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With its headwaters in southwestern Idaho and northern Nevada, the Owyhee River flows northward through the extreme southwest corner of Oregon to join the Snake River near Ontario. The river’s journey carves a series of deep and dramatic canyons – a sanctuary of life in an isolated and barren landscape.
The best way to fully explore the wonders of this place is by raft. With no dams to control water levels the float season lasts for only a few months from March through May. The rapids are mostly moderate allowing a wide range of skill levels. Endless hiking opportunities in this portion of the canyon reward the walker with a profusion of desert wildflowers, excellent birding and frequent discoveries of rock carvings and ancient campsites. Hot springs are present at several camps to reward and relax the weary rafter.
After launching from Rome, the flat lands of the Rome Valley soon give way to the first of many dramatic gorges where massive eagles’ nests cling to the cliffs above and inviting sandy beaches begin to appear. The first moderate rapids are just around the corner. As the rafts move deeper into the canyon, fantastic formations reveal a tangled geologic history of inland seas, earthquakes and violent volcanic eruptions. On the third day of the journey the rafts enter Green Dragon Canyon where massive cliffs rise dramatically from the rivers edge to over 1000 feet and the low rumble of class IV Montgomery Rapid reminds one that they have entered a place untamed and unaltered for thousands of years. A sharp eye may spot bighorn sheep grazing on the precipitous green terraces high above. On the forth or fifth day the rafts enter Sentinel Canyon where a cacophony of steep spires and towering buttes inspire awe. The journey ends at Birch Creek or with an optional 11-mile motor across the Lake to Leslie Gulch where gliding pelicans and diving grebes are a common sight.
When to Go: March - May
Best Features: Dramatic desert canyon scenery, remote adventure travel, birding, whitewater, hot springs, hiking.
Rafting Difficulty Level: III
Good For: Rafting and Inflatable Kayak Tours.
What’s around here? Location & Nearby Things to See & Do
These maps and directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results. For travel options, weather and road conditions, visit tripcheck.com, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941.
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