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  1. Kids on the River

    Comments Off on Rafting Trips – the Perfect Mom Vacation

    Why our river trips get the Mom Seal of Approval

    “Rafting with Winding Waters really redefined family vacation for me. . . We don’t need to travel to an exotic location to have a vacation. We need a place where we can be off screens and having fun together”

     – Beth E. (long time guest and mother of two)

    (Blog warning – there’s blatant honesty ahead…)

    What are the factors that go into selecting a family vacation? Fun for everyone typically is #1. Yet often times the ‘fun’ overshadows the ease of the trip and, let’s be honest here, moms are generally left burdening the planning surrounding the ‘fun’. Planning accommodations, finding food that everyone likes, and keeping your kids entertained often make vacations more stressful than relaxing.

    It is typically moms who contact us to discuss booking a trip for their family, hoping they have found THAT trip – a family vacation for them, too. And they are excited to hear that our rafting trip truly ARE a vacation for moms (and dads), too!

    Our trips are great for everyone in the family because they provide space. Space for excitement, relaxation, reconnection, and, most importantly, space for rejuvenation. From food, to safety, to cozy accommodations, we take care of everything so that even the moms can have a vacation. Check out our video below about our family rafting trips.

    Safety

    When considering a whitewater trip for a family vacation, safety is generally the first question we get from moms. We are proud to say that we regularly take kids as young as 5 years old down the river! This accommodation of youngsters on our trips is due to our robust training, protocols, and safety minded-guides. At a minimum, all of our guides are required to be trained in first aid. Many of our guides, including all of our trip leaders, are trained in a 40 hour Wilderness First Responder course and a Swiftwater Rescue course. 

    Before we get on the water, we provide an in-depth safety overview that teaches the principles of whitewater and on-shore safety. While safety is always our top priority, we recognize that the river should be an opportunity for fun and adventure! You can choose to do a rock jump, “ride the bull” (sit on the bow of the raft while going through waves), and even navigate the rapids by yourself in an inflatable kayak. 

    Relaxation

    “The crew was phenomenal – very cognizant of safety but all while ensuring everyone (of any age and any ability) is having fun. They went above and beyond to make this a special trip for the kids – from ducky slides at lunch, to swimming through a rapid, to having mac and cheese available at dinner.” 

    • Kelly P. (Mother of two)

    Every mom knows that the key to relaxation is having happy kids that are having fun. This is easy on the river, where the wide open beaches, fun rapids, and inviting swim water make it a natural playground. And our guides are fantastic kid wranglers. By the end of the day, your kids will have perma-grins and be exhausted from all the fun.

    And the magic of river trips is that they fit almost everyone’s idea of fun. There are rapids for the thrill seekers, long flat-water sections for the wildlife enthusiasts, games for the competitive natured, and relaxing evenings for those wanting to catch up on reading, or simply enjoy the scenery while drinking a beer. 

    We also provide different types of watercraft to fit a variety of comfort levels. For those looking to get active and splashy, we can bring a paddle raft where the passengers paddle with the guide. For those looking for a relaxing ride, we bring several large oar boats where the guide is in complete control. And for those looking for an independent adventure, we bring inflatable kayaks. We do our best to provide the right type of adventure for everyone in your family. 

    Reconnection & Screen Free

    What if I told you that a high caliber, professional, experienced, safety conscious river crew existed in Joseph, Oregon to ensure that, indeed, your biggest task would involve replenishing your soul and reconnecting with yourself and your family while being constantly in awe of your surroundings? Winding Waters River Expeditions surpassed all of our expectations.”

    • Kelly D. (Mother of one)


    At WWRE we operate on “river time” – a slower paced, more present way of living. There is no schedule, no deadlines, and, most importantly, no “to-do” list. This means you can focus on what’s important while we have the details covered. Every evening, you will be greeted by a camp that is already set up with tents, comfortable sleeping pads & cots, and a shady pavilion. For breakfast, lunch, and dinner you will be served home-cooked meals with locally sourced ingredients. Our menu is naturally kid friendly, but if you have a picky eater we always bring back up PB&J and mac’n’cheese. We think of everything, so all you’ll have to worry about is packing your bags. With no to-do list, you will have a lot more time for family and relaxation.

    There are so few places we go anymore where we are not connected to a screen. The river is one of those rare places where youstill can’t find a wifi signal. Some of the most common feedback we get from parents is that they derive so much joy from experiencing family time screen free. Plus, there is so much to do and see on the river that even your kids won’t miss their phones. Outside the bounds of a wifi signal, you will be able to focus on fun, family, and renewing relationships.

    Ready for the family vacation of a lifetime?

    As a family-run company, we know what it takes to provide a great vacation fit for everyone, including the moms. If you are in need of a getaway that will leave you feeling rejuvenated, then check out the variety of trips we offer: Guided Whitewater Rafting Trips

    Have any questions? Feel free to reach out to us directly!

     

  2. Beyond the Packing List

    Comments Off on Going Pee at Night on the River

    WHEN NATURE CALLS…AT NIGHT 

    Picture this, you just had an incredible day of white water rafting! Not only did you: explore a beautiful wild or scenic river, fill your belly with awesome food to the point of bursting, and laugh with other incredible humans—you also mastered the art of how to “make a call” on the river, aka, go to the bathroom in nature. 

    Terminology Backstory: before we dive into some night-time talk, let’s familiarize you with some terms.  

    The Groover: the river name for toilet and is complete with a toilet seat. Saying that you ‘need to use the groover’ or you ‘need to groove’ are other ways to say you ‘need to go to the bathroom.’ 

    Long-Distance Call: refers to going #2 or pooping (we’re all adults here). 

    Local Call: refers to peeing or going #1. Read up on the practice of placing a ‘local call’ while on the river here

    Back to our scene—you had an incredible day on the river and are preparing to tuck yourself in for a little star gazing. You just have one question, how do you make a local call at night? Fortunately for you we are well versed in local calls at any hour and this blog post is here to help!

    Our previous post discussed the importance of making sure local calls end up in the river to keep beaches and campsites clean. The same principle holds true at night. However, if walking to the river or groover isn’t appealing, you can make a local call in your tent. The way to do this is to have a reusable sealable bottle and a funnel if you need one.

    There are many brands and varieties of reusable bottle/funnel combinations with cost ranging between the $8-$15. If you search “unisex urinal” many different options will come up. You will need a reusable option. A couple examples are the AWOKEN unisex potty urinal or the OUTFANDIA Urinal   (pictured right).

