Grande Ronde River Rafting

The Grande Ronde River flows through a spectacular canyon in the northeast corner of Oregon and the extreme southeast corner of Washington. The fast-flowing but gentle river is a great introduction to rafting and perfect for family adventures. Campsites are on the slopes of the river, set beneath ponderosa pines, fir trees and among wildflowers and grasses. Wildlife viewing, mountain scenery and hiking are some of the highlights on this trip. 

In 1988, recognizing the tremendous beauty and outstanding resource values of the river canyon, Congress protected 44 miles of the Grande Ronde as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers system. Our trip floats through evergreen forests with towering ponderosa pines anchored on steep mountainsides. The mountains and river canyon are accented with black basalt cliffs that were created millions of years ago during the great Columbia Basin lava flows. The river corridor has a complex ecosystem rich in plant and animal life.

This is the heart of the homeland of the Chief Joseph band of the Nez Perce.  We honor their legacy. Once they roamed freely here, living off the land that was and is still replete with wildlife. Elk, deer and black bear may be seen on the upper stretches while big horn sheep are often perched on the cliffs of the lower river. Birds of prey commonly soar and hunt the wooded hillsides.

The Grande Ronde comes from a relatively small watershed so our trips take place from late spring to early summer. Your white water rafting trip begins at Minam (elevation 2500’) on the Wallowa River, for a fast-paced 10 miles before the Wallowa joins the Grande Ronde River at Rondowa. 

We offer a 3-day trip from Minam to the Powatka bridge near Troy and includes 10 miles on the Wallowa River followed by another 30 miles on the Grande Ronde (40 miles total).  Our 5-day trip also starts at Minam, floats 10 miles on the Wallowa and then another 81 miles to end at Heller Bar ((91 miles total).  Hellar Bar is just a few hundred yards below the confluence of the Grande Ronde and the Snake River, located at an elevation of 850’.

Images & Videos

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Grande Ronde River in Oregon
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Grand Ronde Rafting Tours
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Itinerary

Day 0 - Travel & Arrival

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

  • Accommodations: Not Included in trip cost - Make your reservations early
  • Meals: NA

 
Day 1 - Orientation Meeting, Rafting 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 as your gear is loaded onto our rafts we give a safety talk to prepare you for the river.
 
We launch where the Minam and Wallowa rivers join and begin a fast-paced float through a gorgeous canyon of pine-scented air and colors of deep green.  There are a few riffles and small rapids to liven things up.  We stop for lunch to soak in the scenery and replenish our energy.  Afterwards the river carries us downstream to our evening camp set beneath dramatic mountains among the trees.
 
After tents are set up, there’s time for relaxing before our delicious appetizers are served, followed by dinner.  As the stars sparkle in the sky our campfire crackles and stories begin.

  • Accommodations: Riverside camping
  • Meals: Lunch, Dinner

Day 2 - Paddle Down River, Hiking, Camping

We rise to fresh mountain air and the smell of coffee on the fire.  There’s time to savor the surroundings, and enjoy life unplugged from phones and the internet.  After a filling breakfast we load the rafts and begin our day’s journey downriver.  Scenes of mountain splendor and stories from your guides make the day full of richness.  We stop for lunch and to stretch our legs, continue on and arrive in camp late afternoon for another wonderful evening and night under the stars.

  • Accomodations: Riverside camping
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 
Day 3 - Rafting to Take-Out at Powatka Bridge

You’re feeling like an old hand at rafting by now, and once again we pack up, load up the rafts and begin our day on the water.  The river canyon is steep and black basalt cliffs accent the slopes dotted with the blooms of bright yellow mullen and expanses of green grasses. After lunch we reach our take-out point at Powatka Bridge where your car is waiting.

  • Accommodations: Not Included in trip cost - Make your reservations early
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

 
Please Note: The cost of the shuttle to move your car from Minam to the take-out is not included and is approximately $125.  For groups of 10 or more we can arrange transportation from the airport at Pendleton, OR or Lewiston, ID.

Day 0 - Travel & Arrival

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

  • Accommodations: Not Included in trip cost - Make your reservations early
  • Meals: NA

 
Day 1 - Orientation Meeting, Rafting 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 as your gear is loaded onto our rafts we give a safety talk to prepare you for the river.
 
