing routes. 

Besides snakes, the area also is home to a variety of wildlife. 

“It is a good place for bighorn sheep,” said Points.

A bighorn sheep herd of about 200 runs through the area and there are also deer and coyotes. 

“It is just a scenic place. I like it because I am an outdoor recreation planner and I enjoy seeing people out enjoying our resources,” said Points.

There are also a wide range of birds in the area including quail, chukars, hawks and swifts.

The Leslie Gulch Campground is open from March through November. There is no Wi-Fi or cell phone service and camping sites are a first-come, first-served. 

To find out more, contact the Vale office of the BLM at 541 473-3144. 

Reporter Pat Caldwell: [email protected] or 541 473-3377.