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Frequently Asked Questions About the Owyhee River

The Owyhee River is a 48 mile, 5 day rafting adventure filled with side hikes, unbelievable high desert landscapes, fun whitewater, and some of the best birding in the country. This small pocket of Oregon is the only part of the state that runs on Mountain Time, so set your clocks accordingly.

Lambert Dome
Lambert Dome

Where is the Owyhee?

The section of the Oywhee River most commonly rafted is in the southeast corner of Oregon. From its headwaters in northern Nevada, it meanders through southwestern Idaho and into Oregon. It’s located about 7 hours drive from Portland, Oregon, about 4 hours from Bend, Oregon, and about 2 hours from Boise, Idaho.

Check out my blog about the highlights of my last trip.

Where do we meet?

We meet at the BLM Owyhee River launch site and campground just north of the Rome Station Cafe on Highway 95. You will notice many other river runners getting ready for trips but keep an eye out for a Northwest Rafting Company truck, and our blue and yellow boats. This pocket of southeast Oregon is located in Mountain Standard time, so keep an eye on the clock, some cell phones update time automatically so be ready.

Where should I stay the night before?

There are a couple of different options when looking for a place to stay the night before your trip. You can easily camp at the Rome Owyhee River put-in. You will likely see our crew rigging boats and getting ready for the next day. You can also stay at the Basque Station Motel in Jordan Valley, or check to see if there are rooms at the Rome Station Cafe. If you don’t mind getting up a little early and driving in the morning, check out Crystal Crane Hot Springs just outside of Burns, Oregon on Highway 78.

What is the weather like in the spring?

The Oywhee Canyonlands are known for having unpredictable weather year-round. Temps can dip down to the 30s, and jump into the 70s. We have selected our trip dates in the window of having the best chances for great water levels weather. A large variety of weather conditions are possible so be prepared for cold weather, hot sunny days, and rain.

Getting Close to Iron Point Canyon on the Owyhee River
Getting Close to Iron Point Canyon on the Owyhee River

Are there other cool things to do around the area?

Getting to this corner of Oregon brings you close to many of eastern Oregon’s gems. If you are looking for hiking, desert camping, hot springs, or even some spring skiing, the hardest part will be deciding where to stop. Here are a few places to consider:

How hard are the rapids?

The rapids on the Owyhee are class II and III. There are a couple rapids that are a little trickier than the rest, which we will stop and scout. This makes for some great inflatable kayaking if you are thinking you want a little more excitement.

Can I kayak?

If you are a solid class III kayaker then you’ll enjoy the Owyhee. We have also had experienced canoeists and stand up paddle boarders join us. This is also a great river to hop into an inflatable kayak.

Kayaking Montgomery Rapid on the Owyhee River
Kayaking Montgomery Rapid on the Owyhee River

Is this a family-friendly trip?

This is a family friendly trip. However, the Owyhee River flows for rafting happen at the end of April and early May, making it hard to some families to get time off work and school. However, with loads of run rapids, great camps, some awesome hikes, and great starry nights, it is a trip that the entire family can enjoy.

Hiking Up Lambert Dome
Hiking Up Lambert Dome

Is there a shuttle back to our car?

After the trip is over we’ll drive you back to our meeting place in Rome, Oregon.

If you would like to have your vehicle shuttled to the take-out instead, we can help you set that up as well. Please note that the take out road is rugged, muddy, has a couple of shallow water crossings, and 4-wheel drive is recommended.

Originally Published: | Updated on | Categorized under: Owyhee River

Post Author

Michael Hughes

Michael grew up in a small Minnesota town. He spent his days outside in the woods and riding a bike. The only thing that has changed is his location. Oregon is now home and he is still outside, riding a bike, and paddling where ever the water is.

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