This is a classic multi-day trip in northeastern Oregon popular in late spring and it
makes a great trip to share time with friends and family on the river. There are other sections on the
Grande Ronde but this one is especially popular because it flows through a remote and forested
wilderness canyon designated as a Wild and Scenic River. Just upstream the river flows through
agricultural lands and small communities and downstream of the take-out in Troy the river enters a
more arid landscape making shade harder to find. The scenery on this run is characterized by basalt
terraces and open forests that provide excellent wildlife viewing opportunities (photo). Sitings of elk, deer, and even the
occassional bear are common. Campsites are available in forested groves along the river (photo). On a weekday you
may have the river to yourself but you can expect competition for campsites on the weekends. This 45
mile run takes about 9 hours of float time at medium flows and although you can easily run the river in
two days, it is common to take 3 days and enjoy the great riverside camping and hiking
The run starts out on the Wallowa River shortly after its confluence with the Minam River at the Highway 82
bridge. A railroad serving a local excursion train runs along river right for the first 10 miles of this run
until you reach the Grande Ronde confluence. This first segment down the Wallowa contains good
continuous class II along with 3 of the 5 named rapids on the run. The first rapid is the Minam Roller
which can be a fun surf spot (photo). The next significant drop is the House Rock Rapids where a large
boulder sits midstream with an easy route down the left hand side (photo). A short distance downstream
you will come upon Blind Falls Rapid. There is a good route down the center that avoids the blind ledge
to river right. More fun class II takes you down to the confluence. Use caution as you navigate through
the bridge pilings at the confluence (photo).
As you start your journey down the Grande Ronde you soon enter the Wild and Scenic
River corridor and start to see the good camp spots. The gradient tapers off slightly but at medium
flows the river continues to move along at a good pace. Sheep Creek Rapid is located a little over a mile
downstream of the confluence and is a relatively straightforward boulder garden that you can boat
scout (photo). It's just
under 10 miles to the final named rapid on this run known as Martin's Misery which is another boulder
garden (photo). Some of
the best campsites on the run are found in the section downstream of Martin's Misery.
You will likely see the road in the distance as you approach the Powwatka Bridge (photo). There is access
right at the bridge on river right or alternatively at a site a short distance downstream on river left. The
next 7 miles or so down to Troy are characterized by some human presence with a road along river left
and a few homes but it's still a great section and you can play around in Double Eddy, a fun feature
along a bedrock wall. As you approach the bridge in Troy, the take-out is on river right (photo). You can walk
across the bridge into town for a burger and a milkshake. While many take-out here you can continue
your trip down the Grande Ronde
downstream of Troy and into Washington where the trees begin to disappear and the river enters
more arid landscape. You can even continue all the way down to the Snake River.
The Grande Ronde runs through a remote canyon in northeastern Oregon. The put-in is
located at Highway 82 mile 33.5 on the downstream river left side of the bridge across the Wallowa
River. This highway starts in La Grande, OR which is the closest significant town. The Minam Store is
located at the put-in and provides raft rentals, shuttles, and a limited selection of supplies. Good
nearby camping is available at the Minam State Recreation Area which makes a good place to rendevous
with your group the evening before your run. To reach this camping area which has designated sites
with picnic tables and an outhouse, head 1.6 miles downstream from the put-in on a dirt road that runs
along the river left bank of the Wallowa (the turn for this road is reached by heading left away from the
store and then taking a right to head in the downstream direction). As an added bonus the Minam
Roller provides a fun surf wave for those who want to get in a session the evening before putting on.
The take-out is located at the old bridge in Troy on river right (this bridge is now closed
to vehicles but there is a new concrete bridge a short distance downstream). The most convenient
option is to arrange for a shuttle at the Minam Store so all your vehicles are waiting at the take-out
when you arrive.To get back home your best option is to head downstream and then east over to
Highway 3 where you can either continue north or south. Alternate routes are available through the
forest roads within the Umatilla National Forest and although some of these routes may look shorter on
the map, don't plan on them being any faster. One of these scenic options is Forest Road 62 which
heads west out of Troy and offers some great views and choice car camping.
The BLM publishes a river guide to the Grande Ronde which shows key landmarks and
campsites (you can probably pick this up at the Minam Store). John Garren's Oregon River Tours also
provides a good map to the run.
Confluence of the Minam River with the Grand Ronde River.
6 years ago
by Thomas O'Keefe
7 years ago
by Marcus Bratcher
The gauge is located at the take-out in Troy. Good
medium flows are around 4000 cfs and the prime
season is generally from April to July. For rafts, flows
of at least 1500 cfs are desireable but smaller boats
can get down at lower levels. At flows above 8000 cfs,
which can occur at the peak of snowmelt, eddies
diminish and some campsites may be unavailable.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
Just another awesome day on the Grande Rhonde
Canyon of the Grande Ronde
Powwatka Bridge Access
Martin's Misery Rapids
Camping on the Grande Ronde
Sheep Creek Rapids
Wallowa and Grande Ronde confluence
House Rock Rapid
Rafting the Grande Ronde
Surfing the Minam Roller
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
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.
This week Western Rivers Conservancy announced plans to purchase the Minam Store, a critical parcel at the confluence of the Minam and Wallowa Rivers that provides access to the Wild and Scenic Grande Ronde River.
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