Owyhee River

The Grand Canyon of Oregon

ABOUTOwyhee River Rafting

  • Known as the “Grand Canyon of Oregon” with breathtaking towering cliffs and 3,000 ft relief
  • Option to stop and soak in Owyhee hot springs along the river
  • Experience the Owyhee River Wilderness Idaho with  Canyonlands that stretch across more than two million acres
  • Raft the Wild & Scenic River section
  • Owyhee River whitewater rafting is very remote, wild and untouched
  • View red-rock spires Honeycomb rock formations, Chalk Basin area, and Leslie Gulch
  • Historic petroglyphs
  • Noted as one of the areas least tainted by light pollution in the lower 48, this region is a hallmark for stargazing
  • Experience plant life found nowhere else in the world including Packard’s blazing star and the Owyhee clover

From traversing the great-wide-open to marveling at tight canyon walls, Owyhee River rafting in the canyonlands offers awe-inspiring views around every bend. Pair that with the scent of sage, rich green flora in the canyon and red rock walls and you will see why visitors travel from all around to experience the remote area.

Originating from the mountains of northern Nevada and southern Idaho, the Owyhee River carves a canyon as deep as 3,000 feet into volcanic rock. Reminiscent of the Grand Canyon, towering cliffs, reaching up to 1,000 feet, stand sentinel along the river’s path.

The specific section of the Owyhee River whitewater rafting we navigate boasts a diverse landscape within the broader, shallow canyon. Some areas feature narrow, steep-walled inner canyons, adding intrigue to the scenery. The canyon’s walls showcase a vivid palette, with interbedded ash and sediments creating hues of white, red, green, and black. Among the captivating features are the Lambert Rocks, vibrant badlands shaped by erosion from these diverse sediments.

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Let's GoOwyhee River Rafting

Dates: April
- May
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WHY GOOwyhee River Rafting

The Wild and Scenic Owyhee River and Canyonlands stand as a cherished gem in Oregon, representing one of the most remote and untamed landscapes in the entire country. Widely acclaimed as a premier early-season whitewater destination, particularly during peak water levels, it holds national recognition. The Lower Owyhee, a favored 48-mile stretch from Rome to Birch Creek Historic Ranch, features exhilarating class II, III, and IV rapids, including notable ones like Montgomery and Whistling Bird.

While the Owyhee River offers thrilling whitewater experiences, it also presents calm stretches that invite moments of tranquility and solitude. Leisurely drifting past the majestic spires of Chalk Basin, the canyon showcases a spectrum of colors, ranging from reddish rhyolite to darker basalt. Noteworthy landmarks like Pruett’s Castle unveil rocks dating from the late Miocene period to the present, adding layers of geological history to the journey.

Interested in other rafting near Oregon? Check out our white water rafting southern Oregon trips which feature lush green forests of Rogue River rafting. Other options include whitewater rafting Idaho featuring world renowned Snake river rafting.


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History & Wildlife

The high-quality habitat in this area led the Bureau of Land Management to recognize over 1 million acres of the Owyhee as “wilderness areas.” The Owyhee River Oregon is home to more than 200 wildlife species including golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, 14 species of bats, elk, mule deer, pronghorn antelope and the largest herd of California bighorn sheep in the nation. In the river anglers will find redband trout, brown trout, mountain whitefish and smallmouth bass.

The Owyhee River has been identified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as one of six key strongholds for the Greater sage-grouse in the West. The river’s riparian (river bank) areas are crucial homes for sage-grouse, providing essential resources for nesting and raising their chicks. The distinct soil conditions in the Owyhee region provide ideal habitats for various plant species, such as larkspur, biscuitroot, phlox, penstemon, and sagebrush buttercup. Remarkably, the Owyhee is home to around 28 plant species that are exclusive to this area, including Packard’s blazing star and the Owyhee clover, making it a unique and irreplaceable biodiversity area.

QUESTIONS ABOUTOwyhee River Rafting

When is the best time to raft the Owyhee River?

Springtime is the best time for rafting on the Owyhee River. Flows can vary, but April – June is the best time for Owyhee trips.

Where is the Owyhee River in Oregon?

The Owyhee River is located in Southeastern Oregon, white water rafting trips on the Owyhee River meet in Rome, Oregon.

Where does the Owyhee River start and end?

Rafting trips on the Owyhee start in Rome, Oregon and end at the Birch Creek Take Out.


As we embark on our Owyhee River adventures, we gracefully traverse the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary lands of the Shoshone-Paiute people.

Acknowledging the Indigenous communities whose lands we visit is a crucial step in understanding our shared history and the ongoing challenges faced by these populations today. For more insight, visit our Territory Acknowledgement page. We encourage you to learn about the people whose land we’re privileged to explore by following the links above.

Our Territory Acknowledgement is an evolving project. If you find missing information or acknowledgments, please share it with us. Together, we can ensure accuracy, inclusivity, and respect. Thank you.