There are more than 250 miles of navigable river in the Owyhee Canyonlands! Each section offers abundant hiking opportunities, wildlife, whitewater, pioneer history, and an extraordinary glimpse into geologic time. Spring on the Owyhee during the snowmelt runoff is truly glorious: the wildflowers are blooming, the red-wing blackbirds are singing, and the rapids get exciting. A hike to the canyon rim to spot an antelope in the distance, an eagle chasing its prey, or just to admire the “awesome vastness” of this country is often a trip highlight. We have extensive experience on the Owyhee, and all the different sections and access points to these river canyons create endless possibilities for customizing your trip.
In 2009, the Owyhee Initiative designated 317 miles of the Owyhee and Jarbidge-Bruneau River systems as wild and scenic. The same legislation designated 517,000 acres of the surrounding land as wilderness, protecting these rivers and the landscape encompassing them.
We break the Owyhee into three sections: the Upper Owyhee, Middle Owyhee, and Lower Owyhee.
The Lower Owyhee
The Lower Owyhee makes a great introduction to the Canyonlands, as it is much more accessible than the upper canyons. The scenery is more open, with some amazing rock formations and vibrant colors, particularly in the Chalk Basin area. This stretch is full of class II-III whitewater, which makes for a great family trip or vacation for all experience levels. The Lower also has the best hiking options for easy rim access and amazing vistas. Other attractions include excellent camping options, exceptional birding, and Native American petroglyphs. We bring along paddle-boats and inflatable kayaks for those who want a little more action!
Access to the Lower Owyhee is much easier and logistically simple compared to other sections. The trip begins in the small country town of Rome, Oregon and ends at the Birch Creek take-out. Call us for details and we’ll make sure you get exactly what you’re looking for!