The Owyhee River’s reputation as a big-time whitewater river is well deserved, but there is a quieter side to these beautiful canyons. In between the rapids there are long calm pools allowing time to take in the 1000 ft sheer wall canyons of the Owyhee. Also, we often see bighorn sheep as we drift along, or surprise them when we are exploring the tight-walled side canyons. We’ll also visit some historic trapping and homestead cabins along the way and marvel at the determination of those who carved out a living in this rugged country!
There are more than 250 miles of navigable river in the Owyhee Canyonlands! We are permitted on many different sections. These miles combine the South Fork, East Fork, and Main Owyhee. There are many different sections and access points to these canyons, leaving the possibilities endless. An adventure into the Owyhee does not only provide an adventure on the river but likely a 4-wheel drive mission to access many of these remote places!
We break down the Owyhee into three sections: Upper Owyhee, Middle Owyhee, and Lower Owyhee.
The Middle Owyhee
The Middle Owyhee is from Crutchers Crossing access to Rome, an impressive and wild section! This section has more water, which makes for bigger waves and holes, than the upper section. This can be some of the most exciting wilderness rafting in Oregon! Rapids like Ledge and Halfmile are exciting highlights in this section. Widowmaker rapid is a challenging class V obstacle in this canyon. Depending on water levels guides may line boats or run them through without passengers. In addition to all the whitewater, there is also great hiking to extraordinary vistas, Native American petroglyphs and great side canyons to explore. A great run through Ledge or the afternoon song of the canyon wren on a quiet bench can be a highlight of the day. Looking out over miles of open country really gives you a feeling for what one guest called the “awesome vastness” of this country. Bring an adventurous spirit and be ready for a great time!
* When running the Middle Owyhee, one can plan for one thing, but may get dealt a different hand. Water levels and road conditions can sometimes limit what exact section we run. Road conditions into Crutchers (our launch site) can get seriously muddy with rain, but tend to dry out quickly in the windy, dry desert climate.