The wild Owyhee River whittles a dramatic, narrow canyon through the highlands of southern Idaho and Oregon, cutting through the rhyolite and basalt plateau as it has for millennia. There is a reason this tributary of the Bruneau has so often been likened to the Grand Canyon. But unlike the Grand, the few that venture to this extraordinary river have its magic all to themselves—the sound of songbirds echoing against thousand-foot sheer canyon walls, the springtime bloom of desert wildflowers, and rapids that vary from fun, Class III waves and holes to technical whitewater.

We offer trips on several sections of this remote river, and multiple access points to the canyons make it possible for you to customize your own trip and schedule. Just ask us for details!

Similar Trips: Middle Owyhee •  Jarbidge Bruneau •  Main Salmon

Departure Month: May
Region: Oregon
Rating: Beginner, Intermediate
Pricing: Under $1500

Owyhee River was listed as one of America’s Best Adventures by National Geographic in 2010!

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!

Owyhee Photography – LISK GALLERY

Book a Lower Owyhee Trip

Lower Owyhee
April 24th – 28th
May 1st – 5th
*other launch dates available on Saturdays
5 – Day Trip ~ $1250.00

Other dates available upon request. Please call for details.

Included: Your trip includes transportation from Boise to the river and back to Boise at the end of the trip. All meals are included starting with lunch on the first day and ending with lunch on the last day. We provide sleeping bags, pads, and tents (or bring your own gear and receive a $40 discount), dry bags, and wetsuits.

Not Included:
Cost does not include hotels before or after the trip, alcohol, or guide gratuities.

Charter trips
are available for groups of 6 or more. This means your group has reserved the entire trip. Ask for details.
Group discounts
based upon the number of people in your party.
are also available for children. Please contact us for details.

Reservations can be made online or by calling our office.
A 25% non-refundable deposit is required to reserve your spot. The remainder is due 45 days prior to trip departure.

After your reservation, we will promptly send you a trip packet including general information on your trip, your invoice and statement, a gear list, and medical and liability waiver forms that you will need to return to our office.

Operating quality trips is a costly operation with no margin for losses resulting from late cancellations. The space you reserve is held for you, and this may mean turning others away. Each trip is planned for the number of reserved spaces, guides scheduled, supplies bought, and rafts and vehicles assigned. If notice of cancellation is 45 days prior to departure, you may transfer to any other trip in the same season without penalty. A cancellation less than 45 days before the trip is non-refundable. Depending on circumstances, we can discuss other trip options.

Travel Insurance: We strongly recommend that you protect yourself with a short term traveler’s insurance policy.  Trip cancellation will cover your losses on non-refundable air and land cost on unexpected cancellations.

Cancelled Trips: We reserve the right to cancel a trip due to insufficient reservations, weather or water conditions. In such cases, a full refund for the trip is given. If possible, we will offer an option of a different trip of comparable type.

This trip begins and ends in Boise, Idaho
Most airlines offer flights into Boise. You will need to arrive the evening before your trip begins. We usually have an orientation around 6 p.m. that night.
Please make hotel reservations at the Best Western Inn in Boise for the evening before your trip and the evening your trip ends.  If you wish to make other arrangements, please give us a call and we will be happy to assist you.
Best Western Vista Inn
Boise, Idaho


Day before the trip: Arrive in Boise. In the evening, we’ll get together to hand out gear and answer any last minute questions.

Day 1: We’ll get an early start for our drive to the river. We will have lunch, gear up and have a river safety talk before starting our float.

Day 2-5: We usually have a dutch oven breakfast around the campfire in the morning. After packing our bags and strapping our loads down we’ll hit the water. Our days on the river vary with many opportunities for hiking, exploring and relaxing around our beautiful camps. We try to customize our activities to the interests of each particular group. The Lower Owyhee has a consistent mix of Class II-III rapids that are a great fit for all experience levels. We’ll usually get to camp in the early evening, have some time for walks, resting, or socializing, followed by a delicious meal cooked over the campfire and in dutch ovens.

Day 6: We’ll eat lunch along the river and have a mellow float to our takeout in mid-afternoon. Drive back to Boise.

Owyhee River Suggested Gear

Download Printable Check List


This is the suggested gear list for this particular trip. Having the right gear is important to making it the best possible experience for you. Most of the gear listed you will have or you can use it year-round on any outdoor excursion (football games, boating, skiing, etc.) We want you to have everything you will need to be comfortable and happy.

