Geologic Wonders Of Succor Creek Canyon & Leslie Gulch – Part 1

If rock hounding, exploring geologic formations, and viewing wildlife all sound appealing, Oregon has the perfect place for it.  Located between Adrian and Jordan Valley, Oregon, the Succor Creek State Recreation Area features spectacular scenery and an abundance of the thunderegg.  Designated the Oregon state rock on March 30, 1965, the thunderegg is prevalent in several areas of the state, including here.  In addition, the geologic formation scenery is astounding, particularly in the Leslie Gulch area.  Finally, opportunities abound to watch deer, bighorn sheep, and a variety of birds and reptiles.  One word of caution, though…in the warmer months, this is rattlesnake country.  Be vigilant while exploring the rock formations.

Succor Creek Leslie Gulch Outdoor Oregon
Succor Creek thunderegg – photo credit: thundereggs.wordpress.com
Bighorn Sheep Succor Creek Leslie Gulch Outdoor Oregon
Bighorn Sheep rams. Their nimbleness while navigating rocky terrain is impressive to observe. Photo credit: www.wilderness.org
Western Rattlesnake Succor Creek Leslie Gulch Outdoor Oregon
Western Rattlesnake. They are non-aggressive and will only strike as a last resort. Watch where you put your hands and feet, though. Photo credit: oregonconservationstrategy.org

Our journey started in Adrian, a small ranching community located 25 miles south of Ontario.  From there, we continued south on Oregon Highway 201 for 8 miles to the turn-off for Succor Creek Road (map).  From here, the rest of the trip would be on gravel road.

Succor Creek Leslie Gulch Outdoor Oregon
Ummm…where’s the scenery?
Succor Creek Leslie Gulch Outdoor Oregon
Whew! There it is. Just have to keep going!

After several miles across the sage steppe and winding through small buttes, we reached the final approach to Succor Creek Canyon.  Our reward for making it this far was amazing, awe-inspiring scenery.

Succor Creek Leslie Gulch Outdoor Oregon
The final approach to Succor Creek Canyon. We could feel the anticipation rapidly growing.

Succor Creek Leslie Gulch Outdoor Oregon

After a few more bends in the road, we arrived at the beginning of the canyon.  The space was quickly getting more narrow and the rock formations much taller and impressive.  We could tell things would quickly get interesting.

Succor Creek Leslie Gulch Outdoor Oregon
Entering Succor Creek Canyon.
Succor Creek Leslie Gulch Outdoor Oregon
Beautiful!
Succor Creek Leslie Gulch Outdoor Oregon
My son has his camera pointed at the cliff tops. The cliffs are high enough only the lower half would fit in my camera view.
Succor Creek Leslie Gulch Outdoor Oregon
Tight enough for the cliff rock to hang over the road.
Succor Creek Leslie Gulch Outdoor Oregon
Amazing!

As we emerged from the canyon, we spotted a mule deer doe escaping the heat of the day in the perfect spot.  With plenty of shade and the creek close by, this girl was living the good life and had no concerns with us stopping to check her out.  The kids and I enjoyed watching her, but the day was already getting hot, so we moved on.

Succor Creek Leslie Gulch Outdoor Oregon
Taking a break in the shade. Smart girl.

Upon reaching the southern end of the canyon, we arrived at the Succor Creek State Natural Area.  There are drive-up campsites next to the road, walk-in campsites on the other side of the creek, and a pit restroom.  The area does not have potable water, so you will need to bring your own or filter and treat water from the creek.

Succor Creek Leslie Gulch Outdoor Oregon
Campground at Succor Creek State Natural Area.
Succor Creek Leslie Gulch Outdoor Oregon
Foot bridge across Succor Creek.  Rock hounds search for thundereggs among the rock bases on the hillside in the background.
Succor Creek Leslie Gulch Outdoor Oregon
Across the creek at the walk-in camping area.
Succor Creek Leslie Gulch Outdoor Oregon
View of Succor Creek from the foot bridge.

After we finished exploring the Succor Creek State Natural Area, we continued south towards Leslie Gulch.  As the road climbed out of the creek canyon, we stopped one last time to enjoy the view.

Succor Creek Leslie Gulch Outdoor Oregon
Millions of years of natural erosion have created a magnificent area to explore!

On we went.  The road meandered past agricultural fields maintained by the AC Ranch.  As I travel through areas such as this, it never ceases to amaze me just how remote the country is in this part of Oregon.  Despite that, the appearance of rancher fields are a reminder that even out here, civilization has its touch.

Succor Creek Leslie Gulch Outdoor Oregon
Ranchers take advantage of the relatively flat areas to cultivate their crops.  Irrigation from Succor Creek provides the water needed to tame this otherwise arid landscape.

10 miles south of the campground, we arrived at the turn-off for Leslie Gulch.  We didn’t know it at the time, but this would turn out to be another incredible adventure.  In fact, it was so much so that a second post is needed to give Leslie Gulch the attention it rightly deserves.

Be sure to return and check for Part 2, where we explore Leslie Gulch.  Coming soon!

Succor Creek Leslie Gulch Outdoor Oregon
At the top of the descent through Leslie Gulch. Be sure to watch for Part 2!

 

For more information, please go to:

Succor Creek State Natural Area

 

To continue with Part 2, click here:

Geologic Wonders Of Succor Creek Canyon & Leslie Gulch – Part 2


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