Trip Itinerary & Details
Our first day on the river begins with calm water and mild rapids, which are ideal for a warm up, especially for those behind the oars or paddling an inflatable kayak. After five miles in the open countryside, we enter the first of a series of scenic gorges. Highlights of our first day on the water include Upset rapid and Bull's-eye rapid. The following morning we'll stop at Weeping Wall Springs, a lovely desert oasis, to refill our water jugs with refreshing spring water. We'll run Artillery rapid, stop at a hot springs, and camp at or near Chalk Basin.
Chalk Basin is a strikingly beautiful fairyland of colorful, eroded rock pinnacles and canyons. On our second afternoon or third morning we'll through this scenic area, and, time and weather permitting, we'll offer a hike to the top of a dome overlooking the river for a breathtaking panoramic view of the Owyhee's pristine wilderness.
The scenery just keeps getting better as we head downstream. Over the next two days we'll float through gorgeous Green Dragon Canyon, where 1,000 foot walls dwarf our boats. And we'll encounter our most challenging rapids: Whistling Bird, Squeeze, and Montgomery. We'll take a soak in the river's best hot springs. And we'll stop to view petroglyphs in a lovely, wide-open valley ungraciously named "Hole in the Ground".
Our last day on the water features more beautiful and varied scenery. The last day's whitewater is mild, and this is a good time for those who's yet to experience rowing or paddling to give it a try.
We meet at 7:30 AM Mountain Time (6:30 AM Pacific Time) at the Basque Station Motel in Jordan Valley, Oregon. The Motel (currently the only one in town) is on the main road and easy to find. Jordan Valley is 43 miles east of Burns Junction, approximately 425 miles southeast of Portland, Oregon, and 68 miles southwest of Boise, Idaho. (Please have your breakfast before our meeting time, and arrive in your river clothes.) Our Lead Guide will meet you in the Motel parking lot. Look for a vehicle sporting the O.R.E. logo. After a brief orientation you will pack your things into our river bags, and park your vehicles next to the motel. We will then go by van to the launch site at Rome.
Once we arrive at our launch site, you’ll meet the rest of our guide crew, and they’ll conduct a short safety and orientation briefing, which will include instruction on paddle and rowing techniques as needed. We’re normally on our way downstream by mid-morning.
On the River
Each day is a bit different. But a typical day on the river begins with freshly brewed coffee around 7 AM, and breakfast by 8 AM. After breakfast we’ll pack our bags and load the boats. Then, after a brief orientation to the day’s adventures, we’ll head downstream.
We’re on the river an average of four to five hours per day. Along the way we stop for a riverside picnic lunch. We may also stop to swim, to explore historic sites, to scout rapids, or to hike up scenic side canyons. We usually arrive in camp by mid to late afternoon, and while the guides prepare hors d’oeuvres and dinner, you’ll have time to hike, swim, fish, read, or nap.
Logistics for our final day on the river vary depending on water level as well as weather and road conditions. When possible we will leave the river at Birch Creek Ranch. Once we’ve unpacked our gear and de-rigged the boats at the ranch we'll board a van for the ride back to Jordan Valley, where we will arrive around 5 PM.
Alternatively, we may raft past Birch Creek to the headwaters of Lake Owyhee. There we will lash our rafts together, attach a motor to our gear boat, then embark on a leisurely and scenic cruise across the reservoir. In this case we'll reach our take-out at Leslie Gulch between 4 and 5 PM, de-rig, then drive back to Jordan Valley, where we'll arrive between 7 and 8 PM. (Please contact our office if you have questions about which will be the likely format for your trip.)
- The services of our professional guides and staff.
- Transportation to our launch point from the town of Jordan Valley, and from our take-out back to Jordan Valley at trip’s end.
- All meals, from lunch on the first day through lunch on the last. Our menu is delicious, varied, and hearty. Meals are freshly prepared by our guides from the highest quality ingredients. Juice and water are available at each meal. Coffee, tea, and cocoa are available at dinner and breakfast, and complementary wine is served with some dinners. Special dietary needs may be accommodated with advance notice. We also provide cups, plates, and silverware.
