Jordan Valley, in the heart of of Oregon Basque country, lies in the extreme southeast corner of the state, along Hwy 95. It serves as the jumping off point for some of the most remote, most gorgeous volcanic country one can find in Oregon. Meg and I spent Memorial Day weekend here, using the Basque Station motel as our base. (And enjoying great food at the local Basque restaurant and great coffee at the Rock House!)
We drove thirty miles west for an early evening picnic at the Pillars of Rome. These are incredibly extensive clay formations that reminded early settlers of Roman ruins. The next day we drove about eight miles back north on Hwy 95 and then traveled west on a dirt road to the Jordan Craters and the Birch Creek Ranch. Lava spewed out of the Coffee Pot crater about 3200 years ago, the most recent flow in Oregon. Wear sturdy shoes and enjoy the walk across this multi patterned/ “printed” lava. The trail down into the crater is also a worthwhile hike.
If you are bold and venturesome, and have a high clearance vehicle with good tires, the drive down to the Birch Creek Ranch and Owyhee River campground operated by the BLM takes you to some of the most intense and memorable scenery you will find in Oregon. The road is not passable in the rain, but it dries out quickly. This location is almost as remote as the Colorado River through the Grande Canyon, and almost as beautiful!
|Owyhee River at the Birch Creek Ranch. Camping is at the far right.|
|The road to the Birch Creek Ranch|
|This water wheel is probably a century old.|
|Canyon view from road to the Birch Creek Ranch|
|Meg looking down into Coffee Pot Crater|
|Coffee Pot Crater rim|
|Coffee Pot Crater and lava flows|
|It is a long way down.|
|Canyon country looking west toward the Owyhee River|
|Pillars of Rome|