Grande Ronde River Rafting



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Grande Ronde River Rafting
Our Grande Ronde raft trips are popular with those of our guests who're looking for mild white water and great scenic beauty. The Grande Ronde is also a great trip for fishing and for wildlife viewing.

Our Grande Ronde trips begin on the Wallowa, a Grande Ronde tributary. Both the Grande Ronde and the Wallowa flow out of the Wallowa mountains in northeastern Oregon, "Oregon's Alps". The Wallowa is clear, swift and steep. Most of the rapids we encounter are class II, but several are rated class II+ to III: Minam Roller, Redrock, and Vincent Falls. (Rapids are rated I through VI. Class I indicates the smallest rapids, while VI indicates steep, turbulent, dangerous rapids and waterfalls.)

We join the main stream roughly ten miles down. (The Wallowa is actually the larger of the two in terms of flow, but the longer stream gets to keep its name past the confluence.) Below the confluence the pace slows, but several long class II+ rapids remain, including Sheep Creek and Martin's Misery.

Our float takes us through what we think is some of the most beautiful and varied mountain scenery in the West. Bald eagles, black bear, and Rocky Mountain elk make their home here, and glacier lilies color the hillsides. We camp in beautiful meadows dotted with ponderosa pines and fragrant mock orange. Our camps are good places to fish, bird watch, or hunt for wildflowers -- all rewarding pastimes here. Take a walk and you may see columbine, sego lily, lupine or shooting stars growing along the shoreline, and golden eagles, pileated woodpeckers, western meadowlarks and evening grosbeaks in the sky above.

This tour may not be as well known as tours on waterways such as the Rogue or the Salmon, but it is their equal in many ways, and this is the one to choose if you're looking for mild rapids. It's a little-known gem of a trip. Join us, and discover its many facets for yourself!

Trip includes:

  • The services of our professional guides and staff.
  • Transportation from our take-out near Troy back to Minam at trip’s end on 3 day trips, and shuttle service for your car, so that it awaits you at Heller Bar on 5 day trips. 
  • All meals, from lunch on the first day through lunch on the last. Our menu is delicious, varied, and hearty. Meals are freshly prepared by our guides from the highest quality ingredients. Juice and water are available at each meal. Coffee, tea, and cocoa are available at dinner and breakfast, and complementary wine is served with some dinners. Special dietary needs may be accommodated with advance notice. We also provide cups, plates, and silverware.
  • Durable, professional quality rafts and river running equipment, including U.S. Coast Guard Approved lifejackets.
  • Waterproof river bags and boxes for your personal gear.
  • Camp chairs.

 

 

O.R.E. conducts these tours under a special use permit issued by the U.S. Forest Service for the Umatilla National Forest. O.R.E. is an equal opportunity service provider.   (Non-discrimination statement.)

 

You can reserve your place on a 2014 O.R.E. Grande Ronde River trip online or by phone  

 

It's easy, fast and secure to sign up online: just click the Book a Trip button below to get started. Or call us at 503-563-1500 or 800-827-1358 during office hours* if you'd like to sign up over the phone instead. (*9 AM to 5 PM Monday - Friday during the rafting season, and 10 AM - 4 PM Monday - Thursday off-season.)

We accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover Card and American Express credit (and debit) cards online and over the phone. If you'd like to pay by check instead then please call us or submit a Reservation Request (see below) so that we can hold your trip for you while you put a check in the mail.

Please review our Deposit Schedule and our Terms of Sale before you book your trip. You'll want to become familiar with our payment, cancellation, and refund policies before you proceed. And please note that you will be required to sign a Participant Agreement. You may want to review a copy of this Agreement before you reserve your river trip. 


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Not quite ready to book a trip but don't want to risk losing your chance to sign up?


Use our online Trip Request form to ask that we hold one or more spots for you. We will respond (usually within 24 hours) to your inquiry to confirm availability of the requested trip and to provide further details. Or if you prefer you can call us to ask that we hold one or more spots for you.

Advance payment is required in order to convert a hold to a confirmed reservation. Most holds expire five days after we have responded to your hold request.


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Before you reserve online or by phone:

Please review our Deposit Schedule and our Terms of Sale to familiarize yourself with our deposit, cancellation, and refund policies. Please also note that you will be required to sign a Guest Form and Participant Agreement. You may view a copy of this if you wish to review its content before reserving your river trip. We will send you a copy when we confirm your reservation.

