Owyhee River Kayaking Expeditionary Trip
The Owyhee River is one of the West's best-kept secrets with canyons unique to this continent. Some refer to them as the "Sistine Chapel" of all canyon lands. Rarely visited, and strictly regulated by the Bureau of Land Management, ROW Adventures is one of the very few outfitters licensed and permitted to run the entire Owyhee River (bridging the states of Nevada, Idaho and Oregon). We have been running the Owyhee since 1980 and offer kayaking trips on the East Fork and South Fork of the Upper Owyhee. During May and early June, these trips may be combined with other raft trips or kayak trips to make 17-days of kayaking and rafting - making it the longest, most remote river trip in the lower 48 states.
Natural and Cultural History: This Owyhee kayak trip will flow through dramatic, multi-colored canyons, reminiscent of places like Bryce and Zion National Parks in southern Utah. Vertical faces of rock, 300 to 1000 feet high, tower above the river. Within the canyon walls mountain juniper grows, as well as sagebrush, willow, hackberry and numerous grasses. Three species of endangered plants are located along the rivers, including the Owyhee River Stickseed, Anderson's buttercup and Inch-High Lupine. In May the desert is in full bloom and dozens of plants are flowering, making a rainbow of color.
There is a great variety of bird life in the canyon. Golden eagles, numerous hawks, falcons, Canada geese, teals, and songbirds are abundant. In all we've spotted over 60 bird species on our trips. We may also see beaver, otter, coyote, deer, muskrat, antelope and desert big horn sheep.
Native Americans have lived in this canyon for at least 9000 years. Numerous petroglyphs and other evidence are found along the river's banks. Recorded history of the region began in 1812 with the first explorations by white men.
The name Owyhee evolved out of a scouting expedition led by Donald McKenzie in 1818. Two Hawaiian Islanders accompanying the party disappeared in the Owyhee River area and by the 1830's the river had become known as the "Owyhee," a derivation of the word Hawaii.
In 1979 the U.S. National Park Service recommended a 192-mile segment of the Owyhee River, from the Duck Valley Indian Reservation in Idaho, to the Owyhee Reservoir in Oregon, be included in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. When this was signed into law, the portion of the river east of the Idaho-Oregon boundary was excluded, due to pressure from local mining and grazing interests. The Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 has now included these areas and ROW Adventures is one of few who are licensed and permitted to kayak in this area.