Sitting comfortably awash in Oregon’s sagebrush sea, Rome is the sort of place that takes some determination to get to. My own path to there started in Ashland, Oregon and lasted about eight hours. Arriving near sunset, there was just enough time to unload our boats and catch a glimpse of the Owyhee River as it meandered through the surrounding ranchlands.
The rest of our crew arrived the following morning and we were all anxious for the opportunity to explore what is often referred to as Oregon’s Grand Canyon. Beginning at the Highway 95 bridge, our trip would end at Birch Creek, some sixty miles downstream. By the afternoon of the first day, most signs of humanity had disappeared and we eventually made camp in a canyon that bore little resemblance this stretch of the Owyhee’s wide open start.
Free from civilization’s glare, the stars in the canyon were fiercely bright and just as spectacular as anything seen during the day. The following morning brought warmer temperatures and a progressively deepening canyon as we made our way downstream. In what became a theme for the trip, the scenery only kept getting better.
Days on the river were narrated alternately by bird songs and the rumble of rapids. The scenery fluctuated from lava flows to ancient sea floors as the miles passed by. Several of our camps even had hot springs to relax in at night. It was in short, a paradise.
After five days of wilderness, it was almost jarring to see the Ranger Station at Birch Creek come into view. Only a few miles upstream, we had watched the silhouettes of bighorn sheep march across a ridgeline. Soon the boat ramp came into view, and as they all do, presented the opportunity to reflect and promise to be back again.
I certainly plan on my first trip down the Owyhee River not being my last and cannot wait to get back there again next Spring!
Originally Published: | Updated on
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...
Tucked into the Northeast corner or Oregon, tumbling out of the Blue Mountains, is the Grande Ronde River. A gem for rafters and kayakers looking for multi-day trip with excellent camps, awesome wildlife, and spectacular big canyon views. This is a unique trip because it actually starts on the Wallowa River, enters the Grande Ronde 9 miles into the trip, and finishes at the confluence with the Wenaha River at Troy. All three are designated as National Wild and Scenic Rivers. With snowpack around parts of...