    This set up makes it easy to complete your local call from the comfort of your own tent. In the morning when you wake up, simply take your set up down to the river to dump and rinse. Due to the sterile nature of urine, a simple daily rinse will keep it fresh. You can do a more thorough wash with soap at the end of the trip. 

    Tips for local calls at night:

      • -Practice before you come: Get to know your system and become comfortable with it. Consider practicing in the shower or bathtub to make any potential clean up easier. Try different positions: Standing, kneeling, sitting—find what works best for you and your body.
      • -Reusable is key: Please bring a reusable system that can be emptied into the river. Yes, single use urinal bags and bottles exist but they are not a good fit for a river trip; they smell and trash space on our boats is limited. While we understand using them in other settings, please DO NOT bring single use urinal bags or bottles on the river. 
      • -Tent toilet paper: Consider keeping a small amount of toilet paper in your tent as well as a small zip lock to contain any used toilet paper. In the morning it can be put into the groover or the groover trash. You may also consider a reusable wipe like a “Kula Cloth” that can be rinsed and dried out in the morning. 
      • -Containment: Bring a large zip lock to store your bottle and funnel in while not using them. This will also help keep them separated from the rest of your things in your dry bag. 

    ALREADY HAVE A SYSTEM?

    Some of you may already have a system for making a local call at night. If you have a system you are comfortable with and use in camping situations- please do that. Again we ask that you use a system that allows you to ultimately empty local calls into the river. 

    Similarly some of you may already have a funnel or not need one; in this case all you would need is a bottle with a lid. Make sure that you have a bottle with enough capacity, we suggest 1.5 quart minimum. 

    LONG DISTANCE CALLS AT NIGHT

    All long distance calls need to be made in the groover. Although long distance calls at night tend to be rare it does happen. Consider walking to the groover during daylight even if you don’t need to use it so that you know where it is and make sure to bring a headlamp or flashlight (included on our PACKLIST). 

    We hope this post helps you feel more comfortable about your trip with us. When you are on your trip your guides will go over everything regarding grooving and making calls. Until then we will be watching the snow melt and looking forward to spending time on the river together! 

    For more information about our rafting trips, give us a visit at Guided Whitewater Rafting Trips.

  3. How Much Beer?

    Comments Off on Peeing on a River Trip

    LOCAL CALLS – WHAT ARE THEY AND HOW TO MAKE ONE

    If you’re new to a white water rafting trip, you most likely have a number of questions. Inevitably some of them will be about how to go to the bathroom. In a previous post we define a “groover” and discuss pooping (#2) or making a “long distance call.” This post is all about peeing (#1), also known as making a “local call”. 

    We borrowed the phrases “long distance” and “local call” from the Riva Sistas, a group of ladies who have been running rivers together with us for years. Thanks Rivah Sistahs for the catchy phrases!

    Unlike long distance calls which primarily happen in camp, local calls happen throughout the day, both in camp and while on the river. Because of this there are a few more specifics to discuss with regards to the logistics of making a local call. 

    KEEPING OUR CAMPS CLEAN

    Different rules and regulations apply depending on the river when nature calls.  All three of the rivers we offer trips on—the Snake, Salmon and Grande Ronde—follow the same protocol for local calls. All local calls should be made into or immediately next to the river. This may sound counterintuitive at first but there are several reasons for making local calls in the river. 

    VOLUME OF WATER

    Volume of water is important and considered when making a local call. The three rivers we run have enough volume that they dilute any local calls we make while on a trip. However, small side creeks do not have the same amount of flow, and local calls should not be made into or near them. 

    LEAVE NO TRACE

    A cornerstone principle of responsible recreating is “Leave No Trace” (LNT). There are a number of ways we practice LNT techniques while rafting, one being, making local calls into the river. 

    Making a local call into the river helps keep the shore and campsites clean both for ourselves as well as future visitors. This works several ways. First it keeps beaches and campsites from smelling like a bathroom. Secondly, this diminishes the attraction of animals and insects to the salty spots left behind by peeing onshore.

    HOW TO DIAL

    We will stop and take breaks throughout the day to snack, play, or explore. These breaks are good opportunities for local calls. Most often the weather on our trips is quite warm and many people enjoy the opportunity to jump in while floating, too, and cool off while making a local call.  

    In camp there will be a private bathroom, referred to as the groover . At the groover site, we’ll have a hot pink colored groover box specifically for going pee in camp. 

    Watch for our upcoming post about LOCAL CALLS AT NIGHT. We will link to it once it is uploaded.

    Thank you for recognizing the importance of keeping beaches and campsites clean. We look forward to spending time with you on “the river.”

    READY FOR THE ADVENTURE OF A LIFETIME?

    At Winding Waters River Expeditions, we offer a number of trips on three of the Pacific Northwest’s premier rivers: the Snake, Salmon, and Grande Ronde rivers. These rivers are all wild and scenic rivers, and give you the feeling as if you and your expedition group are the only ones in the world.

    Trips are all inclusive and include:

    • • Gourmet meals
    • • All necessary camping and fishing/rafting gear
    • • Transportation to and from the river
    • • Full service guides with decades of experience in the very river where your expedition is taking place

    Questions about making calls or anything else with our expeditions? Let us know! We’re happy to answer any questions you have or explain what you should expect when on one of our expeditions.

  4. Top 10 Bonuses About a River Trip

    Comments Off on Joy in the Time of COVID

    Why a river rafting trip became the perfect vacation for 2020

    It is no secret that 2020 was a hard year. Because of the pandemic, our lives were dramatically altered. Almost every part of  life, from going to the grocery store to seeing loved ones, became a stressful event. Over time, the constant routine of waking up to a depressing news cycle, and going to bed not knowing what else would go wrong the next day became exhausting. It is safe to say that we all got to a breaking point this year, and craved an escape from the chaos of the world around us. Despite the challenges we faced this year, we were lucky enough to continue providing river trips, and they became the perfect escape that many folks needed in the era of COVID. 

    With overseas travel nearly impossible, outdoor vacations close to home were popular this year. River rafting trips ended up being the perfect solution for adventurous people looking for an outdoor domestic vacation. The remote canyons, warm weather, and gorgeous beaches provide a change of scenery that makes you forget that you are in the reaches of the Pacific Northwest. Plus, the lively rapids and magnificent wildlife satisfies the cravings of adventure-seekers looking for excitement. Although COVID demanded a change of travel plans, many families found a silver lining by discovering the joys of the river in their own backyard. 

