Owyhee River

90 Miles Southwest of Boise

The remote Owyhee River features spectacular canyon and desert scenery. The Owyhee may be Idaho's most secluded river. Hidden among thousands of square miles of canyons and sagebrush desert where Idaho, Nevada, and Oregon meet, the river was named for a group of Hawaiians who disappeared up the river in 1810. (Owyhee was a phonetic spelling of Hawaii.)

Five different stretches of the Owyhee are known for their whitewater. The Upper Owyhee passes through a deep canyon with grand scenery. The Middle Owyhee is a favorite with serious boaters, a steep, turbulent run that includes Widowmaker, the most famous rapid. The East Fork is a demanding trip but worth it for the deep gorge, bighorn lambing grounds, falcons and mountain lions. The South Fork has sweeping views of the high country and long Class II-III rapids. The Rome to Lake Owyhee run is a popular intermediate run, with a couple of drops rated up to Class IV.

Getting There: The turn off to Three Forks is 17 miles south of Jordan Valley. The trip to the put-in is 36 miles of dirt road.

LOCATION: 90 miles southwest of Boise
RECREATION: Rafting, Kayaking, Canoeing
PUT-IN: Three Forks
TAKE-OUT: Rome
PERIOD RUNNABLE: Spring
DIFFICULTY: Class III-IV
LENGTH OF TYPICAL TRIP: 2 days
PERMIT NEEDED: None needed
REGULATIONS: Firepan required
LENGTH OF SHUTTLE: 53 miles
OPTIMAL FLOW: 1500
SIZE: 35-mile river trip


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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