The most beautiful place in the Lower 48 that you’ve never heard of is the Kalmiopsis Wilderness in southwestern Oregon. It’s a wild, roadless and pristine terrain that’s nearly 200,000 acres, full of rugged cliffs and boulder-strewn canyons through which some of the purest waters on the planet flow.
The Kalmiopsis (Kal-mee-op-sis) gets its name from Kalmiopsis leachiana – one of the rarest plants in the US – a type of flowering shrub left over from the last Ice Age. It was discovered in 1930 and is one of hundreds of endemic plant species native only to the Kalmiopsis Wilderness.
The Chetco and North Fork Smith rivers originate here. The Illinois flows freely through one of the most remote canyons in the world. Each have been designated as National Wild and Scenic Rivers. Several tributaries of these rivers – Baldface Creek, Rough and Ready Creek, Josephine Creek, Silver Creek and Indigo Creek – flow through land adjacent to the Kalmiopsis and are eligible to become National Wild and Scenic Rivers in their own right.
Wild and Scenic Rivers of the Kalmiopsis
There is no place like the wild, botanically rich Kalmiopsis Wilderness and it needs our protection for future generations. The bordering lands – the North and South Kalmiopsis Roadless Areas – are currently unprotected. Including these lands in the federally protected Kalmiopsis Wilderness would more than double its size and most likely ensure the preservation of this unique and ecologically significant landscape.
For more information about the Kalmiopsis Wilderness and how you can get involved, please visit the following websites:
- Friends of the Kalmiopsis – Protecting the beautiful rivers, wild lands and legendary botanical diversity of Oregon’s Kalmiopsis Country.
- Kalmiopsis Audubon Society – Named for the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, the Kalmiopsis Audubon Society is the primary local conservation advocacy group in Curry County.
- Siskiyou Mountain Club – A small group of fiery volunteers determined to raise awareness of the perils facing the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area.