Towering over the southernmost part of the Owyhee desert are the Owyhee Mountains, a rugged range extending from Southwest Idaho to northern Nevada. The elevation varies from 2,000-8,000 feet (600-2,400 meters) above sea level. Nearly a half-million acres are protected by the U.S. government, making it one of the largest strongholds of undeveloped wilderness in the country.
When miners discovered silver in the mountains surrounding Hayden Peak, the once-sleepy settlement of Silver City transformed into a booming mining metropolis. Then, it was home to eight saloons, two hotels, six general stores and Idaho’s first-ever newspaper. When mines closed in 1942, the city faded into a boarded-up ghost town. Today, Silver City is one of the last towns from Idaho’s silver rush that hasn’t been developed or destroyed by wildfires. It looks nearly the same now as it did over 150 years ago … and it’s open to the public. Visit in late spring, summer or fall.
Past the rugged mountain peaks and ghost towns, three rivers cut through the Owyhee desert. Each of them is a crucial source of freshwater to 200-plus species – including trophy bass and world-famous brown trout – that call this place home.
For more information on Southwest Idaho, visit VisitSouthwestIdaho.org.