Kayaking the Grande Ronde River

Tucked away in the Blue Mountains, in the extreme northeast corner of Oregon, flows the fast but gentle Grande Ronde River, the perfect place to learn how to read water and paddle your own inflatable kayak. While we also offer Grande Ronde whitewater rafting and Grande Ronde fly fishing trips, this adventure is designed for people who want to learn how to paddle an inflatable kayak and perhaps ultimately run their own kayaking adventure.

Our Grande Ronde kayaking adventure travels some 36 miles through a wilderness of pine-studded canyons, on waters protected as part of the National Wild & Scenic Rivers Act. Towering mountains and formations of volcanic rock from the Columbia Basalt flows make for a dramatic setting.

Every participant on this trip is furnished with an inflatable kayak about 11-feet in length. These are stable and fairly easy to maneuver, making them an ideal platform for learning how to run white water rivers on this kayaking adventure. Each day of adventure we paddle about 12-14 miles on fast-flowing water, getting instruction from your guides along the way.

We are sure to leave plenty of time to stop and hike to the vistas of the Blue Mountains and the canyons of the river. We make camp by the river’s edge each evening. On the kayaking adventure, we may see Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer, and coyote. 

Unlike other ROW Adventures’ trips, which lean towards the luxury end of service and camping, on this self-support kayaking trip, everyone carries their own overnight bag in their kayak and chips in to set up camp. Meals are ROW’s standard five-course camp gourmet fare and participants who wish may learn how to do Dutch oven cooking alongside the guides. Those who choose to do so will learn how to bake salmon with a huckleberry and maple syrup glaze, prepare awesome camp lasagna, cook a variety of cakes and a final night feast!

Our adventure guides will also demonstrate packing and rigging techniques for those interested. For those that want to learn the basic skills for organizing a self-support kayaking trip, this is the perfect introduction!

This trip is suitable for paddlers ages 14 and up. The trip starts at the river put-in in Minam, Oregon and you pay to have your car shuttled to the end at the Powatka bridge which is a few miles upstream of the small town of Troy, Oregon.  Nearby airports include Pendleton, Oregon and Lewiston, Idaho.

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Itinerary

Collapse all days

Day 0

Travel to Oregon

Travel from your home to stay in the vicinity of La Grande or Enterprise, Oregon and overnight in your choice of accommodation.

ACCOMMODATION : Not Included
MEALS INCLUDED : NA

Day 1

Orientation Meeting, Kayaking and Riverside Camping

Meet your ROW Team Leader at 9:30 AM at the river put-in at Minam, Oregon. We welcome you with a 30-minute orientation meeting to answer your last-minute questions and pack the waterproof gear bags we will give you at this meeting.  Then we give a safety talk to prepare you for the river and show you how to load your kayak with your personal gear.
 
We launch at the confluence of the Minam and Wallowa rivers and your paddle strokes will come quickly on this fast-flowing river.  Between paddling there's time to look up and around at the superbly beautiful mountain scenery. Small Class I and Class II rapids are fun and splashy.  Soon we take a break for lunch.  Our paddle continues to the next confluence, where the Wallowa meets the Grande Ronde itself, and a few miles below this  we make our first night’s camp. 

Camps are set on large benches of grass and pine trees. Everyone helps get the boats unloaded and camp set up. Our spacious tents are quick and easy. The next learning opportunity is focused on river camp cooking. Anyone who wants to learn more is welcome to join the guides in the kitchen. You can learn how to prepare gourmet camp food using a propane stove and Dutch ovens. At each meal you’ll learn a new trick or two and create some delicious meals. A highlight for many will be learning how to bake in the Dutch ovens. Cakes, cobblers, fresh salmon, lasagna and prime rib are some of the dishes cooked on the trip in Dutch ovens.

ACCOMMODATION : Riverside camping
MEALS INCLUDED : Lunch, Dinner

Day 2

Kayaking, Paddling Instruction, Camping

We enjoy breakfast and then break camp for day two of our kayaking adventure. We launch again on the Grande Ronde, which continues as a fast-flowing but gentle river with mild rapids. We pass beneath dramatic basalt columns that jut out from the sloping mountains. With any luck we may see deer, elk or even big horn sheep. The fresh mountain air is fresh and clean. Huge ponderosa pines stud the mountainsides. After a couple hours floating the river we pull over for lunch and you have your choice of helping or just kicking back. We review some paddling techniques prior to setting out for the afternoon. 

Water levels determine how long we spend on the river each day. At higher flows the river moves faster, making our miles pass more quickly. We arrive at camp in plenty of time for a hike, game of horseshoes or other activity. Those desiring to learn more about camp cooking will report for duty in the kitchen.
 

ACCOMMODATION : Riverside camping
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3

Kayaking, Take-out at Powatka Bridge

The morning is filled with more forested scenery and fresh mountain air.  By now you're feeling quite comfortable in your kayak and have learned about ferry angles, eddies, waves, holes and so much more!  We reach the take-out at the Powatka Bridge just after lunch and your vehicle will be there waiting.  After we unload the boats and say our good-byes, everyone goes on their way. 

ROW Inc., doing business as ROW Adventures is proud to be an Equal Opportunity recreation service provider.  ROW Inc. operates under a special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service in the Umatilla National Forest.   All our operations and facilities are operated on a non-discriminatory basis.
 

ACCOMMODATION : NA
MEALS INCLUDED : Breakfast, Lunch

Dates & Rates

Supplementary Information

Self-Support Kayaking, Grande Ronde 3 Days

Departures: June 11, 19, 2021
Adult Price: $955, Youth Price: $855
*Minimum of six guests required to guarantee departure. Other departures are available for private charters or groups of 10+.

ROW Inc., doing business as ROW Adventures is proud to be an Equal Opportunity recreation service provider.  ROW Inc. operates under a special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service in the Umatilla National Forest.   All our operations and facilities are operated on a non-discriminatory basis.

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FAQ & More

When to Go?

We offer these Grande Ronde kayaking trips a few times in early summer when the river is still flowing well, but past its high water peak. Typically this means our trips run from mid-June to mid-July.

What to Bring?

ROW Adventures provides all the camping, rafting and kayaking gear required for the trip. We send you a complete list of personal items you need to bring. For the most part these are things you already own. Example of things you might not own but might want to bring would be wetsuit booties, rain pants and a headlamp.

Am I fit enough?

This trip is suitable for anyone in reasonable shape. You need to be flexible enough to climb in and out of your inflatable kayak. Paddling uses some shoulder and arm muscles you might not use often, but the river does most of the work moving you downstream.

How much am I expected to help?

This trip is different from other ROW Adventures’ trips in that guests are expected to set up and take down their own tents. As well, you need to carry your personal gear from your kayak to and from your tent. Other than that, all other participation in camp is optional. If you are not interested in helping in the kitchen, you don’t have to. On the other hand, if you want to learn more about camp cooking, or how to load the boats, we’re happy to teach you.

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