We launch where the Minam and Wallowa rivers join and begin a fast-paced float through a gorgeous canyon of pine-scented air and colors of deep green.  There are a few riffles and small rapids to liven things up.  We stop for lunch to soak in the scenery and replenish our energy.  Afterwards the river carries us downstream to our evening camp set beneath dramatic mountains among the trees.
 
After tents are set up, there’s time for relaxing before our delicious appetizers are served, followed by dinner.  As the stars sparkle in the sky our campfire crackles and stories begin.

  • Accommodations: Riverside camping
  • Meals: Lunch, Dinner

Day 2 - Paddle Down River, Hiking, Camping

We rise to fresh mountain air and the smell of coffee on the fire.  There’s time to savor the surroundings, and enjoy life unplugged from phones and the internet.  After a filling breakfast we load the rafts and begin our day’s journey downriver.  Scenes of mountain splendor and stories from your guides make the day full of richness.  We stop for lunch and to stretch our legs, continue on and arrive in camp late afternoon for another wonderful evening and night under the stars.

  • Accomodations: Riverside camping
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 
Day 3 - Rafting, Bogan's Oasis, Camping

You’re feeling like an old hand at rafting by now, and once again we pack up, load up the rafts and begin our day on the water. The river canyon is steep and black basalt cliffs accent the slopes dotted with the blooms of bright yellow mullen and expanses of green grasses. Before long we pass by the small town of Troy, where John Fogerty, legendary American singer, musician and songwriter of Credence Clearwater Revival, had a home for a spell.  The Wenaha river flows from the Blue Mountains into the Grande Ronde here as it leaves the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness Area. A road from Troy parallels the river for the next 10 miles until we reach Bogan’s Oasis and here, the river and road go their separate ways again.  
 
Because we’ve dropped in elevation significantly since our launch, the scenery has changed dramatically, the land is drier and there are fewer trees.  We continue as the river carries us onward, with fantastic scenes of the American West. Steep mountains, the winding river, soaring eagles and clean, fresh air highlight our travels.

  • Accomodations: Riverside camping
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 
Day 4 - Rafting, Geology & Natural History, Camping

Another glorious morning greets us and the easy-going pace of river life is feeling good. We’ve now moved from Oregon into Washington state, but the river doesn’t care.  Our morning flows naturally as we pack up and once again begin our float on the rushing waters of the Grande Ronde. Our guides tell stories of the river’s geology and other natural history.  Learning and discovery are woven into our trips in a fun and engaging way.
 
After lunch, we continue on until we reach our last night’s camp on the banks of the river. While a few ponderosa pines are scattered on the hillsides, we now also see native netleaf hackberry along the riparian zone.  This unique ecosystem is home to a host of wildlife and with luck we may see bighorn sheep and mule deer as we float.
 
At our last night’s camp we celebrate our river odyssey with stories around the campfire and a final night under the stars.

  • Accomodations: Riverside camping
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 
Day 5 - The Narrows, Confluence with the Snake River in Hells Canyon, Take-Out at Heller Bar

A bountiful breakfast is an Epicurean treat, and soon we’re back on the water.  We have one rapid of note today, called the Narrows.  It’s quick and splashy and soon we reach the confluence with the Snake River in Hells Canyon, another river where we offer trips.
Our take-out is at Heller Bar and your car is waiting for you there.

  • Accommodations: Not Included in trip cost - Make your reservations early
  • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

 
Please Note: The cost of the shuttle to move your car from Minam to the take-out is not included and is approximately $185.  For groups of 10 or more we can arrange transportation from the airport at Pendleton, OR or Lewiston, ID.

Dates & Rates

Supplementary Information

3-day Grand Ronde Rafting Trip

  • 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+.

5-day Grand Ronde Rafting Trip

  • Departures: available upon request for groups of 10 or more
  • Adult Price: $1545, Youth Price: $1445

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

Why go with ROW on the Grande Ronde River?

Experience & Awards
ROW Adventures is a seven-time National Geographic award-winning company. We haven't only been "operating" since 1979, we've never changed ownership!

Responsible Travel Ethics
We operate following the best in "responsible" or "eco" travel ethics including Leave No Trace camping and many other best practices that are sometimes forgotten about in the world of travel.

Rich Itinerary
Our itinerary is designed to visit many different points of interest, taking advantage of rock art sites, pioneer homesteads, and natural wonders in the river canyon.

Luxury Camping
Our luxury-style camping includes all camping gear such as tents, sleeping bags and thick, self-inflating mattresses. All rafting gear is also included to make things easy for you.

