Hidden in Southeastern Oregon, this high desert river is as special as it is remote making it qualify for many seasoned boaters’ bucket lists. With columnar basalt formation created by the same geologic hot spot that currently lies beneath Yellowstone National Park, the Owyhee River canyon is a must-see. And although at first glance the landscape might look barren, the Owyhee is home to an incredibly diverse and exciting environment.
As you make your way down river, you’ll spot pictographs and other evidence of native tribes that pepper the canyon walls. Of the more than 100 different types of birds that live in the area, see how many you can identify. Later at your campsite in a huge cave, watch the river from under an immense rock canopy. From the bright sunflower-like Arrowleaf Balsamroot to the aromatic scent of sage in the wind after a light rain to soaking in steaming hot springs while watching a dramatic sunset, the Owyee will delight all your senses.
We run the lower part of the Owyhee, 48 miles of Class III rapids from the town of Rome to Birch Creek. The moderate snowpack often melts in a sudden burst, leaving it either too high or low during the majority of the year. This means a rather short and irregular season on the Owyee which simply heightens its appeal. Generally the first half of May is a perfect time to experience the Owyhee and is suitable for boaters of all ages and skill-levels.
Expect for things to start off peaceful but then quickly build to the most difficult rapids on Days 3 and 4. The last day is generally easy.
Off the Rafts
Most of the camps have wonderful hikes to the rim of the canyon or other viewpoints to see some of the geologic wonders. We may also camp by hot springs.
Flora & Fauna
Sagebrush, Western Juniper, Balsom Root, Hackberry, Indian Paintbrush, Globemallow, Chukar, Magpie, Western Tanager, Canyon Wren, Red-tailed Hawks. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled high for eagles' nests as Golden Eagles and other birds of prey are abundant in this river canyon. On an Owyhee river rafting trip Western Tanagers, magpies, and swallows will also be seen swooping overhead and there's even the chance to spot river otters, pronghorn antelope, or bighorn sheep.