Oregon’s southeast corner forms the northernmost section of the Great Basin Desert, which also covers parts of Utah, Idaho, and Nevada. Most of the land is publicly owned and managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and thus open for use and exploration. While the southeast is less inhabited than other regions of the state, the vast, expansive landscape of the desert harbors many sites of interest, including hot springs, wetlands, volcanic remains, historic sites, lakes, and river canyons. One interesting feature of the Great Basin Desert is that all rivers flow inward, ending in lakes or salt pans, and none reach the sea.

Southeastern Oregon is home to many wildlife refuges which protect desert species like pronghorn antelope and bighorn sheep.

South of the wheat lands of northeast Oregon, agricultural activity tends toward livestock grazing except where irrigation is available – those areas are often used to produce alfalfa hay. The Owyhee River flows through the region, forming a thousand-foot deep canyon with layered rock formations, and is a popular destination for whitewater rafting trips.