Owyhee River Rafting
The Owyhee River in Idaho and Oregon is one of the most spectacular desert rivers in the United States. A tributary of the Snake River, the Owyhee begins in Nevada and flows north and west through Idaho and Oregon before coming to journey’s end when it flows into the Snake river. The Owyhee travels through one of the least-populated regions in the lower 48 states and its varied landscape and steep canyons make it a favorite destination
For whitewater rafting connoisseurs. Considered the "Sistine Chapel" of western canyon lands, the Owyhee River in Idaho and Oregon is one of the best-kept whitewater rafting secrets.
Few whitewater trips can compare to the scenery, wildlife, and adventure of Idaho and Oregon's Owyhee River. Through millions of years, the Owyhee has carved dramatic multi-colored canyons, reminiscent of Bryce and Zion National Parks in southern Utah. Sheer-walled rock faces, up to 1,000 feet high, tower above the river and captivate guests as they float through these spectacular canyons. The Owyhee River's whitewater is as diverse as the flora and fauna that adorns the remote canyon hillsides.
Depending on the section, the Owyhee River offers everything from an ideal family vacation to an extreme adventure for experienced rafters. Each portion is unique and trips range from four to seven days. The different sections can even be combined into one epic 17-day trip floating through three states!
A kaleidoscope of life thrives in the canyon and you're likely to see multitudes of wildflowers, birds, and reptiles as you raft through the Owyhee's Class II-IV whitewater rapids. You're also likely to see eagles and falcons soaring, beavers, otters, coyote, bighorn sheep, and antelope.
Undammed and free-flowing, the Owyhee is an early-season (April-June) desert river with strictly controlled launches. These incredible desert canyons are rarely visited and offer an array of adventure, scenery and cultural history. Camps are set on white sand beaches among twisted juniper trees and sagebrush. And as your guides prepare the evening's meal, you might soak in a hot spring or hike up a canyon draw. As the evening settles in, sit in awe as the rock pinnacles of the Owyhee River's hillsides become silhouetted against a magical sunset. After dinner, sit around the glowing embers of the campfire and imagine what life was like when Indigenous peoples made this land their home.
Below in the Itinerary section are brief descriptions of each section of the Owyhee. ROW has been on the Owyhee since 1980 and is one of the very few outfitters licensed and permitted to run the entire river (bridging the states of Nevada, Idaho, and Oregon). For nature lovers and white water connoisseurs, a rafting vacation on the Owyhee River is a dream come true.
Images & Videos
The Lower Owyhee River Rafting Trips
- 5 Days
- 50 Miles
This is the most approachable section of the Owyhee as the rapids are easy to moderate in nature and we are able to use our larger 16' rafts and run more of a "normal" rafting trip with the usual amenities that make for very comfortable and cushy camping. Our put-in is near the town of Rome with our take-out at Birch Creek. During the trip we visit several wonderful hot springs and may even camp near one. Camps are set on sand beaches. We see some dramatic geologic formations along the way, some of which are similar to the Dakota badlands. There are plenty of hiking possibilities and plenty of camp time for relaxing, photography, and bird watching. This section is the best choice for those who don't want the tough whitewater of the Middle Section, or the expedition-quality of the Upper sections. Under BLM (Bureau of Land Management) regulations, trips are limited to 16 guests and four guides.
The Upper Owyhee River Rafting Trips - South Fork
- 7 Days
- 68 Miles
We sometimes put-in at a local ranch in Nevada, miles from nowhere, but more often put-in at the “pipeline crossing” that is 20 miles downstream. The normal take-out is at Three Forks, where this trip ends and trips on the Middle Owyhee begin. The ﬁrst three days of this trip are in a broad river canyon that is quite different than the tight, rocky, nearly impassable rapids that are found on the East Fork. The South Fork meets the East Fork on the fourth day, so the last three days of this trip are the same as the last three of the East Fork trip. At this point we are in a majestic canyon of near-vertical cliffs. There is at least one portage below the conﬂuence of the East and South forks at Cable rapids. A portage requires that we carry all gear around the rapids. Sometimes we can let the rafts through on ropes (called "lining,") but this depends on water levels. If we can't line the rafts, we have to carry them as well. We normally take one small 13’ raft to carry communal equipment and each person paddles their own inflatable kayak. However if you prefer to ride in a raft, let us know as this can be arranged.
The Upper Owyhee River Rafting Trips - East Fork
- 7 Days
- 73 Miles
The put-in is around 5000' elevation near the Duck Valley Indian Reservation and our take-out is usually at Three Forks. At very low flows we may take out above Three Forks. Due to the numerous rapids and narrow, rocky courses, we use a small 13' raft to carry the community camp equipment, and each person or couple paddles their own inﬂatable kayak. (If you prefer to ride in a raft, let us know as this can be accommodated.) There are at least two portages on this section and we travel light in order to minimize the delay and hard work these present. Due to the extreme remoteness and inaccessibility of the area, wildlife sightings are best on this part of the river. This canyon is as remote as anyplace on the North American continent.
Dates & Rates
|Dates||Adult (USD)||Child (USD)|
|May 26, 2022 to May 30, 2022 |
7-Day - Upper Owyhee - Contact us regarding dates
- Departures: May / Early June by request (1 guide per 2 guests)
- Adult Price: $2690
5-Day - Private Trip Lower Owyhee - Contact us regarding dates
- Dates based on availability from late April to mid-June.
- Private Trip Rate = $18,800
ROW Inc., doing business as ROW Adventures is proud to be an Equal Opportunity recreation service provider. ROW Inc. operates under special use permit from the Vale Resource Area of the Bureau of Land Management. All our operations and facilities are operated on a non-discriminatory basis.