 

 

Trip Length
Whitewater Rating
Availability
About Availability
Price per person
Adult ||| Youth ||| Group
Three Days
II+
By request for groups of eight or more.
$460 ||||| $400 |||||| $395
 
Five Days
II+
By request for groups of six or more.
$750 ||||| $675 |||||| $650
 
 


Notes -

  • The recommended minimum age for most of our Grande Ronde River trips is 6. 
  • Youth prices are available to participants age 15 and under when accompanied by an adult.
  • Group rates apply to parties of 12 or more. Additional discounts may apply may be available for large groups - please call for details.
  • Prices include all taxes and fees. More about our prices.
  • Please review our Deposit Schedule and our Terms of Sale to familiarize yourself with our deposit, cancellation, and refund policies.

 

Trip Itinerary

First morning

We meet at 9:00 AM on the day your trip begins on the riverbank adjacent to the Minam Store in Minam, Oregon. Minam is approximately 35 miles northeast of La Grande, and roughly 260 miles east of Portland. (Please have your breakfast before our meeting time, and arrive in your river clothes.) Look for our boats, and for a vehicle sporting the O.R.E. logo. We'll show you how to pack your things into our river bags, and you'll park your vehicles nearby. Then, after a short safety and orientation briefing, which will include instruction on paddle and rowing techniques as needed, we'll be on our way downstream.

On the river

Each day is a bit different. But a typical day on the river begins with freshly brewed coffee around 7 AM, and breakfast by 8 AM. After breakfast we’ll pack our bags and load the boats. Then, after a brief orientation to the day’s adventures, we’ll head downstream.

We’re on the river between three and five hours per day. Along the way we stop for a riverside picnic lunch. We may also stop to scout rapids, or to take a short hike up scenic side streams. We usually arrive in camp by mid to late afternoon, and while the guides prepare hors d’oeuvres and dinner, you’ll have time to hike, fish, read, or nap.

Last day

3 Day: We typically arrive at Powatka Bridge, our take-out point, between 1:30 and 3 P. M. Once we’ve unpacked, you’ll board a van or bus for the ride back to Minam. (On small trips, we will completely de-rig the boats, and our guides will accompany you back to Minam. On larger trips, you will say good-bye to the guides when you leave the take-out, as they will stay behind to finish de-rigging.) The ride takes about two hours thirty minutes, and is an exceptionally scenic drive. We arrive back in Minam between 4:30 and 6:30 PM.

5 Day: We typically arrive at Heller, our take-out point, around 3 P. M. Our shuttle service will have shuttled your car to Heller Bar, so once we've unpacked, you’ll be on your way.

Trip Highlights
For the first ten miles of our journey we'll be floating the Wallowa River, the Grande Ronde's biggest tributary. (The Wallowa is actually the larger of the two rivers in terms of flow, but the Grande Ronde, being the longer river, gets to keep its name past the confluence.)

The Wallowa is clear, swift and steep. Most of the rapids we encounter are class II, with several class II+ to III rapids: Minam Roller, Redrock, and Vincent Falls. (Rapids are rated I through VI. Class I indicates the smallest rapids, while VI indicates steep, turbulent, dangerous rapids and waterfalls.)

Below the confluence the pace slows, but several long class II+ rapids remain, including Sheep Creek and Martin's Misery.

We camp in beautiful meadows dotted with ponderosa pines and fragrant mock orange. Our camps are good places to fish, bird watch, or hunt for wildflowers -- all rewarding pastimes on the Grande Ronde. Take a walk, and you may see columbine, sego lily, lupine, shooting stars, or monkeyflower growing along the river, and golden eagles, pileated woodpeckers, western meadowlarks, and evening grosbeaks in the sky above.
What's included
  • The services of our professional guides and staff.
  • Transportation to our take out near Troy back to Minam at journey's end on 3 day trips, and shuttle service for your car so that it awaits you at Heller Bar on 5 day trips.
  • All meals, from lunch on the first day through lunch on the last. Our menu is delicious, varied, and hearty. Meals are freshly prepared by our guides from the highest quality ingredients. Juice and water are available at each meal. Coffee, tea, and cocoa are available at dinner and breakfast, and complementary wine is served with some dinners. Special dietary needs may be accommodated with advance notice. We also provide cups, plates, and silverware.
  • Durable, professional quality rafts and river running equipment, including U.S. Coast Guard Approved lifejackets. 
  • Waterproof river bags and boxes for your personal gear.
  • Camp chairs.
Where and when to meet
We will meet at 9:00 AM on the day your trip begins, on the riverbank adjacent to the Minam Store in Minam, Oregon. Minam is approximately 35 miles northeast of La Grande, and roughly 280 miles east of Portland.

