This designated Wild and Scenic River flows through a deep basalt canyon in the remote desert country of southeast Oregon.
Note that the current owners of Steens Mountain Resort don't have capacity to run shuttles so that service is no longer available.
The Donner Und Blitzen River is a remote, seldom paddled run in a scenic canyon. The first challenge is familiarizing yourself with Steens Mountain. Not many people get out here. The second is timing the run-off. This is a small river with a small window. Don't let that slow you down though-- it's fun, scenic, and in a very interesting area.
The description in Soggy Sneakers is pretty spot-on. If you don't have a copy of that, try this: http://www.efn.org/~jpreed/Soggyup.html#Donner
As of 5/08, there is a short portage due to wood about 1/4 mile down from the put-in. The river split around a small island. The left is willow-choked and the right is blocked by a toppled tree. You can portage on either side or right down the island and get back in on the tail end of the island.
We did an overnight run and camped at Tombstone Canyon. There are a few other areas that would be big enough for camping as well.
Other than that, Cramer and Hodges description is pretty accurate. The rapids at the top are technical, steep and fun. In general, the lower on the run you get, the less technical the rapids are.
I would not recommend this as a run for people who have not done much technical paddling. It is remote and there are plenty of opportunites for broaches and pins. There isn't much room for rolls, either. But if you have solid creek skills, give it a try.
Use the Steens Mountain Resort people for your shuttle. They can help you with access if needed and willingly share information of the area. They'll take care of you.
The hotel in Frenchglen has food and good beer after the run too.
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This week, Oregon House Bill 2835 re-passed the Oregon House on a 52-7 vote. Having earlier cleared the Senate, the bill now awaits a signature from the Governor to be signed into law. For decades, opportunities to protect and improve the ability of the public to access and legally use waterways for recreation have seen minimal progress, while efforts to severely limit access have been a consistent threat. Oregon House Bill 2835 is a pivotal piece of legislation in Oregon, and the first proactive waterway access bill in recent history to have made it through the state legislature.
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