Owyhee River – 5-7 Day Trip

Owyhee River (66.5 miles) Rome to Leslie Gulch

The Owyhee River arises from the mountains of northern Nevada and southern Idaho, because the snowpack in the headwaters is normally not deep, the springtime runoff is rather short-lived despite the impoundment at Antelope and Wild Horse reservoirs far upstream. The Owyhee River has cut a canyon as deep as 3,000 feet down through volcanic rock. In many places the cliffs rise 1,000 feet straight up from the river. The countryside is arid with little vegetation and no inhabitants. The steepness of the cliffs and narrowness of the canyon provide a fascinating experience.

This particular stretch of the river has an interesting diverse landscape. The canyon in general is broad and shallow, although there are several stretches with narrow, steep-walled inner canyons. The predominant basalts found in the upper canyon are interbedded with rhyolitic ash and sediments, which add various shades of white, red, green, and black to the canyon walls. Lambert Rocks are colorful badlands eroded from these sediments.

Six and one-half miles from the Rome put in; Crooked Creek comes in on the left, marking the start of the canyon. The canyon opens for several miles; about 6 miles below Crooked Creek is Upset Rapids, class III, followed by Bullseye, class II-III. Artillery Rapids (mile 21.5) is a straightforward class III. About 1 mile below this rapid, Rustlers Cabin makes a nice break stop along the right. The cabin has been badly damaged over the last ten years, and only some of the walls remain. Old farm equipment and rock corrals here are impressive historic sights. Look for a hot spring near the river within the marshy area if you crave a warm soak.

Lambert Rocks rise majestically along the left 2 miles beyond Rustlers Cabin. After beautiful Lamert Rocks, Bogus Creek Falls is seen on the right at mile 27.5. Another 1.5 miles farther is class III Dogleg; after 2 more miles comes Whistling Bird Rapids, class IV-. Continuing along, the next rapid you encounter is Montgomery rapid, the canyon narrows dramatically as it makes an S-turn and then widens again. Next look for beautiful, spring-fed Rinehart Creek which cascades down the left bank. Just downstream of Rinehart Creek is Morcum Dam rapid, formed by the remains of an old diversion dam for Hole-in-the-Ground Ranch.

A mile below the ranch, on the left, look for some historic Indian petroglyphs on rock slabs near the river. Respect the area and take only photos. A hot spring is located at a grassy spot on the left just 2 miles below the petroglyphs. We will continue past Birch Creek Historic Ranch to Leslie Gulch for a powerboat pull to the take out.

This trip is always a custom package for your group lasting from 5-7 days. The menu, launch points/take out points may be altered upon request. Call well in advance for your reservations – prices will vary depending on trip options.

This is a spectacular early Spring river adventure that all river enthusiasts should experience!