    One of the greatest gifts that the river bestowed this year was the ability to completely disconnect from technology. With work and school going online, the amount of time we spent in front of screens increased dramatically. Thankfully, there is no cell service on the river. The sounds of notification bells are replaced by running water. Screens are replaced by tremendous canyon walls, and text messages are replaced by quality time with loved ones. The river provides a feeling of simplicity and ease that you cannot get elsewhere. When you wake up on the river you won’t be bombarded by emails and news headlines, instead you will be delighted watching the sun rise over the canyon walls, sipping fresh coffee, and listening to the sounds of water passing by. These simple moments were especially important this year to help us rest, recharge, and reconnect with the world around us. 

    Relative to the rest of the world, the river provided a safe environment where our guests could let their guard down. River canyons supply a natural breeze that ensures we are always breathing fresh air, and being in the outdoors is undoubtedly good for our wellbeing. However, we still modified many of our protocols to keep our guests and guides healthy. In order to reduce the risk of virus transmission we kept trips smaller, on average around 12-15 people. We also changed some of our food safety protocols, requiring guides to wear masks and gloves while preparing food. We provided the option for separate parties to remain 6ft apart by spacing out during meal times and remaining on different boats. We even rearranged the spacing on our boats so that the guides were 6ft apart from our guests while rowing. 

    Some of the changes we made actually ended up being popular among the guests and our crew. To decrease the number of high-touch surfaces, our guides plated food for the guests rather than everyone serving themselves. This change made meal times feel more like a fine-dining restaurant than a potluck. Another popular improvement was color-coded bags, which made it easier for guests to find their belongings. With a little bit of innovation and out-of-the box thinking we managed to have a COVID-free river season while still providing a fun and relaxing experience on the river. 

    We were honored to bring some joy and relaxation to our guests in a year where it was hard to find either. We are so thankful for the support of our amazing guests. Because of them, we were able to remain open and provide the rest and rejuvenation that we all needed this year. We are looking forward to what 2021 will bring. COVID or not, we will still be here, ready to make some more memories on the river with you all.

     

  5. The Future of Our Rivers

    Comments Off on White Water River Spotlight: The Grande Ronde River

    Looking for a whitewater rafting adventure that is rich in history, wildlife, and beautiful scenery? Allow us to introduce you to the Grande Ronde River! Cut into deep basalt canyons and boasting stunningly varied landscapes, the Grande Ronde River is one of the most beautiful and unique adventures you can take in Oregon.   

    Read on to learn more about its incredible landscape and history, plus what to expect from rafting the Grande Ronde River. 

     

    Natural & Cultural History

    The Grande Ronde River is a naturalists’ paradise in the lower reaches as it flows through towering basalt cliffs and beautiful Ponderosa Pine forests. These steep cliffs are made up of Columbia River Basalt which is the worlds’ largest basalt flow both in extent and volume. Lava oozed from a series of feeder dikes called the Chief Joseph Dike Swarm starting approximately 16 million years ago. When floating the Grande Ronde, one can see the horizontal layers of the basalt flows are interspersed with vertical feeder dike columns. Interestingly, in more recent history, civil engineers building bridges across this river used these feeder dikes as foundations for bridge abutments because of their strength.

    Native Americans tribes, like the Wallowa Band of the Nez Perce, spent winters in the lower reaches of the Grande Ronde canyon. Legend has it that the young Chief Joseph was born in a cave near the confluence of the Grande Ronde and Snake Rivers. The native americans in this region practiced vertical migration during the course of a year. In the fall, the tribes would travel down into the canyons for the winter where temperatures were predictably warmer. In the spring, the tribes would travel up out of the canyons into the Wallowa and Blue Mountains country where they could hunt and gather for food.

    In more recent homesteader history, the Grande Ronde played a central role in logging and ranching. Irrigation water is pulled annually from the river to provide a range of crops in the region. The river was also used to move logs downriver to now defunct mills. In the early 20th century, Minam was a mill town.

     

    The Course of the Grande Ronde River

    The Grande Ronde River headwaters in the Blue and Wallowa Mountains and runs through northeastern Oregon and southeastern Washington. It is a tributary of the Snake River. The full length of the river runs 182 miles and ends where it meets up with the Snake River in Rogersburg, Washington, just five miles north of the Oregon border. 

    In the lower reaches below Minam, this river corridor is managed by both the Bureau of Land Management and the United States Forest Service. In 1988, 43.8 miles of the Grande Ronde were recognized for its remote wilderness, roadless sections, and the subsequent intrinsic value to wildlife and recreation and were added for conservation purposes to the National Wild and Scenic River System. 

     

    White water rafting the Grande Ronde River

    Grande Ronde Rapids

    While the entire river is a great adventure, here at Winding River Expeditions, we raft the wild and scenic section of the Grande Ronde River. This 46 mile trip provides some easy, class II & III white water rapids, making it a perfect fun-filled 3-day adventure for the family. 

     

    On this 3-day expedition on the Grande Ronde River, you can expect:

     

    Breathtaking scenery

    We might be biased, but we think the Grande Ronde River is one of the great hidden gems of Oregon. Because much of the Grande Ronde River is only accessible via the river, the views remain largely untouched. The landscape spans from heavily forested ponderosa pine and steep basalt canyons to sparsely forested open fields and wildflowers. The river itself is largely mellow, making it easy to soak in the sun, views, wildlife, and spend time exploring land that few people get to see. 

     

    Abundant wildlife

    Because the landscape is so diverse, the Grande Ronde River boasts a wide array of different wildlife. Look forward to opportunities to view deer grazing alongside the river bank, bald eagles soaring through the air, river otters splashing around in the water, or mountain goats making bold jumps off their rocks. Plus, you might also catch a glimpse of herons, bighorn sheep, and even black bears and cougars (all from the safety of your raft!) 

     

    Great fishing

    The Grande Ronde River is known for offering some of the very best fishing and fly fishing in the Pacific Northwest. It is a great fishery for rainbow trout, and in the fall and winter, a superb place to catch steelhead. 

    Interested in fishing on your expedition? Don’t forget your fishing license! You can purchase one at our Boathouse Shop before launch. 