To get to Minam, take Interstate 84 to La Grande, and exit onto Oregon Highway 82. Follow Highway 82 to Minam. At the sign pointing to Minam State Park, you will see the Minam Store on the left, next to the Wallowa River. The closest commercial airport is Pendleton, Oregon (85 miles from Minam). It is serviced by Alaska Airlines. Plan your flight to arrive the day before your river trip begins.

No public transportation is available from Pendleton to Minam, but rental cars are available.
Pre and post trip shuttles
3 day trips: Your trip fare includes transportation from our take-out point back to Minam at trip’s end. However, if you would rather have your car at takeout, shuttle service for your vehicle can be arranged through the Minam Store when you arrive for your river trip. We have used them for many years, and have found them to be very helpful and dependable. Their charge to drive a vehicle from Minam to takeout is approximately $50.

5 day trips: Your trip fare includes a car shuttle. Our shuttle service will transport your car from Minam to Heller Bar, so that your car awaits you at trip's end. For your convenience please bring two sets of car keys to the river with you if possible.
What to bring
When you sign up for your river adventure we will send you a complete list of what to bring. This list is also available online. In general you'll need to bring only your own clothing and toiletries, plus a tent, sleeping bag and sleeping pad. If you do not own or do not wish to transport these last three items we have them available for rent. Follow the link above to our checklist page for more information on rental gear, or call our office at 1-800-827-1358.
Weather

Today's weather -

  WXPort

Weather for the Grande Ronde River

Weather statistics -
  May June July
Average daytime high temperature 68 77 86
Average nighttime low temperature 41 48 53
Average monthly rainfall 1.6" 1.4" 0.6"

 

River flow
Today's Grande Ronde River water level    (opens in new window)

Average flow chart   (opens in new window)
Fishing
Fishing on the Grande Ronde is often quite good for steelhead in the spring, and trout in the summer. If you would like to fish you’ll need an Oregon fishing license, which may be purchased at Oregon sporting goods stores or online at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's web site.
Camping while on the river
We select meadows and forest glens for our camp sites. Our guides establish a central kitchen and social area, and trip members select spots in the surrounding area to pitch a tent or roll out a sleeping bag.

The guides will set up a portable toilet at each camp, which will be located with privacy and convenience in mind.

O.R.E. practices minimum impact camping, and the crew will instruct you on the simple steps we follow to protect the river.
Pre and post trip lodging and camping
La Grande, the nearest sizable town, offers numerous hotels. The Best Western Motor Inn (541-963-4498) and Super 8 Motel (541-963-2925) are two options.

Camping is available at Minam State Park, just a few minutes drive from the Minam Store.

For post-trip lodging on 5 day trips we recommend the Red Lion Hotel in Lewiston. For reservations phone 800-232-6730. They offer a discount to our customers, so be sure to tell them you're taking a river trip with Oregon River Experiences. For a lower price (but fewer amenities) we recommend Inn America (across the street from the Red Lion). Again, in order to receive the best rate tell them you are taking a river trip with O.R.E. For camping, try Hells Gate State Park, just south of Lewiston.
Nearby attractions
While in the area you may want to visit the beautiful Wallowa Mountains. Some of the Wallowa's many attractions are the Eagle Cap Wilderness, the towns of Enterprise and Joseph, and Wallowa Lake. For more information contact the Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce at P.O. Box 427, Enterprise, OR 97828, (541) 426-4622. Also nearby is Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. For more information contact HCNRA at P.O. Box 699, Clarkston, WA 99403, (509) 758-1957.
Gratuities
Our guests sometimes ask whether it is appropriate to tip the guides. Tipping is optional, but if your guides did a great job then feel free to thank them with a gratuity. The amount is up to you, but tips between 8% and 20% of trip cost are typical. Gratuities are customarily presented to the Lead Guide, and will be shared equally among all guides on your trip.

 

 

 

 

River Map:
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Grande Ronde River map - Oregon River Experiences
Road Map & Directions:
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Getting to the Grande Ronde - Oregon River Experiences
Interactive Map:
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Interactive map

 

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Trips available by request are trips we create in response to the needs of our guests. Minimum group size restrictions apply.

I      Calm water, small waves.
II    Medium waves, clear channels.
III   Big waves, maneuvering required. Exciting!
IV    Steep, demanding rapids. Very exciting!!
V     Extreme whitewater. Thrilling but dangerous.
VI    Not raftable.

Youth prices available to participants age 15 and under when accompanied by an adult.

Prices include all taxes and fees.
Grande Ronde River - Our second mildest multiday whitewater trip (after the John Day). Forested canyon. Clear, cool water. Good fishing. A great trip for bird watching and wildlife viewing. Near Wallowa Lake and Joseph, Oregon. Also near Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.
 
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