- Durable, professional quality rafts and river running equipment, including U.S. Coast Guard Approved lifejackets.
- Waterproof river bags and boxes for your personal gear.
- Cups, plates and eating utensils.
- Camp chairs.
Where and When to Meet
We will meet at 7:30 AM Mountain Time (6:30 AM Pacific Time) at the Basque Station Motel in Jordan Valley, Oregon. The Motel, one of only two in town, is on the main road and easy to find. Jordan Valley is 43 miles east of Burns Junction, approximately 425 miles southeast of Portland, Oregon, and 68 miles southwest of Boise, Idaho.
From Portland follow I-84 to the Oregon-Idaho border. Just past the border turn south onto US-95 and follow it to Jordan Valley. Or drive to Bend, take US-20 to Burns, OR-78 to Burns Junction, and US-95 to Jordan Valley. From California take US-97 or US-395 to US-20, US-20 east to Burns, OR-78 to Burns Junction, and US-95 to Jordan Valley.
The closest commercial airport is Boise, Idaho. It is serviced by Alaska, United, Delta, and Southwest Airlines. Plan your flight to arrive the day before your river trip begins.
There is no public transportation available from Boise to Jordan Valley, but car rentals are available at Boise's airport.
Pre and Post Trip Shuttles
Your trip fare includes transportation from Jordan Valley to our put-in at Rome, and from our take-out at Leslie Gulch back to Jordan Valley at trip’s end. If you’d rather have your car waiting for you at Leslie Gulch, give our office a call. We will assist you in arranging for shuttle service. Conducted by local drivers, the price of this service is approximately $150 per vehicle.
What to Bring
You will need to bring your own clothing and toiletries.
Details, tips, and a complete list of what to bring are found here. You will receive a copy of this information when you sign up for your trip.
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|Average daytime high temperature||63||73||82|
|Average nighttime low temperature||30||38||46|
|Average monthly rainfall||0.7"||1.0"||1.0"|
The weather in the Owyhee River canyon is quite variable -- more variable than on any other river we run. Little rain falls, and warm days are likely. But cool or cold days are a possibility, too. The river water itself is cool early in the spring, but may warm to the high 60’s as air temperatures rise and the water level drops.
Fishing on the Owyhee ( trout and small mouth bass) is fair to poor during high water, but improves markedly as the water warms and clears. If you would like to fish you will need an Oregon fishing license, which may be purchased at Oregon sporting goods stores or online at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's web site.
Camping While On The River
We select scenic beaches for our camp sites. Our guides establish a central kitchen and social area, and trip members select spots in the surrounding area to pitch a tent or roll out a sleeping bag. O.R.E. will set up a portable toilet at each camp, which will be located with privacy and convenience in mind.
O.R.E. practices minimum impact camping, and the crew will instruct you on the simple steps we follow to protect the Owyhee's fragile desert river environment.
Where to Stay Before or After Your Trip
There is one motel in Jordan Valley: The Basque Station Hotel (and Shell Station): (541) 586-9244, which is our meeting place. Jordan Valley is also the site of two trailer parks, which provide showers, a laundry, and hookups for RVs.
Rome features a small BLM campground on the east side of the river, as well as Rome Station on the west side. Rome Station (541-586-2295) includes a cafe, small store, gasoline, cabins, RV park and airstrip.
An overview of the Owyhee River region's colorful history can be found here.
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An overview of the Owyhee River region's geologic history can be found here.
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If you'd like to do some additional camping, hiking, and exploring while you're in the area, consider visiting Leslie Gulch, Jordan Craters, or Succor Creek State Recreation Area. For more information contact the Bureau of Land Management at 100 Oregon Street, Vale, OR 97918, 541-473-3144, and request a map of the region ($4.00): the Vale District Recreation Guide.
Guests sometimes ask whether it is appropriate to tip their guide. Tipping is optional, but if your guide did a great job then feel free to thank him or her with a gratuity. The amount is up to you, but tips between 8% and 20% of trip cost are customary. Gratuities are customarily presented to the Lead Guide, and will be shared equally among all guides on your trip.