Author: Ajay Sapre | Published: April 2, 2021 | Category: Profile
A Portlander comes to understand that a trip down the Owyhee is about more than chasing rapids — it’s about experiencing the landscape itself.
After moving to Oregon in 2016, I focused most of my paddling on rivers close to my home in Portland. I started kayaking in high school and moving to the Pacific Northwest was an easy choice since this area is known by paddlers for its variety and beauty. I started hearing more about the “Grand Canyon of Oregon,” the Owyhee River, which sounded nothing like my weekend favorites, seeding the idea of heading into this unexplored territory farther from home.
Making my first trip into eastern Oregon and to the Owyhee during the spring of 2019 became an obvious choice. The river season is variable year to year, but the above-average snowpack from the prior winter meant the flows would deliver for a couple of months.
Driving east past Bend gave us the taste of hours of rolling sagebrush plains and wide-open landscapes. We saw pronghorn pairs dotting the landscape but not much else before arriving at the boat launch site in Rome. There were surprisingly few buildings there, with the most reliable gas over 100 miles away in Burns. While the put-in was crowded with excited boaters, the Owyhee still felt like a welcome escape from the bustle of everyday life in Portland.