Bizarre, beautiful, and like no other, when the Owyhee River rushes to life, it’s one of the best spring rafting trips in the West with mild to intense whitewater, excellent wildlife viewing, and intriguing canyon scenery.
Our 6-day Owyhee River rafting trip is a guide favorite and an avid paddler’s dream trip through Southeastern Oregon’s Grand Canyon. A rarely-visited, but mesmerizing river, the Wild & Scenic Owyhee is a place where gleaming basalt bluffs cascade down to desolate, soft beaches speckled with the lure of undiscovered gemstones. And there’s wildlife everywhere. Eagles, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, and mountain lions are native to the region.
Due to a short window of raftable flows on the Owyhee, this Owyhee Canyonlands adventure is typically only available as an early-season rafting escape in April and May when water levels are at their peak.
What to Expect
Itinerary & Map
Itinerary at a Glance
We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every trip is different depending upon the group, other trips on the water, camp locations, and sometimes the weather. The following is a sample of what your trip might be like:
The Day Before Your Trip
The evening before your trip, we’ll meet for a pre-trip meeting in Boise, ID. This is an opportunity to meet your fellow travelers and trip leader, and ask any last-minute questions.
The group will meet up first thing in the morning for a 3-hour drive southwest to Rome, Oregon. En route, we’ll stop for fishing licenses and any last-minute items in the town of Jordan Valley before camping at the put-in.
Each morning, you’ll be greeted with hot coffee, tea, and cocoa and a hearty breakfast. After you pack your belongings, you’ll have some time to relax while camp is broken down and the boats are loaded before we launch on our Owyhee River rafting trip.
Our first day on the river brings rapids of varying sizes, including Artillery, which we usually stop to scout. As interesting clay and sandstone formations reveal themselves ahead, we enter into the moonscape terrain of the Owyhee Badlands region. Ideally, we’ll arrive at camp each afternoon with plenty of time to relax, explore, or chat with new friends as the guides prepare a delicious meal.
Whistling Bird rapid is the highlight for today. With a difficult hairpin turn against a dramatic cliff face, it’s a certain scout and great photo opportunity. From here, we enter a narrow section of river bounded by precipitous cliffs.
Further downstream, Lambert Rocks and Jackson Creek may entice us on extended walks up into colorful side canyons and along scenic overlooks. Small hot springs near the river add another interesting geologic dimension, and if we’re lucky, may provide the opportunity for a dip.
Today, there is more whitewater excitement, culminating with a wild Class IV chute. Afterward, we may visit Hole in the Ground Ranch, a historic remnant of the past.
At low water, Birch Creek is used for our take-out. In high water, we travel on to the Owyhee Reservoir, where we have a short motorboat tow to Leslie Gulch. The intensity of the colorful rock formations makes up for the lack of current as we cross the lake. From the take-out, it’s a 2.5-hour drive back to civilization and hot showers in Boise.
Meeting Time & Place
8 PM, the evening before your trip
Approximately 4-6 PM to Boise
Dates & Prices
Save $200 on 2024 departures when you’re one of the first to book by March 31 and request “Premier Pricing” over the phone.
|2024 Departures||Adult Price||Youth Price|
|April 18, 25||$2,099||$2,099|
The Need-to-Know Info
Included in Your Trip Cost
Not Included in Your Trip Cost
- Pre- and post-trip transportation, accommodations, and meals
- Insurance of any kind, including a travel protection plan
The number and variety of boats on an OARS trip will vary based on water levels, the number of participants, and other factors we take into account when planning your adventure. Please be aware that in doing so we will ask you to share boat time with your fellow travelers. We don’t assign boats, nor can we guarantee exactly which crafts we bring, but trust us to provide you with the best possible mix for you and others on your trip.
Learn more about the OARS Fleet and the boats that may be a part of your experience: Oar raft, dory (depending on water levels), inflatable kayak, or paddle raft.
After each active day on the river, we pull ashore to camp for the night. Our first task is to unload the boats using a fire-line of crew and passengers to expedite the process. Individuals then collect their waterproof bags and locate an area on the beach to camp for the night.