     

    An all-inclusive experience

    Our expert guides will handle all of the details for you! On this expedition, we’ll provide:  

    • • Round trip ground transportation originating in Joseph, OR
    • • Professional river guides with years of white water rafting experience under their belts 
    • • The option to float in guided oar rafts, paddle rafts, inflatable kayaks, or stand up paddle boards during some sections of the trip 
    • • A campsite that will be set up and taken down for you each day 
    • • All meals for the entirety of the trip. These are locally sourced gourmet meals that can accommodate most dietary needs 
    • • All necessary rafting equipment and camping gear you will need for a comfortable trip, including tents and sleeping pads
    • • All permits needed to float the river 

    Not sure what personal items to bring? Check out our recommended packing list here

     

    Book your adventure today!

    Are you ready for a fun-filled adventure on the Grande Ronde River? We’re now accepting reservations! 

    Reserve your spot now by contacting us online or by calling us at (541) 432-0747. Or, learn more about our other whitewater expeditions here

  6. What We Use: An Overview of Whitewater Rafting Gear

    Comments Off on All About Rafting the Snake River

    At Winding Waters River Expeditions, we love all the rivers we raft here in the land of the winding waters. However, the Snake River holds an extra special place in our hearts. 

    The primary tributary of the vital and powerful Columbia River, the “Snake” holds a wealth of recreational opportunity, particularly through Hells Canyon, North America’s deepest gorge.

    Read on to learn about rafting and recreating on this majestic river.

     

    Where is the Snake River?

    The Snake River runs through the states of Wyoming, Oregon, Idaho, and Washington, and is the largest tributary to the mighty Columbia River. The river meanders along the border of Idaho and Eastern Oregon for much of its track.

    The first big population center downriver from the headwaters is the scenic Wyoming city of Jackson. Other cities along the path of the river include Idaho Falls, ID; Twin Falls, ID; Lewiston, ID; and the city of the mouth, Pasco, WA.

     

    What is the course of the river?

    The Snake River is one of the most scenic and wild places that exists in the United States. 

    The headwaters of the river are in Yellowstone National Park, and the first 50 miles of the river flows through Jackson Hole, a valley between the Teton Range and Gros Ventre Range in Wyoming. From here, the river passes through the Snake River Canyon and the Snake Range. There are some major waterfalls in this area, including Shoshone Falls, the historical limit of migrating Salmon on the Snake River. This waterfall is higher than Niagara Falls and truly a sight to see! 

    After this, the Snake gains steam as it collects water from several major tributaries and begins to form the border of Idaho and Oregon. North of Boise, ID, the Snake enters Hells Canyon, which is formed between the peaks on both sides (more on the incredible canyon below). Halfway through the canyon, the river reaches an incredibly remote stretch of river that’s inaccessible by vehicle.

    A little after halfway through Hells Canyon, the river begins to form the Washington and Idaho border. After leaving the canyon, the river flows through the Palouse Hills of Eastern Washington, before losing much of its liveliness in a series of dams in the lower river. It then enters the Columbia River, from there flowing together 325 miles to Astoria, OR and the Pacific Ocean. 

     

    Hells Canyon

    As mentioned above, one of the most remote and impressive parts of the Snake River is Hells Canyon, a 10-mile wide river canyon that is the deepest river gorge in North America. The gorge runs for 125 miles. For 40 miles, the gorge sits at more than a mile deep! 

    The gorge itself is located along the Idaho and Oregon border for most of its journey and sits along Idaho and Washington for the remainder. Most of the canyon is completely inaccessible with your vehicle, and can only be accessed through rafting, horseback riding, and backpacking.

    At Winding Waters Rivers Expeditions, this remote section is the part of the gorge we raft. Depending on your trip, your float will travel 79 miles through class III-IV rapids through the heart of the canyon.

    Throughout your trip, you’ll find:

    • • Abundant wildlife , wildflowers, and other flora & fauna 
    • • Artifacts from prehistoric tribes 
    • • Relics of early miners and settlers

     

    Rafting the Snake River

    White water rafting on the Snake River is a truly epic experience. For those who have not experienced the high desert landscape, there is nothing quite like it. Whether it’s the dry, pristine desert air, bright stars, or rushing cold water underneath you as you bask in the sun, it’s unlike anything else in the world. 

    While there are desirable floats upriver, the best rafting (we wholeheartedly believe, especially for whitewater) on the Snake is through Hells Canyon.

    Part of the wonder of rafting is getting away from it all and experiencing the awe of nature. Hells Canyon provides just this opportunity. Unlike many other popular rafting trips that take you through remote wilderness areas, this trip can be completed in under a week. Compare that to the Grand Canyon, which lasts up to 3 weeks!

     

    Other activities on the Snake River

    In addition to the stunning white water rafting, the Snake River is known as a world-class Rainbow Trout and Smallmouth Bass fishery. While wild Steelhead still stalk these waters and offer productive fishing in many tributaries, dams have depleted numbers and made the Snake more of a Rainbow Trout and Smallmouth Bass fishery through Hells Canyon. 

    With Winding Waters River Expeditions, we bring fishing tackle so you can experience this fishery while rafting the beautiful water.

    Additionally, there is bountiful hiking and swimming throughout the course of the river, and you’ll have opportunities to enjoy both when rafting with us. 

     

    What gear do you need for a Snake River white water rafting trip?

    Rafting this powerful river is not something that should be taken lightly and should only be undertaken by VERY experienced private rafters or under the guidance of an experienced outfitter and guide. 

    At Winding Waters River Expeditions, we provide everything you need for a fun, safe, and fulfilling experience out on the water. This includes:

    • • Transportation to and from the river (on most of our launches except our 3 day trip)
    • • All the rafting and camping gear you need for a safe and comfortable experience
    • • campsites set up for you every night 
    • • All-inclusive gourmet meals for the entirety of your trip
    • • Professional white water rafting guides with decades of white water rafting experience
    • • All necessary permits and legal requirements to float the river

     

    Are you ready for the trip of a lifetime?

    We’re currently accepting reservations for all of our white water rafting trips. Spots are limited and sell out fast every year. 

    To reserve your spot, contact us online or learn more about our Snake River trips.

  7. Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Winding Waters River Expeditions

    Comments Off on 6 Under the Radar Adventure Destinations in The United States

    Does urbanization have you down? Sick of the modern world and looking for an escape to get away? Well drop that phone and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!

    North America still has some of the most well preserved, wild places left in the world. We’ve detailed some of our favorite adventure destinations below to get you started on where to travel.

     

    The Upper Columbia River Watershed near Joseph

    Adventure Basecamp: Joseph, OR
    Top Activities: White water rafting, steelhead fly fishing, hiking

    For the river rats, there may not be a more legendary place in the USA than the Columbia River watershed. This is particularly true in the cold water canyons and high desert landscape of the Snake, Salmon, and Grande Ronde rivers.

