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Owyhee River Rafting Trip

Difficulty Rating: 3 of 5 April 17 (Mon. p.m.) to April 22 (Sat. a.m.) Also known as Oregon’s Grand Canyon, the Owyhee Canyonlands offer dramatic canyons, colorful rock formations, hot springs and ancient Native American petroglyphs. Home to one of Oregon's most wild rivers, the Owyhee area supports over 200 species, including big-horn sheep, the imperiled Greater sage-grouse, pronghorn, and 28 endemic plants found nowhere else in the world. With over one hundred eighty river-miles under Wild & Scenic protection and short rafting season, the seldom-traveled Owyhee River provides visitors with a unique rafting and wilderness experience.
When Apr 17, 2017 07:00 PM to
Apr 22, 2017 03:00 PM
Where Launch from Rome, Oregon
Contact Name
Contact Phone (541) 330-2638
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PLEASE NOTE: This trip is FULL with a 30-person wait list.

ABOUT THE PLACE:

Discover steep, cathedral-like canyons, desert vistas framed by blooming wildflowers, soaring raptors and singing canyon wrens on the magnificent Owyhee, one of America's wildest rivers. Also known as Oregon’s Grand Canyon, the Owyhee Canyonlands offer soaring cliffs, colorful rock formations, hot springs and ancient Native American petroglyphs. The Owyhee area supports over 200 species, including big-horn sheep, the imperiled Greater sage-grouse, pronghorn, and 28 endemic plants found nowhere else in the world. With over one hundred eighty river-miles under Wild & Scenic protection and a short rafting season, the seldom-traveled Owyhee River is on many people's bucket list. This trip provides visitors with a completely unique rafting and wilderness experience.

HERE is a map of the approximate area for reference.

Whistling Bird rapid, Owyhee River. Photo: Corie Harlan
Whistling Bird rapid, Owyhee River. Photo: Corie Harlan

TRIP HIGHLIGHTS AND CHALLENGES:

    • It's spectacular: See some of the most remote canyons, abundant wildlife and pristine waters in all of southeastern Oregon
    • It's a rush: Explore all the wonders and many rapids of the Owyhee River and canyons with other adventure-seekers
    • It's increasingly rare: A four-year drought resulting in low flows has limited the already-short rafting season in the Owyhee. Getting a chance to make this trip is special, indeed
    • It's unpredictable: Be ready for early starts, long days and highly unpredictable weather on a very wild river that may leave you wet, cold and tired


      TRIP TIMELINE:

        • Monday evening, April 17 | Arrive at Camp
          Trip participants arrive and camp self-sufficiently at the Rome boat launch the evening prior to departure.

        • Tuesday morning, April 18 | 8 a.m. Pacific Time | Launch
          Meet at the put-in at Rome (approximately 5 hours from Bend, 8 hours from Portland, and 2.5 hours from Boise), where gear is packed into waterproof bags, life-jackets fitted, and safety precautions are reviewed before launching. HERE is a Google map showing the location of the put-in on the river.

        • Wednesday, April 19 - Friday, April 21 | Owyhee River time
          Each morning, freshly brewed coffee is available by 7:00 a.m. and breakfast is served at 8:00 a.m.  We are on the river by 10:00 a.m.  Days on the river are leisurely, allowing time to respond to the moods of the canyon and the preference of guests.

        • Saturday, April 22 | 3 p.m. | Take-out
          Arrive at the take-out at Birch Creek.  Return transportation to Rome and your vehicle is provided.  As an alternative, you may (at an additional cost) have your vehicle shuttled to the take-out.


        THE WORK (AND PLAY):

        Depending on river flows, we may be able to map some sections of fence for repair to keep cows out of the cow-free river and monitor the general condition of riverside areas proposed for Wilderness. This will mainly involve day-hikes up and out of the river canyon.

        There will be time to hike and explore the side canyons and spectacular geologic formations of areas such as Chalk Basin and Sentinel Canyon.  Wildlife including antelope, mule deer, bighorn sheep, hawks, osprey, golden eagles, heron, otter and coyotes are abundant in the area.  We’ll explore petroglyphs and historic homesteads and perhaps get a chance to sit in some incredible hot springs.

        Photos are essential to sharing the wonders of the Owyhee and spreading the word about what the Owyhee Canyonlands campaign is striving to protect. Please bring your cameras and take lots of photos to share with us and the other folks on the trip!

        Other than that your job is to fall in love with the area, soak it all in, and get inspired to help us protect this area for current and future generations to enjoy.

            2016 Owyhee River Rafting Trip. Photo: Corie Harlan
            2016 Owyhee River Rafting Trip. Photo: Corie Harlan

            CAMP & FOOD
            This is fully outfitted raft camping.  Camp is selected from available riverside beaches by 4 p.m. Late afternoon there is time to hike, read or relax. Camping gear is included and is first rate with spacious tents, comfortable pads and warm cozy sleeping bags. The evening is time to enjoy wonderful dinners, campfire conversation and star gazing with fellow river travelers.  Delicious meals are included, starting with lunch the first day (18th) through lunch the last day (22nd) and special dietary needs are easily accommodated. Wine is served with dinner on full-sized tables and an assortment of hot and cold drinks are always available.

