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Right Place, Perfect Time: Best River Paddle

Hit Idaho's Owyhee River just right, and you get one of the West's best paddles to yourself.

PLAN IT
The Upper Owyhee River
Paddle through guaranteed solitude for 82 miles. 

Day one From Deep Creek put-in, paddle a narrow gorge to a gravel bar campsite on river right (at 10.2 miles).
Day two Continue down Deep Creek; stop to explore a slot canyon at 12.2 miles, on river left. Camp at the confluence with the East Fork of the Owyhee at mile 22.2.
Day three Enter Lambert Gorge, portage Owyhee Falls (mile 32.5). Continue to beach camp on river right, at 34.1 miles.
Day four Portage a boulder jam called Thread the Needle (mile 35.5). Float to super campsites at the confluence with the South Fork of the Owyhee (mile 44.7).
Day five Side hike up Duke’s Canyon at mile 51.4, river right. Camp on grassy bench several feet above the river (mile 56.6).
Day six Run class IV Cabin Rapid and
class III wave trains. Portage class V Cable Rapid. Camp on river right (mile 64.5).
Day seven Camp at a gravel bar on river left (at 78 miles) and hike 10 minutes downstream to warm springs pools.
Day eight Paddle the last 4.2 miles on easy-moving flat water to Three Forks (mile 82.2) and your take-out.

Put-in The author’s party started on private property along Deep Creek, which required permission from the landowners. Ask a local shuttle driver (see below) to serve as a liaison. Alternatively, use the public Garat Crossing launch site on the East Fork, which cuts just one mile from the itinerary; it’s upstream of Deep Creek and six miles northwest of Duck Valley Indian Reservation. Take-out End at Three Forks on the main Owyhee. 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 go about five miles to its end (where there’s primitive camping). Access roads require high-clearance, 4WD, and can become impassable when wet.

Info No permit required, but register with the BLM’s Lower Snake River District Field office. Map Owyhee & Bruneau River Systems Boating Guide ($10, 208-373-4000) Shuttle Eva Matteri, (541) 586-2352 Kayak rentals Idaho River Sports, idahoriversports.com Guide Barker River Expeditions; barkerriver.com Contact BLM Owyhee field office, (208) 384-3300; blm.gov/id/st/en/fo/owyhee.html GPS Get the tracklog and key waypoints at backpacker.com/owyhee.

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