    The Columbia River drains a massive area a far north as Alberta and British Columbia and as far south as Nevada. The area around Joseph, OR, including the Snake, Salmon, and Grande Ronde rivers, is a major artery in the vast network of tributaries that make up the Columbia River basin.

    These rivers are legendary for their white water opportunities. As these rivers wind through epic, prehistoric canyons and vistas you’re treated to exhilarating white water rapids. These waters are good for all abilities and ages, making this a great adventure destination to experience the best Northern America has to offer for white water rafting.

    This area, particularly the Grande Ronde, offers some of the best fly fishing for summer run steelhead in the world. Unlike the winter run steelhead west of the Cascade Mountains, these high desert rivers of the Columbia offer the excitement of catching a fish from the ocean in a beautiful mountain range hundreds of miles from the sea!

    Add in the nearby Wallowa mountains and the backpacking opportunities they afford, Joseph, OR is a world class adventure destination.

     

    Arches and Canyonland National Parks

    Adventure Basecamp: Moab, UT
    Top Activities: Hiking, canyoneering, mountain biking, rafting

    The Moab, UT area of Eastern Utah houses 2 of the most breathtaking national parks in North America: Arches and Canyonland National Parks. These parks are known for their high desert environment and absolutely stunning geographic features. Said by some to look like Mars, Moab’s iconic red rock landscape should be on everyone’s bucket list.

    Canyonland is Utah’s largest national park and features deep red canyons carved out by the mighty colorado river over millennia. The most popular area is Island in the Sky, a 1500 foot mesa that affords many epic views. There are also hundreds of miles of hiking trails throughout the sea of canyons to experience the wilderness backcountry. Just be careful, the vast network of canyons are easy to get lost in! This adventure destination is not for the faint of heart!

    Arches National Park is known for its standalone sandstone formations. The area is a beautiful place to drive through and take in the wonder of the geology. Some standout formations include:

    • Balanced rock
    • The windows
    • Double arch
    • Tunnel arch

     

    The Olympic Peninsula

    Adventure Basecamp: Port Angeles, WA
    Top Activities: Hiking, surfing, steelhead fly fishing

    Though most known for Olympic National Park, The “Peninsula” as Pacific Northwesterners call it, is a land of natural wonders and iconic mysticism.

    Centered around the Olympic mountain range, the state’s 2nd-highest range, the peninsula is home to a legendary group of temperate rainforests. With such a large mountain range next to the open seas of the Pacific Ocean, the area does receive a lot of rain every year. In turn, this also creates some of the region’s premier winter steelhead fishing opportunities.

    The hiking, particularly in the Hurricane Ridge section of Olympic National Park, offers incredible views of the range. The area’s many beaches, including Shi Shi Beach and Third Beach, offer beach camping and surfing opportunities without the crowds.

    There really is nowhere like the Olympic Peninsula in the United States.

     

    The Florida Everglades

    Adventure Basecamp: Everglades City, FL
    Top Activities: Birding, paddling, fishing, hiking

    Though Florida is not often thought of as an adventure mecca, the Everglades are solidly one of the most unique natural areas in North America. The diversity of wildlife, flora, and fauna make this large wilderness area (Everglades National Park is the 3rd largest National Park in the United States) one of the most wild places in the country and a top adventure destination.

    While the alligators and crocodiles may scare some people off, the area boasts some of the best paddling around. One of our favorite multi-day trips in the country is a multi-day paddle through the Everglades backcountry!

    Other popular activities include bird watching over 360 different types of birds native to the area, fishing the emerald waters, and hiking through trails to experience the lush wilderness of the Florida Everglades.

     

    Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

    Adventure Basecamp: Duluth, MN
    Top Activities: Paddling, fishing, hiking

    One of the most treasured areas of the country, and one of the least known pristine natural areas, is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness area in Minnesota. This area butts up against Lake Superior and is very close to the Canadian border.

    This over 1 million acre wilderness area was formed by glaciers, leaving a massive network of interconnected lakes and streams. The entire area is connected through both streams and portages, which are trails cleared for you to carry your canoe or kayak to another lake.

    This is one of the last areas of the country, particularly in the midwest, that is as remote as it is. You can truly take off at a canoe launch and not see another soul except the many deer, moose, beaver, bears, timberwolves, and loons until you return to the boat launch upon your return.

     

    Northwestern Montana

    Adventure Basecamp: Whitefish, MT
    Top Activities: Skiing, trout fishing, hiking, paddling

    Centered around the city of Whitefish and Glacier National Park, Northwestern Montana has truly turned into a mecca of the outdoor world.

    This year-round adventure zone is known for Glacier National Park above all else. This park, bordering on Canada, is known for its glacially carved mountains, mountain lakes, and unique wildlife, including wolves and mountain goats. It is one of the best places in the United States to backpack.

    Other notable areas include Whitefish Mountain Resort, which offers some of the best skiing in the state and a top winter adventure destination. Flathead Lake and the many rivers in the area offer incredible fishing, rafting, and water sport opportunities.

     

    Experience the best of the American natural landscape with Winding Waters River Expeditions

    There is no better place to enjoy the high-desert landscape mixed with the fresh, clean, cool water of the Pacific Northwest than by embarking on a fishing or white water rafting trip down the Snake, Salmon, and Grande Ronde rivers.

    At Winding Waters River Expeditions, we offer a range of trips for all ages, experience levels, and trip lengths. Everyone should be able to enjoy these pristine rivers, and we have developed trips that make this possible.

    Contact us to learn more or take a look at our many Oregon rafting or fishing trips on the historic Snake River.

  8. What to Pack in Your Day Bag

    Comments Off on I Have a Medical Condition. Can I Still Go Rafting?

    We try our best to accommodate all of our guests’ needs on multi-day river trips. If you have a medical condition you are concerned will prevent you from enjoying an overnight trip, we may be able to help in most cases.

    We always encourage our guests with specific needs to contact us before booking a trip. This helps to ensure a safe and fun experience. WWRE does not ask for your medical history in order to join us on a multiday trip. However, there are certain conditions that are imperative for us to know before launching. If you have a condition that will prevent you from swimming or could put you at risk by not having immediate medical care access, it is in your best interest to notify us before we leave the boat ramp. The following are common issues we encounter and take pride in providing solutions for.

