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Trip – Grande Ronde River

a man riding on the back of a boat next to a forest

The Grande Ronde River is a tributary of the Snake River, which runs for 185 miles in northeastern Oregon and southeastern Washington. It begins in the Blue Mountains near Anthony Lakes in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and then flows through the agricultural Grande Ronde Valley, and finally through a number of scenic canyons in its lower course. The water is almost always cold because it consists of melt off from the Wallowa Mountains and the Minam and Wallowa Rivers.

Whitewater kayaking and rafting trips usually begin at the section below Minam, which is designated as Wild and Scenic and has great camping and opportunities to view wildlife. The river is much more exciting to run in the spring months when the levels swell and the rapids and waves increase in size and intensity. For boaters looking for a more solitary experience, late October and early November is recommended as the river sees a lot less traffic because the water levels are so low it is a challenge to navigate.

This is a great river to run for boaters with average skill, as the rapids are mostly mellow and there is plenty of places to recover gear and boats if accidents do occur. The river is surrounded on all sides by steep mountains and is still relatively isolated. Boaters should be prepared for extreme weather conditions and all be aware that both passes in and out of the river valley may get snowed in.

Minam to Troy on the Grande Ronde River

This long section of the river is a great multiday trip. At all flows you will find great whitewater, lower flows become very technical and challenging while high flows offer raft flipping waves. At very high water, above 6,000cfs, this section of the river can be completed in one long day.

The best time to do this river is during the warm months. After a good snowpack, there should still be enough water to make the rapids big and pushy, but warm temperatures make this a nice relaxing three-day float.

This river can be run all year. Winter offers great wildlife scenery, but very cold temperatures. Spring is the best time for a quick float, some days can be nice during the spring months, while other days you could be snowed on. During the summer this is a great way to beat the heat, and fall time runs present a very technical low volume river.

Difficulty: Class II 1,200-3,800 cfs , Class III 5,000-12,000 cfs

Good Level: 1,200 to 12,000 cfs

Run Length: 46 miles

We recommend using our Tomcat

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