Owyhee River Rafting Trip


Oregon Desert Trail Map

Oregon Desert Trail Map


Aaron Tani, Sage Society Member

Aaron Tani, Sage Society Member

“It feels good to support ONDA on a monthly basis, because I know they never stop supporting our public lands. ONDA works to help make our lands a better place for the future, and I feel like I’m a part of that every month with my support.”


Craig Terry, ONDA member and stewardship volunteer

Craig Terry, ONDA member and stewardship volunteer

“The people I have had the privilege to share time with each season keep me volunteering again and again. Who else but those ONDA staff leaders would make fresh coffee at dawn each morning or pack a watermelon all day to serve as a reward under a juniper in a steep canyon?” Craig, who grew up in northwestern Nevada, says ONDA connects him with places he loves and a mission he believes in. “My grandfather and his father put up wire fences for their ranching needs. Taking out barbed wire sort of completes a circle for me.”

Organizer: Corie Harlan

Start Date: 4/25/2019 (Arrive at Rome Boat Launch by evening of 4/24/2019)

End Date: 4/30/2019

Region: Owyhee Canyonlands

Difficulty Rating: 3 out of 5

Maximum Group Size: 14 participants

About the place

ONDA partners with Ouzel Outfitters to provide visitors with a completely unique river rafting and wilderness experience on the Wild and Scenic Owyhee River. You’ll 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 and remote rivers. Also known as Oregon’s Grand Canyon, the Owyhee Canyonlands offer soaring cliffs, colorful rock formations, hot springs and ancient Native American petroglyphs. This area of Oregon’s high desert 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 a notoriously short season and unpredictable weather, any trip on the seldom-traveled Wild & Scenic Owyhee River is an adventure, earning it a spot on many people’s bucket lists.

About the stewardship work

This is ONDA’s first year working with in partnership with the Vale BLM District to remove unnecessary fence from within the canyon. We’ll also monitor pinch points in the canyon to check the condition of fences, look for the presence of cattle, and mask an old trail to help discourage illegal ATV use.

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

Photos are essential to highlighting the wonders of the Owyhee and the need to protect this place. Please bring your cameras!

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.

Trip timeline

  • Wednesday, April 24, (5-7 p.m.): Trip participants arrive and camp self-sufficiently at the Rome boat launch the evening prior to departure.
  • Thursday, April 25 (8 a.m. PST): 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.
  • Friday, April 26: Our first full day on the river. 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 27: Our fence pull day! We will arrive at the planned worksite, have a brief safety orientation and get to work. Plan to be finished with the fence by lunch. A fun afternoon hike will be available to those who are interested.
  • Sunday, April 28:  Another day of floating through the canyon.
  • Monday, April 29: Our last full day of floating.
  • Tuesday, April 30 (3 p.m.): 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.


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 (25th) through lunch the last day (30th) 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.


With your help, scrumptious meals are prepared and provided starting with lunch on April 25 (you will need to bring yourself a breakfast to eat that morning) and ending with lunch on April 30. (Dinner at the Rome Café is a popular option. However, we recommend bringing your own food in case the café is closed unpredictably, which can sometimes happen with remote establishments.)


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.


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 70s. The overall spirit and mood of the trip can vary greatly depending on the weather. You’ll need to plan, pack and prepare accordingly.


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.


Level 3: Challenging

The rating is highly dependent on the weather. Participants can expect extended exposure to elements (sun, rain, snow) and moderate physical activity while fence pulling, paddling, or hiking.  Side hikes to the canyon rims are strenuous over short periods of time.

Participant Responsibilities

  • Cost: $1399 per person
  • Registration: After receiving confirmation from ONDA that a spot is available on the trip, a deposit of $100 made payable directly 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, Wednesday April 24.
  • 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; layered clothing, camera, water bottle and 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 and Additional Information:

  • Group size is limited to 14 participants
  • Full refunds are provided if cancellations due to low water occur
  • This Owyhee Canyonlands Rafting trip is operated by Ouzel Outfitters, an authorized BLM Special Recreation Permit holder.


An ONDA registration application and medical form are required for this trip. Check the box next to each trip you would like to attend. You only need to fill this form out once per year.

 Apply Now

What happens next?

You will receive a confirmation email within 10 working days of submitting your form. The confirmation email will provide information regarding which trips you are on the “participant list” for, and which trips are full, and therefore you have been placed on the “waitlist.”

Six weeks before the start of the trip, the trip leader will send out an RSVP to make sure everyone is still able to participate. Based on RSVPs, open spaces will be backfilled with people from the waitlist.

Three weeks before the trip start date, registered and confirmed participants will receive driving instructions, maps, car-pooling options, and additional information in an email sent by the trip leader

If you have any questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact the trip leader.