    Joint Mobility

    Cot for mobility

    Stiff joints can affect us all. Sleeping on the ground can be uncomfortable for those who have had hip or knee replacements, back injuries or other joint problems. We gladly provide cots to any of our guests who request them. The elevated cots make it easier to get up in the morning, quite literally. Rather than having to get yourself off the ground, the cots allow you to roll over and sit up upright.

    One of the joys of a fully guided trip is your tent and cot are set up and ready for you by the time you arrive at camp. There is no need to learn how to set up and take down the cots. We’ve got you covered.

    medical kitMedications

    If you require daily medications, pack them along with your personal toiletries and other items in your dry bag. If your medication requires refrigeration such as insulin, our guides will reserve a spot in one of our coolers for such items. Please let them know if you will need access to it while on the river so the guides can plan accordingly.

    If you have medications you will need during the day such as heart medication or an asthma inhaler, keep it handy in your day bag. We provide day bags for you the night before at our informational meeting. Keep your medication alongside your sunscreen, chapstick, and camera for easy access. We don’t recommend keeping it in your pocket unless it is in a waterproof container and your pocket has zippers. We do carry a full first aid kit on each boat for emergencies.

    Food and Environmental Allergiesfood spread

    Gluten-free? Keto? Nut-free? Vegan? Our food guru and chef, Hilary, is able to provide options for most food allergies and diets. One thing we love just as much as running rapids is providing delicious, locally sourced meals for our guests. Let us know how we can be sure to align with your dietary needs.

    If you have allergies to bees, hornets, yellow jackets or any other stinging insect and carry your own epi-pen, keep it in your personal day bag while on the water. You are much more likely to encounter them while at camp than on the water. It is wise to keep it available and near you at all times. We are prepared with epinephrine in each boat’s first aid kits. However, if you are known to have an anaphylactic response to stings, it is best to carry and provide your own medications.

    If you have a medical condition, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t join the trip. In the event of a medical emergency, we have a satellite phone to contact emergency personnel. Rest assured we have your best interests in mind. Our well-trained staff will ensure your safety every step of the way.

    If you have any questions pertaining to medical conditions, please contact us directly. It is unlikely you are going to surprise us, so no need to feel embarrassed. It is our pleasure to craft a rafting trip that is fit for you. Keeping us informed enables us to do that to the best of our abilities.

  9. Learning to Kayak on the Salmon River with Will Howerton

    Comments Off on What it Takes to Be a River Guide: An Interview with Trip Leader Robin Pace

    Robin-rowing

    Have you ever thought about becoming a river guide but weren’t sure how to make it happen? Being a river guide is an exciting job that requires a certain mindset and technical training. To learn more about what it takes to be a river guide, we interviewed Robin Pace, one of our trip leaders, to learn more about how she came to be an experienced river guide on the Snake, Salmon and Grande Ronde rivers.

    How long have you worked for WWRE as a guide?
    It has been 6 years and I am coming into my seventh season. I started out as a swamper on the gear boat, helping to set up camp before guests would arrive that afternoon and moving gear.

    How did you get into it? Why?
    It was kind of like a post-college, quarter-life crisis. I didn’t want to go to grad school and I didn’t want to get a “real” job. I had come to visit a friend in Imnaha and she was reflecting on regretting never becoming a raft guide. It ignited a fire inside me. She literally dropped me off at the boathouse doorsteps to drop off my application. Every single person I talked to about it advocated for me to do it.

    What was the interview process like?
    I remember one of the questions on the application was “how do you feel about cell phones?” In my mind, I was like “it would be great to not need to look at one all the time anymore.” I went through a formal interview with Paul that was like any other job interview. He asked me about my background, personal strengths and weaknesses, and why I wanted to be a river guide.

    What kind of training or certifications do you have?
    First aid/CPR is the only training that is required to be a guide. Since my very first year as a guide I have had my wilderness first responder certification and I currently hold an outdoor emergency care certification. Both certifications are focused on advanced wilderness medicine and care. Many guides take swift water rescue courses but I took a 9-day river guide training program at Boise State University instead. It was catered to outdoor trip leaders that took students out but was also open to the community. I really wanted this job so I applied and took the course with my brother while I was still waiting to hear if I was going to be hired on or not.

    The training was on the main of the Payette in May during spring runoff. It started the day after I graduated from BSU. I walked in the graduation ceremony and then jumped in a van in a wet suit heading to the river. I was the only person in the course that had actually planned on joining a rafting company however, my brother became a guide several years later. They made us jump into whitewater rapids and swim them. They also had us purposefully flip our boats in the river and then practice flipping them back over, as well as pulling people back into the boat.

    What was your river experience before becoming a guide?
    I had gone on a couple of 3-day trips on the Grande Ronde as a teenager, as well as a trip on the Deschutes with my dad and some friends at age 10. One time my cousin left me in a boat on a stretch of flat, but rocky, water on the Grande Ronde to go jumping on a duckie. I had no choice but to oar the boat. It made me vow to never do it again after hitting every rock in sight. It was a very humbling experience.

    What potential dangers are there?
    It’s so broad, so many potential causes of why things happen the way they do. Truthfully, it is mostly trying to manage what you can and trying to handle it as it comes. Usually, it’s helping guests with sunburns and hangovers. I’ve had people cut their feet open on rocks on rare occasions but watching out for dehydration in kids is a big one.

    What kind of physical training do you do?
    I found that working as a cook in the offseason worked really well — it really works your forearms. Also, nannying because throwing kids in the air is also a good workout. I know I need to do more push-ups because of the snowpack this year. In reality, the only true way to get in shape is by rowing. There is no way to prepare your hands for the first day back at the oars. I am fully prepared to have blisters on my hands after the first trip of the season because of the amount of snow we have seen this year.

    How do you stay calm?
    I try to be very active in talking about potential situations beforehand. Guests have always come back and said they were thankful for knowing what to do when they find themselves in the water. They simply just followed the instructions I had given before we got on the boats — it’s like explaining a fire drill. If something does happen, you can’t really be scared until it’s over. You’re in the flow state in the middle of all the action. It is likely the situations I describe won’t happen but you automatically just do what exists in your head. That’s why we have safety talks.

    What do you know now that you wish you knew your first season?
    Don’t stress about what is going to happen. It likely won’t happen or it won’t happen the way you expect it to. It’s usually little things that feel a disaster, like suddenly realizing that we forgot the toothpicks.t-up

    What is in your own personal dry bag?
    I literally bring everything. Zinc sunscreen is a must. A big sun hat for myself and multiple hats for others because I might have made them swim and lose theirs — somebody always loses a hat. I always bring a flat sheet to sleep on and a river dress — they are so nice when you get to camp. Extra shoes, and by shoes I usually mean sandals.

