Owyhee River Super Adventure

March 8, 2017

The snowpack in the Owyhee Canyonlands is looking promising for the 2017 boating season.  We did have some February melt that bumped the Owyhee up to 20,000 cfs and the Bruneau to 6,000 cfs.  Almost breaking an all time historical peak flows for the Bruneau.  Even with this early melt that occurred, the snowpack for these rivers is still well above average.

Lambert Gorge Owyhee

Owyhee Falls in Lambert Gorge, Upper Owyhee

On the Owyhee Super Adventure 2017, spend 13 days on the upper sections of this “off the beaten path”, remote and spectacular wilderness river.  The upper six-day section will begin either at Duck Valley or Garat Crossing and we will float down to Crutcher Crossing.  The whitewater between Duck Valley and Garat can become too tight and technical if flows are low.  If we happen to have lower water, we will start at Garat, which between there and Crutcher Crossing is mostly a scenic float with two portages and a few other smaller rapids.  This section through the Lambert Gorge is one of the most scenics of all the Owyhee sections and one that sees very few travelers.  If we decide to start at Garat, this would make for just over a 40 mile trip in six days and would allow for plenty of amazing hiking opportunities.  The portage at Owyhee Falls and potentially Thread the Needle combined with challenging 4×4 roads to access the river is what keeps many people away from these sections.  We have 4X4 trucks with big tires and chains (hopefully we don’t have to use chains) to access the river in this rugged country.  We have also designed small rafts to carry gear, like a custom light weight fire pan and kitchen to try to cut down on weight.  The Aire expedition BakRAFT is a new lightweight inflatable kayak weighing only 10 lbs.  This new lightweight craft design is perfect for the Owyhee as when it comes time to portage, they can easily be carried around.  The expedition model BakRAFT also allows room to carry personal gear in your kayak.  On this trip, we outfit you with an ultra light kayak, paddle, lifejacket, and dry suit.  A drysuit is a key component to this trip.  The suit allows you to stay warm in variable conditions and have dry feet which makes a huge difference in comfort level.  Dry suits have revolutionized spring and cold weather boating!  On most commercial trips, guests are not given a dry suit because of the expensive cost of the suits and required maintenance.  However, on the Owyhee, we believe this is the only way to experience these sections of the river in April and be comfortable.  We also provide dry bags, all the food, professional guides, transportation, and all the other things standard on our river trips.

Owyhee BakRaft

When we reach Crutcher Crossing, we will camp one night at the exchange point.  Those who have paddled the upper and do not wish to continue on the lower will head back to Boise and those wishing to just do the middle will join the trip here.  From Crutcher Crossing to Rome, we have designed a seven-day hiker special.  We will bring in bigger boats at the exchange and resupply gear and food before we head downstream.  From here down, the whitewater picks up a notch with the challenging rapids like Cabin, Cable, Ledge, Halfmile, and Widowmaker.  These rapids will require careful scouting and potential lining or portaging in places.  Some of these rapids we may run the boats through empty, but ask the passengers to walk around.  All of these rapids can be walked around as a passenger if you want to see the magnificent Middle Owyhee Canyon, but are not looking for whitewater thrills.  Being a hiker special we will try to allow as much time as possible to explore beautiful side canyons and climb to the rim to look down on the river canyon cut through ancient volcanoes.

This is a unique opportunity to spend almost two weeks in the upper sections of the Owyhee River.  These river canyons can prove challenging with variable Idaho spring weather, difficult whitewater and remote access points.  Often when driving to the river, you think you are on as much of an off road 4×4 tour as you are headed for a river trip.

Last spring driving into Garat, we had heavy rains the night before and turned the Owyhee roads into a greasy muddy mess.  When we got to the pipeline crossing near Garat and I pulled out a set of chains for each of the already aggressive mud terrains Toyo tires, everyone eyes looked at me with questionable judgment on whether this was going to work.  As we rallied down the muddy road and clumps of mud the size baseballs landed on the hood everyone knew we were in for an adventure!  Owyhee Brown, our old Ford truck delivered us to the water’s edge once again and we were on our way.

The Owyhee is not the place for everyone, but if you like to step off the beaten path for the real adventure, this could be the trip is for you!  2017 is looking like a good year in the Owyhee and if this sounds like fun, join us this April for the Owyhee Super Adventure!  The lower Owyhee is much easier in every regard and still a great trip, so if you want to visit the Owyhee with a little less adventure, join us for a lower in May.

Upper Owyhee
Duck Valley or Garat to Crutchers Crossing
Date:  April 17th – 22nd
Cost:  $1,854

Middle Owyhee
Crutcher Crossing to Rome
Date April 23rd – 29th
Cost:  $2,054

Lower Owyhee
Rome to Birch Creek
Date May 9th – 13th
Cost:  $1,236