As we say our goodbyes to winter, and cheer for snow in the mountains, it is time to greet spring with a river trip that hasn’t seen many people over the past few years. The past couple of years of low snowpack in much of the west, has left rivers like the Owyhee too low to raft. Well this year is different! The snowpack is looking good and many are headed to the Owyhee River for some spring rafting trips.
The Owyhee Canyonlands are known for there desert beauty, vast and rugged remoteness, and deep canyons. Coming from the mountains of Nevada and Idaho this pocket of Oregon desert offer endless exploration. The Lower Owyhee, as it is referred to by many boaters, is the most popular stretch of river the run. With about 50 miles of deep canyons, hot springs, great hiking, and fun rapids, There is a lot to take in. Here are some of my favorites.
This stunning ashy white and chocolate striped dome is a focal point of Chalk Basin. About 10 million years ago lava flowed over an ancient lake bed, baking the clay and mud into the now red rock layers. Hopefully you have time to hike here, so many nooks and crannies to explore.
Not far from the river, not on any maps, hidden amongst the rocks are some amazing petroglyphs. Dating as far back as 6,000 years old, these markings on the rocks mark human history along the Owyhee River.
Not matter the occasion it is always nice to soak in some nice hot water and enjoy the scenery. You will find a couple different hot springs along the river. Some big, some small, but always relaxing after a day on the water.
Humans have been using caves for protection, and storing goods for ever. There are a handful a caves along the river. Some high in the canyon walls, others right along the rivers edge. Either way, we as humans still enjoy caves and there is even a camp inside one.
Iron Point Canyon
Vertical red walls coming right out of the water make Iron Point Canyon a memorable section of river. The erosion resistant, red rock walls are rhyolite. Made from viscous, sticky lava, these rock walls are iconic Owyhee Canyon.
There are a plethora of great places to hike up and out of the canyon. Hikers are rewarded with sweeping views of the desert landscape that surround the river canyon.
An Owyhee River trip is a reward for those looking for adventure. The deep canyons, remote and rugged terrain, and weather dependence give this special place a beauty like no other. This is a slice of Oregon like no other.