    What is the best advice you have received?
    Double check the hose is attached before cleaning out the groover.

    What advice would you give a first-time river guide?
    Don’t take things too seriously. Don’t try to get it all right.

    Get groovy with the groover.

    Also, awareness is key. If you are being aware, you will know how you plug in best with guests, other guides and your environment. It allows you to see animals as well as not burn the brownies. Watching how other guides do things and how other people row helps you to understand how to do it too.

    So, what do you think it takes to be a good river guide?
    You basically just have to not mind getting dirty and enjoy living outside under the stars. The ability to cook in a Dutch oven is essential and you must be a storyteller — both for the guests’ benefit, as well as your own passing of time.

  10. Why a Multi-day Whitewater River Trip is a Chance to Connect

    Comments Off on The Brain and Nature

    At Winding Waters River Expeditions, we see it every summer. Our pre-trip meetings are filled with guests excited about the adventure to come, but uneasy about leaving behind devices and “connection”. Yet once the group embarks into the wilderness, it takes a little time, but the feeling of “being in the moment” takes over. On the first day, the “ghost limb” sensation of reaching for the vibrating phone in a pocket or the need to check email slowly fades. The awe of the river and the beautiful landscape takes over. The quiet soothes the mind, the soul, and calms us down. Then laughter, fun, and conversation with family and friends build the new connection- to place, people, and the experience.

    And the thing is, this rejuvenation of the mind is not just something we see and feel, it’s a real thing. Now more than ever, researchers are finding that we need “time out” from our devices and our multi-tasking culture to refuel our minds. Throughout history, great thinkers have taken to the outdoors to refresh their minds and nurture their creative spirits. Today, the pull of technology on our attention is taking a toll on our pre-frontal cortex, the part of the brain handles our emotions, problem solving, and critical thinking, among other things. The repeated brain-drain takes a toll on us – from affecting our emotions, to reduced motivation and distraction.

    So what is the answer to “recharging” our minds? It exists just outside. Research shows that activity in the pre-frontal cortex slows down when people are exposed to a natural environment. And we feel the effects ourselves as guides here at WWRE – once we reach the river and push off from the boat launch, there are no more distractions but the task at hand. And we see it with our guests over and over. Relaxation takes over and the trip ends in testimonials like these:

    “A Winding Waters River Expeditions “glamping” get-away is the perfect antidote for stifling summer traffic jams and the daily grind.”

    “–The scenery: Un-freaking-believable. Just go see it, my description will not do it justice.
    –The wildlife: cougar, big horn sheep, deer, turkeys, eagles, just to name a few.”

    “Our trip was a four day, three night adventure on the Salmon River. Very quiet, peaceful, and no crowds. There were several options available from a SUP, kayaks, paddle rafts to large rafts where one just embraces all the beauty.”

    “This was one of the best vacations I have had in a long time. The crew served as our guides, our chefs, our hosts and our constant inspiration. The whole time I was on the river I was completely in the moment, forgetting any worries of the past or future.”

    And with so many of our country’s wild places under fire, it’s more important than ever to get out and enjoy their beauty. The more we know and love them, the more we’ll strive to protect them for future generations.

    Come experience some of our nation’s most wild places yourself on one of our many whitewater rafting adventures.

  11. Happy 50th Anniversary Wild & Scenic Rivers Act!

    Comments Off on 8 Tips to Improve Your Fly Casting

    After learning how to first cast a fly rod, many anglers don’t think much about the fundamentals of their cast. But just because you know how to cast, you shouldn’t stop thinking about your form.

    Even seasoned fisherman should be looking at ways to improve their cast!

    In this month’s post, we’ll give some tips on how to improve your fly cast. We’ll also go over some fly casting basics to refresh your memory.

     

    Fly Casting Basics

    Fly casting can be an intricate process with a lot of moving pieces.

    Below, we’ve outlined some key concepts and terms to know before heading into our tips for better fly casting.

    • When casting a fly rod, you’re casting the line as opposed to the lure with traditional fishing rods.
    • Casting is comprised of “forward casts” and “backwards casts”.
    • While casting, you will bend or “load” the rod during the backwards cast. This will push the line out further during your forwards cast, repeating the process to move your line out further and further.
    • The rod-tip path your rod travels over the course of the cast will determine the “loop,” or motion, your fly line makes.
    • The “casting stroke” refers to the motion your rod makes in order to create the loop.
    • A 10-2 “casting arc,” or angle change of the fly rod, is generally considered best practice. This means if your rod were the hands of a clock, they would go between 2 o’clock for the end of your back cast, and 10 o’clock for your forward cast.

     

    8 Ways to Improve Your Fly Casting

    There are no shortcuts to improving your fly casting. At it’s core, improving your cast is centered around getting back to the fundamentals and ensuring you’re not sloppy with your cast (something we are all guilty of at one point or another).

    Below, we’ve outlined some ways to ensure your cast stays strong and you don’t lose site of your casting fundamentals.

    Understand The Function of the Rod

    Remember, your rod is there to do the work.

    As noted above, fly rods work differently than traditional fishing poles, which leverage the weight of the lure or bait to cast. Conversely, fly rods leverage the weight of the fly line to cast. Since flies generally weigh almost nothing, the weighted lines used in fly fishing gear is needed to place your fly.

    Since the line is so central in the function of the rod, you need to make sure you’re casting correctly for you to both cast the distance necessary and be accurate with your fly placement.

    For instance, if you’re trying to start your forward cast before your back cast has been completed, the line will not be cast forward correctly (more on this shortly). This leads to an inefficient cast, and one where you are not fully utilizing the energy created by your rod.

    Slow Down

    When you are frustrated or stressed, it’s common to speed up whatever you are doing. For instance, it’s common to speak quickly when nervous. Fly casting is no different.

    We see this issue with anglers of all skill levels. Generally, it is when an angler is frustrated or in a challenging situation that the issue presents itself.

    Not surprisingly, when you move quickly you become less focused on technique. This will decrease the efficiency and effectiveness of your cast, leading to inaccurate and short casts.

    If you notice yourself speeding up, breath and try focusing on what you know about fly casting. Then, take out 15 feet of line and cast it over and over again, not letting any new line out. This will get you focused on the fundamentals of your cast, and help you get back on track to good form.