            Meals:
            With your help, scrumptious meals are prepared and provided starting with lunch on April 18 (you will need to bring yourself a breakfast to eat that morning) and ending with lunch on April 22. (Recommend dinner at the Rome Café. However, emergency food recommended in case the café is closed unpredictably, which can sometimes happen with remote establishments)

            Beverages:

            Water is available at all times, as well as drink mixes.  Wine is served with dinner.  Coffee, juices and cocoa will be available at breakfast.  For those who wish to bring personal beverages such as sodas, beer, wine and spirits, some room will be provided in the coolers to keep them cold.  Please use cans for beers/sodas and box/bag for wine to reduce the huge volume of trash and likelihood of broken glass.

            WEATHER
            Owyhee weather is unpredictable. Some spring-time journeys will bring freezing temperatures, biting winds, snow, and conditions that will test your mettle as you sit in one slightly damp raft. Other years its been sunny and in the 70's. The overall spirit and mood of the trip can vary greatly depending on the weather. You'll need to plan, pack and prepare accordingly.

            RAPIDS
            Many sections of the river are calm, providing relaxing time to float and enjoy the scenery and conversation with fellow rafters. The rapids are moderate (Class I-III), with a few such as Whistling Bird, Bull’s-eye and Montgomery (Class III-IV) adding just the right amount of excitement and challenge.  Your river trip can be as active as you so desire - join a paddle crew, try an inflatable kayak or sit back and enjoy the ride in an oar raft.

            Ouzel 2016 Rafting Trip. Photo: Linda Bonotto
            2016 Owyhee River Rafting Trip. Photo: Linda Bonotto

            DIFFICULTY RATING:
            3 out of 5
            . The rating is highly dependent on the weather. Participants can expect extended exposure to elements (sun, rain, snow) and moderate physical activity while paddling or hiking.  Side hikes to the canyon rims are strenuous over short periods of time. Click HERE for a description of the trip difficulty rating system.

            REGISTRATION & PARTICIPANT RESPONSIBILITIES

            • PLEASE NOTE: This trip is FULL with a 30-person wait list.
            • Cost: $1000 per person
            • Registration: After receiving confirmation from ONDA that a spot is available on the trip, a deposit of $100 made payable to Ouzel Outfitters is required. ONDA staff will be in touch to facilitate payments and to help participants complete required registration forms.
            • Transportation: Participants need to provide their own transportation to and from launch-site at Rome. Participants need to arrive the evening before launch, Monday April 17.
            • Gear: A detailed packing list and interpretive information will be sent to you by Ouzel upon confirmation of your reservation. Key gear to pack includes:
              -Layerable clothing
              -Camera
              -Water bottle
              -Snacks for non-meal hours


            PROVIDED BY OUZEL OUTFITTERS

            Rafts and related equipment:

            • Dry bags
            • Personal flotation devices (PFDs)
            • Kitchen equipment, chairs, dining tables, firepans, toilet equipment
            • River library and games
            • Paddle jackets (basically a hoodless waterproof jacket to protect you from splashes etc. but not a substitute for a real gortex rain-coat for heavy rain…)
            • Meals and beverages as described above.

            REFUNDS & ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

            • Contact: ONDA’s Owyhee Coordinator: Corie Harlan, corie@onda.org. An ONDA conservation team member will join the actual rafting trip.
            • Group size is limited to 14 participants
            • Cancellations due to low water will involve a full refund
            • If this trip is cancelled due to low water, we will offer an alternative land-based exploration of the Owyhee Country
            • This Owyhee Canyonlands Rafting trip is operated by Ouzel Outfitters, an authorized BLM Special Recreation Permit holder.

            REGISTRATION:

              PLEASE NOTE: This trip is FULL with a 30-person wait list.

              Registration application and medical form required for this trip, and others, by clicking HERE.  This form only needs to be filled out only once per year: you can join additional trips in the future by contacting trip leaders directly.  You will receive a confirmation e-mail within 10 working days of submitting the form.  The confirmation e-mail will provide information regarding which trips you are on the “participant list” for, and which trips are full and so your name has been placed on the “wait list”. Five weeks before the trip starts the trip leader will send out an RSVP e-mail to make sure everyone is still available to participate.  Three weeks before the trip begins, the trip leader will send out an e-mail with additional information, maps, driving instructions, car-pooling options etc.  However, if you have any questions in the meantime, please don't hesitate to contact the trip leader at the e-mail provided.

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                Oregon Natural Desert Association
                50 SW Bond Street, Suite 4,
                Bend, OR 97702
                Tel: (541) 330-2638
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