The Grande Ronde is a scenic river with class II and III rapids ideal for rafting and fly fishing. The majority of the 39 mile stretch of river we float on multi-day trips has been designated Wild and Scenic, only accessible by boat. Its clear water flows through steep volcanic canyons composed of horizontal basalt ledges, which alternate with grassy and forested slopes of predominantly Ponderosa Pine and Douglas-fir. Camp along the river among the pines and hike the hillsides for “grande” views of this curvaceous rivers’ wild watershed.
This geologically fascinating river corridor offers a range of habitat to an array of wildlife, including Moose, Bald Eagles, Common Mergansers, Mule Deer, elk, Black Bear, Bighorn Sheep, and a multitude of songbirds. Additionally, the crystal-clear, snow-melt fed waters from the Wallowa and Elk Horn Mountains provide the perfect habitat for Rainbow Trout, Steelhead, and Smallmouth Bass (lower in the watershed). There are many opportunities to wet a line if you so choose on our rafting trips. If you would like a dedicated fly fishing experience, we offer single and multi-day fly fishing trips on this river.
This river’s history of “rafting” extends deep into geologic time, long before humans started roaming the landscape. This region of Northeast Oregon formed as volcanic islands near the present day Aleutian Islands some 300 million years ago and eventually rafted onto North America. These islands (termed “exotic terranes”) formed the first part of Oregon. As time passed and the rest of Oregon was built west, another significant event occurred in this region. Between 17 and 14 million years ago, large cracks in the earth’s surface opened up and lava flowed out in repeated sessions. These flows, known as the Columbia River Basalt Flows, were the largest in volume and extent in the world. The landscape became layered as multiple eruptions would cover the land. The Grande Ronde River corridor is a premier place to view these layers of towering basalt cliffs.