The Upper Owyhee begins where the flow converges from Duck Valley in Idaho and continues in to Oregon. The 36 mile trip below Crutcher typically takes 2 to 3 days to Three Forks or you may continue on downstream to Rome or farther. The canyon is magnificent. Most of the run is a float trip but there are a few class III rapids and a couple of more challenging rapids: Cabin and Cable.
Cabin Rapid is approximately 1/2 mile long and if you plan to scout you will want to do it in stages. It is easily recognized by the stone cabin on river right, followed by a right bend. At the top of the rapid, run left of the giant boulder that splits the current, because the right side leads to narrow slots between huge boulders. The flow combines beyond the giant boulders into a class III-IV big water section, then a brief slowdown at lower flows, then the river splits again around a cobble island and the whitewater continues. Either side can be run, but at 1100 at Crutcher the left entrance, then cutting to the right below the island, had eddies for boat scouting.
There are three relatively easy class III rapids in the space between Cabin and Cable.
Cable Rapid is easily recognized by its increased gradient leading toward a line of boulders with no obvious passage. Eddy right to scout. There is a cable affixed to boulders on river right that has been used by fishermen to portage their boats. The right channel leads to an impassable sieve. The center slot may be runnable by a kayak. The far left slot looks runnable however the move to get left is class V in difficulty and hazard, at least at 1100cfs. I'm told the rapid is easily runnable in canoes at very low water, and it probably develops into hellishly big holes at high water, though a left sneak may open up.
Hiring a shuttle is recommended for this run.
Named after the steel cable
Due to the oil company refusing public access to the Garat Road in 2017, we launched at Duck Valley, adding 20+ miles and significant whitewater to the run. There is a BLM self-registration kiosk on river left at Garat.
Alternate put-in: Garat Crossing, on the EF above the Deep Creek confluence.
Brochure - Protecting Our Desert Heritage
A comprehensive set of actions to direct and guide future management of the Main, West Little and North Fork Owyhee Rivers.
There is a USFS gauge at Crutcher:
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
Take Out Road Conditions
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.
<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Idaho is proposing a $13 registration fee for non-motorized boats greater than 7 feet in length. Under this registration fee proposal all kayaks and rafts on Idaho waters would be required to have a registration sticker fixed to the bow of each boat greater than 7 feet in length. Stickers would not be transferable between boats. Out of state boaters would be required to comply as well.
Log into the American Whitewater website and you can contribute to river descriptions,
flow and access tips, and maps associated with runs you've done. You can even add new
runs to the inventory!