Grande Ronde River

Packraft wild and scenic rivers in northeast Oregon and the Wallowas, typically a seven-day trip.

FLOW

PUT-INS

  • Minam, OR: This is the most commonly used put in and provides access to the "Wild and Scenic" river section, the most popular section.

Take-Outs

  • Troy, OR: A common take out. Taking out here you will have run the most remote section of the Grande Ronde.
  • Boggan's Oasis: Another day downstream, Boggan's Oasis is more accessible, and there is less driving.
  • Heller Bar: On the Snake River, just downstream from the Grande Ronde confluence.  

On The River

Most rapids on the Grande Ronde are rated Class 3. At flows of 6,000 cfs or below, these are often big water—fast moving water and standing waves. Packrafts handle these types of rapids fairly easily. Any of these rapids may have difficult features but these are easily avoided. At flows below 2,000 cfs, the rapids may become more difficult because of technical maneuvering around exposed rocks. At flows above 10,000 cfs, the rapids may have more powerful hydraulics. The most difficult rapid, The Narrows, is easily scouted and portaged on river left.

Minam To Grande Ronde

At Minam launch into the Wallow and paddle for 10 miles to its confluence with the Grande Ronde. There are three rapids in this section:

  • Minam Roller: A large wave that may roll a boat. The most powerful part of the wave can usually be passed river right.
  • Red Rock Rapids: A short drop near a red rock. Hit it right and it is not a problem. Mess up and there is a good recovery pool.
  • Blind Falls Rapid: A ledge drop with several chutes.

Wallowa Confluence to Troy

At the confluence, the river doubles in volume. A few miles further down enter the wild river section which is mostly forested. There are numerous campsites through this section, some very large accommodating groups of 25 or more and others suitable for smaller groups. Shortly before Troy, houses appear along the river.

  • Sheep Creek: At a right hand bend enter a stretch of standing waves.
  • Martins Misery: A train of standing waves.
  • Double Eddy: A tight left then right bend creates two eddies. Straight forward at 5,000 cfs.  At higher flows the hydraulics become more powerful.

Troy to Boggan

The forest is left behind and the river now flows through a canyon with open, grassy slopes and sparse trees. A road follows the river and there are several access points. Some of the land is private and there are occasional dwellings. At Boggan's Oasis there are toilets and a fast food restaurant.

Boggan to Heller Bar

The environment's desert nature deepens. This section is less traveled by boaters and, though there are signs of people on the banks, it feels less used. The river flows through the Chief Joseph State Wildlife Area where there are 7 miles without road access. More of the shoreline is private and campgrounds are less common.

The river finishes with two significant rapids, both can be run on the take-out day. 

  • The Narrows: There are two sections to this rapid. First the river narrows to a channel with standing waves. This is probably Class 3. Below this it opens to a pool where paddling becomes easier. The pool drains down a chute to create a Class 4 wave. Then another pool which drains down an easier chute to the calm river. The big wave can be bypassed river right in Class 3 drops. This rapid is easily scouted and portaged on river left.
  • Bridge Rapids: A section of large standing waves before going under a bridge.

Logistics

Car Shuttle

It is a long car shuttle from any take-out back to Minam. A party can set up its own shuttle but this makes driving time on the first and last day considerably longer, and may require more vehicles. The Minam Store offers car shuttle service and is well worth considering.

Getting there and back

If you are using the Minam Store car shuttle service, it is easy to drive to Minam and put-in by early afternoon.  Similarly, on at the end of your trip it is easy to complete the remaining miles, take-out, and drive home.  

Water

The Grande Ronde is downstream from a lot of agriculture—it is best to not drink its water. Carry all drinking water—refills can be obtained at Troy and Bogan's Oasis.

Human Waste

Human waste must be carried out. Below Troy, there are occasional outhouses at access points.

Notes

  • Difficulty: *Varies*, Class III River, Class IV River
  • Length: 91.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: -1,800 ft
  • 2,600 ft
  • Land Manager: Oregon-Washington BLM
  • Parking Permit Required: None
  • Recommended Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Party Size: 25
  • Maximum Route/Place Capacity: 25
Map
  • Avenza: Wallowa and Grande Ronde Rivers Boater's Guide
Activities

Upcoming Activities

Whitewater Packraft - Wallowa & Grand Ronde Rivers

Packrafting Trip
A fun and challenging week on a scenic, remote high desert river in northeast Oregon
Difficulty: *Varies*, Class III River, Class IV River
Sat, Apr 22, 2023 - Sat, Apr 29, 2023
Prerequisites, Leader's Permission Required
0 participants 0 leaders
Registration closes Apr 20
Seattle Branch
Trip Reports
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  • Wallowa & Grand Ronde Rivers
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