WHEN YOU GO
The Owyhee River
River Outfitters: Updated lists on outfitters with Owyhee River permits are available from the Bureau of Land Management's Vale, Oregon, office - (541) 473-3144. The office also has information on maps, river guide booklets, vehicle shuttle services and towboat operators. The commercial outfitter with whom we traveled is Cascade River Runners, (800) 884-2113, email at email@example.com. Others include Destination Wilderness, (800) 423-8868, email at info@WildernessTrips.com; Erekson Outfitters, (800) 628-1996, email at firstname.lastname@example.org; Turtle River Rafting, (800) 726-3223, email at email@example.com; River Odysseys West, (800) 451-6034, email at firstname.lastname@example.org; and River Dancers, 302 Terry Lynn, Mt. Shasta CA 96067, (800) 926-5002, email at email@example.com, (see their Web site).
Getting There: Jordan Valley, the usual meeting place for commercial river trips, is about 70 miles from Boise, Idaho, 270 miles from Bend, Oregon, or 350 miles from Klamath Falls, Oregon. All three cities have commercial airports. From Boise, the nearest commercial airport, check outfitters for possible van shuttles or rent a vehicle. By car, Jordan Valley is located along Highway 95. From either Bend or Klamath Falls, eventually travel on Highway 20 to Burns, Highway 78 to Burns Junction and Highway 20 to Jordan Valley.
Staying There: Going to or from the river, the closest town is Jordan Valley. Plan to stay overnight in Jordan Valley the night before and after a river trip. The community's 400-plus residents live just a few miles from the Oregon-Idaho border. The town claims a rich history that includes a gold-mining heritage, cattle ranching and Basque sheepherders. Jordan Valley has two motels, the Basque Station Motel, (541) 586-2244, and the Sahara Motel, (541) 586-2810. Most popular with hungry recreationists is the Old Basque Inn, (541) 586-2298, which features steaks, some Basque dishes and occasional seafood buffets.
For information about the region's rich history read any of the books by Jordan Valley rancher-historian Mike Hanley, especially Owyhee Trails: The West's Forgotten Corner; Inside Out Oregon: A Best Places Guide to the Outdoors by Terry Richard; Sagebrush Country: A Wildflower Sanctuary, by Ronald J. Taylor; and Oregon's Outback by Donna Lynn Ikenberry. River guides include Owyhee National Wild River Boating Guide, by BLM's Vale District; Oregon River Tours, Volume II, by John Garren; and Western Whitewater, by Jim Cassady, Bill Cross and Fryar Calhoun.
Useful WWW links:
Vale District, Bureau of Land Management, www.or.blm.gov/Vale