Please: no stereos, radios, cell phones or watches

GEAR PROVIDED – we provide LIFE JACKETS, 2 WATERPROOF DUFFEL BAGS (one for sleeping bag, pad & ground cloth, and one for clothing), WATERPROOF DAY BAG for items you would like accessible during the day (dry shirt, suntan lotion, camera, etc.), and WETSUITS.  You may use our SLEEPING BAGS, PADS, AND TENTS, or bring your own and receive a discount.


• SYNTHETIC SLEEPING BAG (WARM EVEN WHEN WET), PAD, TENT, GROUND CLOTH (for sleeping out under the stars and or for spreading your gear on).


• RAIN GEAR… good jacket and pants, poncho’s aren’t enough. AVOID VINYL & CHEAP PLASTICS.

• LIGHTWEIGHT SHIRTS…one long sleeved.

• 1 PAIR LONG PANTS… synthetic are best

• SHORTS…synthetics dry faster – good to wear over swimsuit.

• SWIMSUIT…nylon is best because it dries faster.

• CAP TO BLOCK SUN, & WOOL OR SYNTHETIC HAT for cool evenings…a must for everyone.  In case of wind attach with a shoe string.

• GLOVES OR MITTENS…synthetic or wool.

• WARM SHIRTS…wool or polar fleece (2)

• LONG UNDERWEAR…Polypro or Capilene (not cotton) tops & bottoms.

• WARM JACKET…synthetic piles are popular because they are warm even when damp.


FOOTWEAR: The comfort of your feet will make a big difference in your enjoyment of the trip!

• HIKING BOOTS or sturdy walking shoes …well broken in. No brand new boots please.

• SOCKS…3-4 pair, 2 heavy (wool), fleece socks are also nice for in camp.

• THIN LINER SOCKS…nylon or synthetic, not cotton.

• RUNNING SHOES OR SANDALS…for around camp and short hikes.

• NEOPRENE SOCKS (described on back side) and old running shoes… this is the best combination we’ve found for keeping your feet warm and safe on the river.

• SUNGLASSES AND TIES FOR GLASSES…protects against glare.  Pack an extra pair of prescription glasses even if  you wear contacts.

• SUNTAN LOTION…maximum strength sun block & moisture lotion.



• FLASHLIGHT…small one is fine, headlamps work great.

• WATER BOTTLE…1 liter.

• CAMERA & FILM…bring more than you think you need, just in case.

• SMALL DAY OR FANNY PACK…for side excursions.


• ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE…if desired (unbreakable containers).

• BINOCULARS (optional).

Wilderness River Outfitters provide a MAJOR FIRST AID KIT.  However, we do recommend you bring your own preferred personal medication and accessories (Advil, Tylenol, aspirin, Band-Aids, cold medicine).

Reviews from the Owyhee River Trip

Keith B ~ 2017

On a previous trip to Oregon, I had learned about the Owyhee River. It’s only runnable for a few weeks each spring. The river sounded wonderful and I made a plan to return one day.

There are three sections to the Owyhee. The Upper and Middle Sections are very remote and have some great whitewater sections. The Lower Owyhee is easily accessible, tamer, and the scenery is less dramatic.

There are only about 3 companies that ever run the Upper and Middle Sections. Wilderness River Outfitters has been doing it for years. They offered a trip on the Upper or Middle and they also had an option to do the entire Upper and Middle back-to-back. We opted to do the combination trip for 13 days. We started in Idaho and ended up near Rome, Oregon.

We’ve done a lot of river trips all over the world. But we’ve never done one this long and in such a remote area. The scenery is fabulous and is national park quality. The canyon has stupendous rock formations and felt like a cross between Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon National Parks.

Wilderness River Outfitters is the perfect company for this trip. They know the river very well and they are very conscious about safety. The guides are all friendly, kind and helpful. Oh, and they’re great cooks, too! The quality of all the gear was outstanding.

If you go on the Owyhee you should be aware of a couple of things. Since the river can only be run in the spring, the weather can vary greatly. Some days were sunny and warm and others were rainy and cold. Use the drysuits offered by the company and you’ll be much more comfortable.

Also, there is a physical component of this trip that we’ve not dealt with on other rivers. Due to the remoteness and infrequent use of the river, there aren’t established trails and portage routes. Depending on water levels, there are at least 2 significant portages around unrunnable rapids. With no established trails, it means helping to haul a bunch of gear over huge boulders or while clinging to mountain slopes—sometimes for a lengthy distance.

Wilderness River Outfitters does other trips in some pretty remarkable places. They do a couple of trips in Alaska, a couple in Montana, and an annual trip on the Colorado through the Grand Canyon. They also do standard trips for the entire summer on the Middle Fork of the Salmon and the main Salmon in Idaho.

We really enjoyed this company and we’re currently looking at some of their other remote trips for the future. We hope to see Seth and his crew again sometime soon!