This spring break we decided to mix things up and explore some whitewater in southeastern Oregon. I had heard rumors of the Owyhee River, its 3,000 ft. vertical canyon walls, sandy beaches and hot springs. It sounded too good to be true so Drew Eastman, Kim Russell, Jesse Becker and I decided to pack our boats for a three day self-support trip to investigate the 38 mile section between Three Forks and Rome.
We were not disappointed! The Owyhee is so completely different from the mossy gorges we're used to paddling around Hood River. It flows through some of the most beautiful and desolate high desert country I have ever seen, complete with coyotes and tumbleweeds. Luckily, I think it was a bit to early in the season for rattlesnakes.
Looking down on Three Forks,
the confluence of the North, Middle and
South Forks of the Owyhee.
Just downstream from the put-in
the walls start closing in . . .
The river may only run for a few weeks each year, usually from late March to early May. Luckily, the river came up just in time for spring break and was hovering around 1,500 cfs. The first two days were a combo of lazy bends, big Class III wave trains, long Class IV rapids and one manky Class V boulder drop called Widowmaker. The last day was a 5 mile flatwater paddle out.
a beautiful sandy beach with
a convenient rock overhang
Hunkered down in the Bombshelter
On the morning of day two we woke up to a blizzard and were so relieved to hide out in the cave until the storm passed.
When in Rome