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The Wallowa River is an excellent first rafting or kayaking experience–you might say it is a great way to get your feet wet in the water sport world. Choose a five or ten mile trip and experience a steady flow with little rapids to navigate. Though not as remote as the Wild & Scenic River section of the Wallowa River, as the river hugs the road, it is still a great trip for families or folks just wanting to spend a little time on the river without a multi-day commitment. Don’t let the proximity of the road deter–it is one of Oregon’s Scenic Byways. The scenery is just as gorgeous. Wave at a fellow outdoor enthusiasts traveling down the road, and you just might inspire someone to give the river a try.

  • Distance:

    Within 1.5 Hours

  • Difficulty Level:

    Day Tripper

  • Seasons:

    Spring, Summer, Fall

  • Elevation:

    3,504 feet

  • Pets:

    No

  • Status:

    Open

  • Reservations:

    N/A

  • ADA:

    No

  • Multi-Use:

    N/A

  • Motorized Vehicles :

    N/A

  • Your Public Lands

    Wild & Scenic River, State Scenic Waterways, Oregon State Parks, Umatilla National Forest, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Forest Service

  • What To Do
    • Fishing

      A nationally renowned sport fishery, the Wallowa River enjoys wild and hatchery stock runs of spring Chinook, fall Chinook, summer steelhead and rainbow trout. The Wallowa River is open year-round for trout, which includes brook trout, brown trout, and hatchery rainbow trout. Fishing regulations are highly specific and based on location and species. Please always consult the latest information available from the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife.

    • Kayaking/ Rafting

      This is a lovely section of the Wallowa River for kayakers and rafters alike. Because of the steep gradient of the river, the water flows quite well, keeping boats moving at an enjoyable pace. There are no rapids to speak of on this stretch, perhaps take advantage of that fact and accomplish a little bird watching or fishing. There are two main put in spots: Lower Diamond Lane and Johnson Timber Wayside (Johnson Wayside). The Lower Diamond Lane location is about a ten mile float, while the Johnson Wayside is a roughly five mile float. If you need shuttle service, consider calling the good people of Minam Store.

    • Camping

      Minam State Recreation Area is located on the Wallowa River. If kayaking or rafting, there are several dispersed campsites as you make your way down stream.

  • How To Get There

    Please do not solely rely on Google Maps as their route might not always reflect what is maintained. From Walla Walla, take HWY 11 south through Milton-Freewater, OR. Travel another five miles and turn left on Winn Road. Follow this little backroad for two miles and then turn left to connect with HWY 204. Continue on HWY 204 to the town of Elgin, OR. Once you reach Elgin, take a left on South 8th Avenue and then take right on Albany Street/Wallowa Lake HWY/HWY 82. In approximately 13 miles you will arrive to the Minam Station Day-use Area on your left which is just prior to crossing the bridge over the Wallowa River. The Minam Store is just across the bridge.

  • When To Go

    According to the National Wild & Scenic River Systems website, the river is ready to float from ice breakup in the spring to its freezing up in the fall. That sounds like grounds for a drysuit. Typically, float trips start in May for recreational use and continue through the fall for fishing trips. Each year, each day for that matter, conditions can change drastically based on the season and weather. Always consult the forecast and up-to-date river conditions before shoving out.

  • What To Expect

    Even though this is not a technically challenging section of the river, don’t feel bad about needing a guide--we did. Guides provide invaluable information about the area, how to read the river, and a thing or two about paddling a raft.

  • Fees

    There are no fees to park and launch a personal raft; however, if interested in a guided trip, please reach out directly to the outfitter.

  • Permits

    Valid Oregon fishing license (if fishing). Fishing licenses are available online via the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife or can be purchased at Minam Store. To use the river, a self-issue boating permit is required for every boating party. These permits are free of charge and available at all major access points.

  • Regulations

    Every boating party is required to carry and use a portable toilet suitable for the size of the group. All open fires much be contained in a fire pan, and ash and charcoal must be packed out with other garbage. See the bulletin boards for updated information at all major access points.

  • Amenities

    There is a vault toilet at Minam Station Day-Use Area.

  • Wildlife Awareness

    We are all so fortunate to recreate in the Blue Mountains. So many opportunities exist to play outside whether in a national forest, wilderness area, on a Wild and Scenic River, and more! With these opportunities comes great responsibility to appreciate that we are mere visitors and should all take pride in being good stewards of the wild. Many animals call these protected places home, including moose, elk, bear, cougar, bobcat, and snakes to name a few. Take precautions to respect their home and understand the appropriate response should an encounter occur. Additionally, many plant species thrive in the Blue Mountains, so staying on trail is always good practice. Carry First Aid supplies to better respond to accidents or encounters, and always let others know where the day's adventure is taking you.

  • Field Notes

    Navigation: Consider downloading the Avenza Map app. This app allows users to upload three maps (or unlimited with a subscription) to use offline. It can track your location offline and overlay GPS data from the phone onto the map. The vehicle use maps (for trails allowing motorized vehicles) are the easiest to use. Otherwise, Geo Tracker offers similar tracking capabilities and additional details about your adventure. If no service, Geo Tracker will at least show your location. The Blue Mountains and surrounding area offer a remote recreating experience, and knowing your location is paramount to staying safe. Always make sure to bring paper maps. Tell others where your adventure is taking you and when you expect to return.

    Difficulty Level: Here is what we are thinking when we assign a difficulty level: Day Tripper--You don't have much experience in the area but want to get outside! Great for families of all ages. Adventurer--You know your way around the Blue Mountains and love a leisurely day outdoors. Mountaineer--You are ready for a challenge. Wild places excite you and sweat is the goal. Small children beware. Keep in mind some activities may apply to multiple difficulty levels based on usage.

    Pets: In general, pets are allowed on a leash and under control throughout jurisdictions. The only restrictions we have encountered are around swimming areas. As a best practice, be mindful of riparian habitat in general. You never know where a precious spawning area might be located. Pack it in and pack it out applies to your furry friend as well.

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