|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
This is a wild, remote paddle that only sees optimal flows once a year (usually in May). Here are essential details:
PROTOCOL Register with the Bureau of Land Management Lower Snake River District, 3948 Development Ave., Boise, ID 83705; (208) 384-3300. On the river, camp on durable surfaces like gravel bars and beaches or dry, grassy benches. Cook with a stove. If you want to build a campfire, collect only driftwood; a fire pan is required.
Reality check: These canyons demand class III-IV paddling skills. The region is extremely remote; the only possible communication with the outside is via satellite phone, and rescue or evacuation in the case of injury or roads becoming impassable due to heavy rains can take days. Have someone in your party with wilderness first responder certification.
PUT-IN/TAKEOUT We put in on Deep Creek, on private property, which required permission from the owners of Brace Ranch. To get there from US 95 in Jordan Valley, OR, drive east on Pleasant Valley Road, which becomes Juniper Mountain/Mud Flat Road. Follow it for 57.2 miles, to Deep Creek (too shallow to launch here); turn south (Zone 11T, E 511935, N 4706209) onto a narrow dirt road and continue 16.7 miles to the put-in (turn left at a fence line where the road forks, E 525279, N 4692517).
The commonly used launch site on the East Fork, requiring no permissions, is Garat Crossing, above Deep Creek and six miles northwest of Duck Valley Indian Reservation. To reach the takeout at Three Forks on the main Owyhee, which requires no permissions: At 22.4 miles from Jordan Valley on Juniper Mountain/Mud Flat Road, turn southwest onto Fenwick Ranch Road. Continue about 17 miles, then turn left onto Three Forks Road and continue about five miles to its end at Three Forks, where there’s primitive self-service camping. All access roads require high-clearance, 4WD vehicles when dry and become impassable when wet.
CAMPING AND WATER There are numerous potential campsites along the river, all unmarked and undeveloped, but indicated on the map and guide (see below). Note side creeks and springs marked on the map as water sources; they’re cleaner than the river. Poison ivy is widespread, as are rattlesnakes in warmer weather.
MAP AND GUIDE Order the Owyhee & Bruneau River Systems Boating Guide, $10 from the BLM, 1387 South Vinnell Way, Boise, ID 83709; (208) 373-4000.
SHUTTLE SERVICE Eva Matteri, Jordan Valley, OR, (541) 586-2352.
KAYAK RENTALS Boise State University Outdoor Program, (208) 426-1946, rec.boisestate.edu/outdoor. Idaho River Sports, Boise, ID, (208) 336-4844, idahoriversports.com.
GUIDE SERVICE Barker River Expeditions, (208) 836-5551, barkerriver.com.
CONTACT Bureau of Land Management Owyhee field office, (208) 384-3300, blm.gov/id/st/en/fo/owyhee.html.