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Owyhee River: History (Part 1)


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Owyhee River, has been deemed the “Grand Canyon of Oregon”. This place holds a special place in the hearts of America’s Rafting Company. As born and raised desert dwellers, we spent our youth’s in the great outdoors of Northern Nevada. Both Parker and I were raised in Winnemucca, NV and were often shooed outside by our mother’s, we grew up with wide open spaces and freedom to explore. Perhaps that’s what draws us in to the river canyons of Idaho and Oregon. These places are still free and wild and HUGE! You can travel for miles and miles along the river and not see another soul. That is my kind of adventure. The Owyhee River and it’s canyon lands are no exception to that, in fact, the Owyhee River may be one of the most remote rivers floated to this day. It’s by far the most remote river that America’s Rafting Company floats. The access and boat ramp are in the middle of nowhere and you’d better have 4WD if you want to get out of the river canyon in one peice. The take-out is a dirt road that winds for miles and miles and in the Spring time can be pretty muddy. But, what’s a river trip without some mud on your tires and long twisty roads to get into it?

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The Owyhee River has deep veins of history that are not very well known. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn fact, it was just 5 years ago that the Owyhee River Wilderness was put into place, signed by President Barack Obama on March 30, 2009. Before this bill was signed, the Owyhee River was comprised of private and public land. Now that the land has been signed over and is protected by the Wilderness act of 1964, there are no motorized vehicles allowed in, camping and fishing has to be done with proper permits. There will be no logging, mining or building, no roads constructed and basically no commercial activity. America’s Rafting Company, among a select few other rafting companies are able to take guests into the Owyhee River Wilderness with a special use permit, granted by the BLM. There are over 67 river miles on the Owyhee River that are wild and scenic,
like that of the Snake River through Hells Canyon. The Owyhee River Wilderness is the second largest wilderness area in the country that is not located within a National Park, National Forest or National Wildlife Refuge. The act of putting this land into Wilderness took a ton of cooperation on many agency parts, including the BLM. Many members of the ranching and farming community came together to work with government officials to ensure that the land was taken care of and all parties would benefit from making this land wilderness.

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A Wilderness means more than just heading out into the back country and spending some time in nature. In a Wilderness area, there is no traffic other than that on foot or hoof. Nature is allowed to truly be. There are no roads, no change (other than what Mother Nature intends) there is no place on Earth quite like a Wilderness, getting the chance to see this marvelous landscape is something that not many people get to do, that is why America’s Rafting Company holds this river as a special place in our hearts, it is truly an adventure to float through the wild canyon with it’s rhyolite cliffs, sand castle formations and towering canyon walls, access is limited and peace and serenity come easy. It’s a once in a lifetime kind of trip that we’ve been lucky enough to take many times in our life and hope to take you someday too.

See you on the River…

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