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River Shuttle Services:

Hells Canyon Shuttle, Inc
Located in:
Oxbow, OR

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Hell’s Canyon Shuttle, Inc. is a family owned business and has been providing the rafting community of Hell’s Canyon dependable sh (more...)

Paddlesports Shops:

Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe
Located in:
Bend, OR

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Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe has the largest selection of whitewater kayaks, sea kayaks, recreational kayaks, paddleboards and can (more...)
site home  :: self guided home  :: U.S. river guide  :: Rivers in Oregon  :: Owyhee River Oregon  :: Middle Owyhee Whitewater Kayaking Trip

Middle Owyhee Whitewater Kayaking Trip on the Owyhee River

Portaging Widowmaker Rapid
Camping cavemen Riverside Hotsprings Take-out at Rome Be sure and visit the city of paved streets!

View larger map of Middle Owyhee & get directions
Click 'Earth' to fly through the canyon!
Middle Owyhee Info
Use this information at your own risk. See our legal notices.
Put In:  Three Forks
Take Out:  Rome
Gradient:  18 ft/mi
Run Length:  39 miles
Current Streamflow:  207 cfs @ 12/14/2016 11:30 AM - OWYHEE RIVER NR ROME OR, reading taken from USGS
Good Level:  1,000 - 8,000 cfs; 1500-3000 optimal
Streamflow Comments: 
Season Comments:  March, April, May, June
Primary Season: 
Permit:  Self registration at the put-in. Boater registration is mandatoryk, due to the extreme isolation of the river at the put-in facility.
Character/Similar To:  This section of the Owyhee River is very challenging. Pool-drop river where long sections of flat water are interrupted by difficult class III, IV and V+ rapids. The rapids include long boulder gardens and heavy hydraulics, which preclude small rafts, drift boats and open canoes. Constricted channels and the possible need for portages can make the use of large rafts difficult. The middle Owyhee is recommended for highly skilled boaters equipped with kayaks, catarafts, and medium sized rafts. Geology: deep, volcanic rock, desert canyon. Extremely remote wilderness run.
Hazards:  Isolated, inaccessable canyon makes hiking out difficult. Widowmaker rapid. Watch for rattlesnakes.
Water Craft:  kayak,raft
Land Ownership:  Mostly public. The BLM is the managing agency. Rome Launch Site: 541-586-2612. Vale District Office: 541-473-3144
Wilderness:  Yes
Camping on River:  Yes
Location:  In the Pacific Region (OR), 540 miles Southeast of Portland
Shuttle Logistics: 

Put In: From the town of Rome, take US 95 east for about 17 miles and turn south onto Lower Soldier Creek Road (Three Forks green hwy sign). Continue on this road for about 35 miles to the put-in at Three Forks. The last 2 miles are steep and rough down to the bottom of the canyon. A high clearance vehicle is recommended and four wheel drive is required when wet (sometimes impassable when wet). Motorhomes or trailers over 12 feet are not recommended.

Take Out: To reach the river access at Rome, drive to the east end of the US 95 bridge over the Owyhee at Rome and turn south onto a gravel road. Follow this road about a quarter mile to the parking area and boat ramp.

Middle Owyhee on the Owyhee River

An Owyhee National Wild River Boating guide is available.  Contact the BLM offices above to obtain one. We weren't able to find one online but we have one from 1999.  This description is based on the information contained in this book.

Mile 0: Three Forks Launch Site. There are 4 primitive campsites here with a toilet and parking area.

Mile 1.5: Cabin on river right with hot springs. Shortly there after you will encounter The Ledge Rapid, class IV+. Porcupine Creek enters on the left at the bottom of the rapid.

Mile 5.5: Deary Pasture campsite on river left.

Mile 6: Loveland Canyon Campsite on river left.

Mile 10: Indian Creek enters on the right.  Half Mile Rapid, Class IV-V follows on a sharp right hand bend. 

Mile 11: Raft Flip rapid, Class III on a left hand bend.

Mile 14: A Spring on river left.

Mile 15.5: Subtle Hole Rapid, class III.

Mile 16: Bombshelter Drop, class III-IV. Campsite on river left below Bombshelter Drop.

Mile 18: Skull creek enters on the left. Campsite here at mouth of canyon. Shark Tooth Rapid, class III follows.

Mile 19: Soldier Creek Canyon enters on the right.  The last 2 campsites before Widow Maker are at the mouth of the canyon.

Mile 21: Class III rapids upstream and downstream of a gentle left hand turn.  Widowmaker, Class V+ possible portage, follows just downstream.

Mile 22: More Class III rapids and two campsites on river right.

Mile 25.5: Campsite on river right on a right hand bend.

Mile 26: Campsite on river right just before a gentle left hand bend.

Mile 31: Sand Hollow comes in on the left and there are warm springs. A campsite on river right just downstream.

Mile 34: Scotts Dam ruins and warm springs on your left.

Mile 39: Rome Launch Site on river right.

Last Edited by josho on 4/26/2011

Towns near Middle Owyhee Kayaking

Boise Idaho
John Day Oregon
La Grande Oregon
Lakeview Oregon
Ontario Oregon

Other Resources

Conservation Organizations
  • Rogue Riverkeeper
  • Water Watch
  • Pacific Coast Kayak Clubs
  • Lower Columbia Canoe Club
  • Oregon Kayak and Canoe Club
  • Oregon Whitewater Association
  • Willamette Kayak and Canoe Club
  • Travel Guides
  • Oregon Vacation & Travel Planner