Owyhee River [OW1]


This stretch of the Owyhee, an isolated, desert wilderness, contains by far the best whitewater on the Owyhee system. It’s best early spring; watercourses in this arid region have been reduced to a trickle by summer. Though this stretch of the Owyhee does not have the high, vertical walls of the canyons upstream, it is still a beautiful run. The long flat stretches between the sets of class III, IV, and V rapids allow you to enjoy the scenery while your heart slows down. As the water drops below 2000 cfs the run becomes more difficult for rafts because of rocks; below 1500 cfs it is probably too low to run in rafts.

The action begins at Ledge Rapid (Class IV), 1.5 miles after the put-in. Rapids follow in quick succession. The most difficult is Widowmaker (Class V), 20 miles from the put-in. Widowmaker is in a narrow, straight stretch of canyon with a talus slope on the right. It can be scouted and portaged on the right.

The Owyhee is reputed to have a healthy rattlesnake population, so keep your eyes open and your toes nimble. An excellent detailed river guide is available from the BLM in Boise. There are commercial trips available.


The take-out is at Rome, Oregon, where U.S. 95 crosses the Owyhee. To reach the put-in, go 16 miles east on U.S. 95. Turn south on a dirt road. Continue 35 miles to Three Forks.Additional Info: The BLM is Boise offers an excellent boating guide. Also a waterproof mile-by-mile map is available from: River Graphics, 95 Camino Basque, Boulder, CO 80302

River Stats



IV- to IV+

Trip Length

50 mi (15 mi. paved)




USGS Realtime Streamflow