Grande Ronde River Wild & Scenic
Minam access to Powatka Bridge
39 river miles – 10 on Wallowa river 29 on Grande Ronde river
Put In at Minam access 30 minutes north of Lagrande along Hwy 82
Gradient – 19 ft/mile
River Flow – 650 to 800 cfs very low but runnable in kayak, IK or raft
– Up to 10,000 cfs in the spring runnable in raft, kayak, IK or Canoe (with skills)
Difficulty –class II at all levels, rocky and slow at low water, rolling waves at high water.
Managing agency – BLM – http://www.blm.gov/or/resources/recreation/site_info.php?siteid=331
Shuttles – Minam Store $100 per car – http://www.minamraftrentals.com/shuttle.html
Group Size – Max 25 people
Port-a-potty, fire pans and invasive species permits & PFD’s required
Guide Books – There is a strip map that the BLM produces. It is available at the Minam Store or at: 541.437.5580 $6.00 – Wallowa-Grande Ronde River Boater Guide.
Description: There are two seasons on the Grande Ronde: Late Spring to Early Summer during the snow melt season or in October at low water for Steelhead fishing. I have personally run the river at 2000 to 4000 cfs in the spring as a family trip with dads, moms and kids. Rafts, kayaks & IK’s are all appropriate. A canoe, in skilled hands, would also be an adventurous way to go down the river. While I have not canoed the Grande Ronde I have heard multiple reports of successful runs, and a couple where folks have had to hike out or make major repairs due to the water being too high, or too low for the paddlers ability. The mild rapids are fun, the camping is excellent and there is generally little competition for nice camping spots. We take three days round trip from Portland and do not feel rushed. It is probably better to drive over the night before and camp at MinamState Park to make the first day a bit more leisurely. Besides the boating and camping there’s good trout fishing, scenic views of ponderosa forests and a chance of seeing deer, elk, osprey, eagles, otters and all the other assorted Oregon river wild life.
The second season on the Grande Ronde, is late September to mid-November; This is steelhead season! Over the past few years there has been increased traffic on the river, but there is still plenty of room for great fishing. In the fall of 2014 we caught rainbow trout, bull trout and steelhead in good enough numbers to keep all our anglers happy. Our trip was at 800 cfs, and we got down the river in 4 days including driving to and from Portland/Seattle. I suggest 5 days if you want more fishing time! Our group usually runs Ik’s, but this time we also took a 14’ self bailing raft which we used as a three person paddle boat. We should have rigged it as an oar boat, as it would have made fishing easier. At this flow, it’s inevitable to get stuck now and then, but there are routes through every rapid and gravel bar.
The Grande Ronde is a highly recommended river at any time. During the long days of spring and summer this is a great place to get away from the crowds, and have a wonderful outdoor river adventure. In the Fall, anglers can have a very nice trip and get to fish fresh water with very little pressure, all while enjoying a wild and scenic river in beautiful Northeast Oregon.