UPPER OWYHEE RIVER
The Owyhee River bends and twists through the Owyhee Canyonlands with mild to wild whitewater rafting in southwestern Idaho and eastern Oregon. This canyon offers dramatic desert canyon scenery, excellent hiking, and a feeling of peace and seclusion that makes it easy to leave the outside world behind. The lonely Owyhee is some of the most remote river in the lower 48, and was recently designated wilderness in 2009. The Owyhee Initiative, which was passed in 2009, designated 517,000 acres as wilderness and 317-miles of the Owyhee and Jarbidge Bruneau River systems as Wild and Scenic Rivers.
Similar Trips: Middle Owyhee • Lower Owyhee • Jarbidge Bruneau
- Departure Month:
- Idaho, Oregon
- Between 3 and 6 days
- High Adventure, Intermediate
- Between $1500 and $2000
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 rapids there are long calm pools allowing time to take in the 1000 ft sheer wall canyons of the Owyhee. We often see bighorn sheep as we drift along, or surprise them when we are exploring the tight-walled side canyons. The option to stop at historic trapping and homestead cabins along the way allow us to marvel at the determination of those who carved out a living in this rugged country. A hike to the rim to look down into the canyon or spot antelope far off in the sagebrush can be a highlight of the trip. Looking out over miles of open country really gives you a feeling for what one guest called the “awesome vastness” of this country. There are more than 250 miles of navigable river in the Owyhee Canyonlands! These miles combine the South Fork, East Fork, Main, and Lower Owyhee. 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.
Upper Owyhee (East Fork)
The Upper East Fork includes Duck Valley Indian Reservation to Three Forks river access. The South Fork of the Owyhee is also included in the Upper Section. The Upper Owyhee is the most technically challenging section of the Owyhee and there are often a few portages and lining projects along the way. This section gets very little use and is an excellent place to see wildlife. It is a rare sight to see anyone else on the East Fork. This section is for someone with a great spirit for adventure and a love for remote places. Definitely a step off the beaten path, but those who seek it out are rewarded in a special way.
Keeping Our Options Open: If the water is too low to put in at Duck Valley, Garat Crossing provides a second access point. Garat is 24-miles below Duck Valley and is a 4-wheel drive mission to get in to the river. Crutcher Crossing is another access point for the East Fork, another 4-wheel drive mission. If for weather or water reasons the East Fork is not an option, the South Fork is a great trip as well. Anyone that plans an Upper Owyhee trip with us or anyone else should be ready for plan B, but as you can see there are many options for a great river trip in this section.
* In navigating the Upper Owyhee you can plan for one thing, but you may get dealt a different hand every time. Water levels and road conditions can sometimes limit which section we run. Get ready for an adventure! To lay eyes on this relatively unexplored and unknown desert canyon is worth the effort!
2017 Schedules and Prices
April 17 – 22
6 – Day Trip ~ $1854.00
Additional dates available upon request. Call for details.
Included: Transportation from Boise to the river and back to Boise at the end of the trip. All snacks and meals beginning with lunch on the first day and ending with lunch on the last day. Use of our sleeping bags, pads, and tents (or bring your own gear and receive a $40 discount), dry bags, PFDs and wetsuits.
Not Included: Cost does not include hotels stays before and after your trip, alcohol and 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 are based upon the number of people in your party.
Discounts for seniors and kids are available. Please ask for details.
DEPOSIT AND RESERVATION:
Reservations can be made online or by calling our office at 800.252.6581.
Payment: A 25% non-refundable deposit is required to reserve your spot. The remainder is due 45 days prior to the trip departure.
We will promptly send you a trip packet including general information on your trip, your invoice and statement, gear list, and medical and liability waiver forms that you will need to return to our office.
Cancellation and Refund: 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, rafts and vehicles assigned. If notice of cancellations 45 days prior to departure, you may transfer to any other trip in the same season without penalty. A cancellation less than 45 days 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
Air: 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.
Hotel: 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
Day before the trip: Arrive in Boise, Idaho. 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 usually have lunch, gear up and have a river safety talk before taking to the river. We may run a few very exciting rapids that afternoon and take a short walk before reaching camp.
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. We try and customize our activities to the interests of each particular group. Our days on the river vary with many opportunites for hiking, exploring and relaxing around our beautiful camps. The Middle Owyhee has a consistent mix of Class III-IV rapids that offer a great chance to get the laughter and adranaline going. There will always be the option to walk around any rapids you are not comfortable with running. There are also several interesting old homesteads and historical sites of native americans and pioneers that once lived in this area. We’ll usually get to camp in the early evening, have some time for hiking and enjoying the scenery, followed by a delicious dutch-oven meal around the campfire.
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
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.
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).
• FISHING GEAR
• RAIN GEAR… good jacket and pants, poncho’s aren’t enough. AVOID VINYL & CHEAP PLASTICS.
• LIGHTWEIGHT SHIRTS…one long sleeved.
• 1 PAIR LONG PANTS… synthetics 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 chums or a shoe string.
• GLOVES OR MITTENS…synthetic or wool.
• WARM SHIRTS…wool or 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.
• INSECT REPELLENT
• 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.
• POCKET KNIFE
• 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
“We had an incredible trip. I have seen the world and this was by far the best trip I have ever been on. The kids were in their element and we cannot say enough about Jessie, Mark and especially Seth.”
John LaRussa, Alternate Path Adventures, Salmon River
“You should know that the guides did everything possible to provide us with an awesome trip. The river was fantastic but even better was the camaraderie we developed with your WRO family.”
Jeff, Brenda and Jamie Nelson, Middle Fork Salmon River
“Thank you for your strong commitment to the wilderness experience. You did not cut corners. The planning, staff, equipment, supplies, and organization were top. Your family’s personal touch was very evident.”
Alan and Alisha Edmundson
“Thanks for the wonderful experience of a lifetime. I will always remember looking out my tent door to the glacier. I can take that picture with me to the old folks hame if I ever go to one and say, ”I have lived!”