While you put up your tent, the guides will set up the kitchen and central dining/seating area with camp chairs. They will also locate a secluded area away from camp to set up the portable toilet, where privacy is assured.
As guides prepare dinner, hors d’oeuvres are served. This is an opportunity to relax, enjoy a drink if you wish, and reflect on the day with your fellow traveling companions.
In the morning, the first wake-up call lets you know that coffee, hot water for tea or cocoa, juice, fresh fruit, and cold cereal are ready. You can fill your mug and grab a bite, then begin to pack up your personal belongings and sleep gear as the guides prepare breakfast. After breakfast, the entire camp is broken down and packed up. Once the guides have all of the gear loaded back onto the boats, we’ll head downstream to see what new adventures await us.
More info about Meals & Dietary Restrictions can be found on our Trip Resources page.
The weather for early-season trips on the Owyhee can be unpredictable. One should be prepared for severe temperature shifts and the potential for snow and/or rain.
Average Air & Water Temperatures
|Air (Day) °F||Air (Night) °F||Water °F|
Before booking your trip with OARS, there are a few important considerations we’d like you to know about.
Reservations and Deposits
A $400/person deposit is required at the time of booking. Deposits may be made by check, money order, or Visa/Mastercard (American Express and Discover incur a 3% processing fee). Prices are in US Dollars, and all payments must be made in US Dollars. Payment of the deposit establishes your acceptance of our complete Terms and Conditions. Individual departures and trip capacity are strictly limited by the managing agency.
Canceling your trip after your deposit is processed will incur cancellation fees because OARS has absorbed costs on your behalf and will turn others away who would like to book the spaces we’re holding for you. Final payment is due 60 days before departure. Accounts on which final payment has not been received 50 days before the departure date will be canceled without exception.
Cancellations and Refunds
Your deposit is fully refundable, less a 3% processing fee, for 7 days after you book when you submit a deposit 7 days or more before the final payment due date.
If you must cancel your reservation after the rescission period described above, your cancellation fee will be determined according to the schedule below. We do regret we cannot make exceptions to the cancellation policy for any reason, including foul weather, poor air quality, wildfire activity, acts of terrorism, civil unrest, or personal emergencies. There is no refund for arriving late or leaving a trip early. For these reasons, we strongly urge you to consider purchasing a travel protection plan.
|Date of Cancellation||Cancellation Fee|
|180 or more days before your trip||$50/person|
|179 – 90 days before your trip||$100/person|
|89 – 60 days before your trip||$200/person|
|59 days or less before your trip||Full Fare|
Please note that different deposit/cancellation policies may apply for charter groups. Refer to the group organizer’s confirmation email for details.
OARS reserves the right to cancel any trip due to insufficient registration or other factors that make the trip impractical to operate. In such instances, we will inform you at least 45 days before departure. Do not make nonrefundable travel arrangements unless you have spoken to your Adventure Consultant regarding the status of your trip.
If a trip must be canceled or postponed due to force majeure (factors outside the control of OARS), OARS will provide full credit for payments made toward future travel, or a refund less a 5% service fee plus any nonrefundable payments made on your behalf to 3rd-party suppliers. OARS will make good faith efforts to recover deposits made on your behalf to 3rd-party suppliers, however, we can’t guarantee recovery of any or all of the advance payments made. OARS is not responsible for expenses incurred by participants in preparation for a canceled trip.
If you need to move your reservation to a different trip during the same season, or to a credit account for the following year, there is a $25/person fee up until 90 days before departure for a one-time transfer of your payment. Transfer requests made 89 days or less before departure will be treated like a cancellation according to the schedule above.
O.A.R.S. Dories, Inc. operates on the Owyhee River as a permitted outfitter of the Bureau of Land Management
Ancestral Lands Acknowledgement
We respect and recognize that many of the river canyons on state and federal lands where we operate are the ancestral homes of indigenous communities. Where we operate on the Owyhee River between Rome, Oregon and the Owyhee Reservoir we acknowledge the territories of the Northern Paiute.
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