South Fork John Day River Professional Review and Guide
"A pleasant backcountry drive along a Wild and Scenic River canyon, truly emerging in the middle of nowhere on an easy, wide gravel road.
This is an easy and charming little drive that will get you off the highway and away from traffic after you’ve toured the John Day Fossil Beds and are seeking an alternate route back to the Prineville and Bend area. It’s a Wild and Scenic River but it’s a very gentle wildness, if you can picture such a thing. The little canyon is quite pretty, rising above hayfields and a small, kind of brushy river. Go left at the fork at mile 9, toward Izee. You can go right, but the road dead-ends after 1 mile.
At mile 10, the canyon narrows considerably and ponderosa pines begin to show up. The highlight is the main trailhead for the Black Canyon Wilderness Area (13,400 acres) at mile 12. Black Canyon is exquisite, with black rock cliffs on either side and big fat red ponderosa pines shading the trail. The pine scent is heavenly."