Guides Like No Others
Your trip is enriched by knowledgeable guides who share the canyon's cultural and natural history. No other company trains guides like we do, and most of our guides are also Certified Interpretive Guides through the National Association for Interpretation.

Carefully Orchestrated
Our guides are divided into a "guest crew" and a "kitchen crew." While the kitchen crew prepares dinner, our guest crew is available to spend time with you, lead a hike, show you how to cast a fishing line or simply sit in the shade and visit. This is a fundamental distinction between us and others.

Sharing Our Passion
Guides join you at all meals, sharing conversation and laughter at meal times and around the campfire.

All-inclusive
Complimentary beer, wine, juice and soda, all in moderate quantities, is provided. We are proud to serve fine local Northwest wines. We always have plenty of ice!

Your Security First
We carry satellite telephones on all trips - for emergency use only.

Local Support
Our trips support local hotels, on our farewell dinner we eat in a local restaurant, we hire local guides and buy all our trip provisions and food in local communities. This means our trips and the money you pay for them has a significant impact to our local area. Our trips offer an excellent opportunity for our guests to interact with locals, providing a cultural element that allows you to learn more about the American West.

What is riverside camping like?

We call it luxury camping. In order to make your trip run as smoothly and comfortably as possible, we use a large cargo raft to carry camping gear, food and supplies ahead of the main group. This allows our smaller rafts to be lighter and more maneuverable, which makes for a safer ride with more bounce and splash. And the cargo raft arrives at camp early to setup the kitchen and spacious  tents we supply for you. All you have to do is carry your personal gear to the tent of your choice and roll out your sleeping bag, flannel liner and thick, self-inflating foam sleeping pad (all of which is provided by ROW and stored in a ROW-provided waterproof bag). There are no mosquitoes on this stretch of the river and our camps are on flat benches beneath pine trees or on sandy beaches. To give you the opportunity to go hiking, fishing, read a book, etc., we generally arrive in camp no later than 4:00pm. Around 5:30, we serve hors d'oeuvres with dinner following around 7:00pm. (Note: In rare circumstances we may have a trip on the Snake River with less than 13 guests. In this case, we may not run our cargo raft. Our guides are still happy to set up your tent.)

What are typical meals on the river?

The quality of our food reflects the quality of the wilderness environment in the canyon. We hand-select the freshest fruits and vegetables we can find and pack them carefully in huge ice-coolers. Likewise, these coolers carry fresh dairy products and meats. From these ingredients we prepare bountiful, healthy meals. Sustainably harvested wild Alaskan Salmon served with a fresh garden salad; Prime Rib combined with a fresh Chilean salad and Idaho mashed potatoes or made-on-the-river lasagna is a few possible entrees. Big salads of vegetables and fruit add color and variety to every meal. Desserts are made each evening in our Dutch ovens and range from authentic cobbler and pineapple upside-down cake. We serve juice each morning and moderate amounts of bottled wine with dinner. We also provide two beers and two sodas or juices per person per day. There's always plenty of cold water, lemonade mix, tea, coffee and cocoa. You're welcome to bring your own beverages or alcohol as well. We always have plenty of ice to keep your drinks cold.

What type of watercraft do you use?

In addition to the cargo raft that carries all the camping gear, we use three other kinds of river craft. The traditional raft is a 17-foot self-bailing, oar-powered raft which a guide controls with two large oars. We also offer smaller 14-foot self-bailing paddle rafts. Four to six people paddle while a guide steers. On some stretches of river we can add inflatable kayaks, or Inflatable kayaks, to the mix. You have the choice to ride in any of these boats, and many people enjoy trying all three during a trip. On the few trips we operate with less than 13 guests, we may not have enough people to support a paddle raft. (We will still have duckies on smaller trips, if requested.)

Who guides your trips?

On any river trip the guides are the most important factor for your safety, enjoyment and the success of the trip. ROW guides are exceptional people with years of river experience. We maintain a tobacco-free policy and most of our guides have taken interpretation courses from certified instructors. We look for guides who are willing and eager to share, teach, listen, learn, laugh, play, discuss and, above all, work hard to provide a safe, relaxed and spontaneous adventure. While in camp two or three guides are preparing dinner while the others are free to spend time with you. They might give a fly-fishing lesson, lead a hike, or just to sit and visit with the group. Our guides are the main reason many of our guests return to ROW time and time again. (References gladly provided.)

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