Grande Ronde River – 4 Days by Packraft

Join us on a 4-day packrafting trip down the Wallowa and Grande Ronde Rivers in NE Oregon and SE Washington.

The Grande Ronde is a National Wild and Scenic River, administered by the BLM, Oregon Parks and Recreation and the US Forest Service.

Four of us paddled Alpacka packrafts. We put-in on the Wallowa River in Minam, with the river flowing at 4,400 cubic feet per second (cfs), and took-out 4 days and 65.5 miles later on the Grande Ronde River at Boggan’s Oasis.

Day 1 included paddling Minam Roller (Class 2) and ended with camp in a forest at river’s edge. Day 2 involved running Red Rock Rapid (Class 2), practice with the throw rope and nice camping on an island fragrant with flowering mock orange. Day 3 started off with a photo shoot of spotted sandpipers wading in the shallows, a lot more Class 2 paddling, a bit of rescue practice and a hike up a grassy hill. Day 4 was a more relaxing paddle. After taking out at Boggan’s Oasis (and snagging a raspberry milkshake), we escaping the heat at the river and bush camped in a ponderosa pine grove at 4800 feet overlooking the Joseph Canyon.

Important logistics for floating the Grande Ronde River:

  • The BLM has excellent information on floating the river on their website and Boating Information PDF.
  • A boater’s permit is required to float the Wallowa and Grande Ronde River.  You can get the free self-serve permit at the put-in.
  • Check the river’s flow forecast from NOAA.
  • The American Whitewater page for Grande Ronde Minam-Troy and Troy-Boggan’s Oasis have useful information.  We floated both sections.  While Minam to Troy was fairly busy with other raft groups, we had Troy to Boggan’s Oasis to ourselves.
  • American Whitewater recommends flows in the range 1000-13,000 cfs.  Our trip ranged 4400 to 4500 cfs.
  • The BLM publishes a detailed Boater’s Guide with detailed river maps.  You can purchase this at Minam Store, or BLM offices.  Or, download it to your phone here.
  • Some of the surrounding areas are agricultural and range land.  I recommend packing your own water.  I consumed about 3 liters/day.
  • You need to carry out all human waste.  I used Cleanwaste GO Anywhere bags stored in a dry bag.  Bring additional TP and hand sanitizer to supplement what comes in each bag.  Those with larger boats should consider carrying something similar to the Cleanwaste Go Anywhere Portable Toilet.
  • Campfires need to be contained in fire pans.  Be prepared to cook on stoves.
  • Bring binoculars to scout for wildlife up on the hills.  You could see mountain sheep, deer, snake, eagles, sand pipers and lots of other birds.

 

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