    Look Back

    One common area fishermen struggle with is their back cast.

    Since it is not the part of the cast you can see or the one that delivers the fly, it generally takes a back seat to the forward cast in the mind of anglers. This is the wrong way to look at it. Your back cast is just as (if not more) important as it sets up and powers the forward cast.

    Unless your back cast is fundamentally strong, you will not place your fly where it needs to go.

    Next time you are on the river or practicing your cast, take a look back to make sure the line is unraveling completely before starting your forward cast. It’s important when looking back to make sure to only move your head and not the rest of your body. Moving your body will distort your cast by changing your stroke. Not only will this destroy your cast, but it will not allow you to properly evaluate your back cast.

    Practice, Practice, Practice

    Fly fishing is just like any other skilled sport – it takes time, dedication, and commitment in order to become great. Practicing frequently will help you reach any goals you set for yourself.

    Once a day (or as often as you can) spend 15 minutes out in the yard practicing your casting. Not only will this give you repetitions, helping you perfect your stroke, but it will help your body develop muscle memory for your cast.

     

    Want More Tips on How to Improve Your Fly Cast?

    Talk to one of our guides! Contact us online or give us a call at (541) 432-0747. We’d be happy to help you plan a guided fishing trip, or even just talk about your cast.

    Film Yourself Casting

    Seeing yourself in action will help you understand any flaws in your cast.

    To start, set up a video camera (or your smartphone) on a tripod in your backyard or other open area. Then, take some casts with differing lengths of fly line. You can also try with differing weights or flies to see how that affects your casting.

    Once you have taken some video, attach the feed to a larger screen and watch. Take note of what you are doing right and wrong. You can then make adjustments to your cast based on what you see.

    Over time this will help you perfect your cast and track your progress.

    Fish More

    The only way to catch more fish is by getting out on the river and fishing more. While practicing in an open area will help train your muscle memory and perfect your cast, nothing will compare to getting out onto the river and casting for real.

    Unlike in your backyard, fishing out on the river will present you with the reality of casting to catch fish. Practicing in ideal conditions will help prepare you for the trickier situations, but real life experience will help you become the expert you want to be.

    Cast into Slow Moving Water, Particularly When Steelhead Fishing

    When out fishing for steelhead (or really any fish in cold rivers), be on the lookout for slow moving, or couch, water. When water is cold fish like to conserve their energy. Slow moving water provides them with a gentler place to sit and wait for food.

    A good place in the slow moving water to look is where fast moving water is coming into the couch water.

     

    Go On a Guided Fishing Trip

    The best way to improve your cast is by getting feedback from professionals. The best way to do this? Go on a guided trip with experienced fishing guides.

    Not only will this give you an opportunity to fish with seasoned pros who will help you catch fish, it will also allow you to fish with anglers who can provide real life feedback on your cast.

    While your friends may be able to provide feedback while you are a beginner, experienced fishing guides will give you tips to bring even experienced anglers to the next level. You’ll also be around other fisherman who take fishing seriously with whom you can trade tips and gain knowledge.

    Guided trips turn anglers into the fishermen they want to be.

     

    Ready to Bring Your Fishing to the Next Level?

    Winding Waters River Expeditions will take you on the adventure of a lifetime. Our guides have been fishing the waters of Eastern Oregon for years and know the rivers inside and out. They also just plain know fly fishing, and will be there to help you become an even better fisherman.

    All fly fishing trips include:

    • Transportation to and from the river from Joseph, OR
    • All necessary fishing equipment for success on the river you’ll be fishing
    • Full-service guides with years of experience
    • All meals and campsites, including gourmet local ingredients and heated tents

    Read more about our available trips today.

  12. Private Charter Rafting Trips

    Comments Off on Wilderness & Sublimity: the Conservation of Hells Canyon

    “Holy Smoke. Is this in my state?” ~Senator Bob Packwood after viewing photos of Hells Canyon.

    In May of this year, we had the opportunity to take an important figure in Hells Canyon’s history down the Snake River through Hells Canyon. It wasn’t Boyd Norton’s first time on this stretch of river. In fact, it was nearly 50 years ago his photos of this wild and remote stretch of wilderness kept this section of the deepest river canyon in North America from going underwater.

    In the late 1960s, the last wild, un-dammed section of Hells Canyon was under threat of flood by damming. Engineering field surveys and core sampling was underway and companies were in the courts trying to decide if the dam was to be run as a private or public corporation. During this time, photographer Boyd Norton ran the river by raft and took his photographs to the desk of Senator Bob Packwood. Senator Packwood, astounded by the beauty and scale of Hells Canyon, led the charge in Congress to conserve this segment of the Snake River in Hells Canyon from damming. This conservation story is a testament to the power of photography and the importance of wilderness to our culture.

    In May, Norton was joined by 5 fellow photographers, including Kendrick Moholt, to capture Hells Canyon’s beauty today. The adventure-seeking group braved springtime flows of 55,000 cfs which provided a dramatic backdrop for their images. The photos were part of an exhibit at the Josephy Center for Arts & Culture in Joseph called “Wilderness and Sublimity: Photography and the Conservation of Hells Canyon”. The exhibit will be on display at the Pendleton Center for the Arts in February, 2018. We are proud to be part of this historic adventure in Hells Canyon.

  13. How to Plan for a Fall/Winter Steelhead Fly Fishing Trip in Eastern Oregon

    Comments Off on Activities for Non-Fisherman near Joseph, OR

    Photo Credit: Wikipedia

    Activities for Non-Fishermen near Joseph, OR

    At Winding Waters River Expeditions we love fishing. Nothing makes us happier than going out on the Grande Ronde river in search of Steelhead, Rainbow Trout or Smallmouth Bass. But while Joseph, OR is a fisherman’s dream, not everybody loves fishing as much as us. Luckily, there are many ways to experience the waters and the natural wonderland of the Wallowa region without casting a fly. Whether it is rafting, hiking, or even bird watching, Joseph Oregon has something for every member of your family!

    Below we’ve outlined 5 of our favorite activities for non-fisherman in the Wallowa region.

     

    White Water Rafting

    Fishing too slow for you? No fear! You can still experience the beautiful rivers in the Wallowa region! The Salmon, Snake, and Grande Ronde rivers all offer their own unique and exciting adventures. At Winding Waters River Expeditions, we offer a number of different trips through these beautiful rivers.

    All trips offer and include:

    • Transportation to and from the river.
    • Delicious gourmet meals made from fresh, local ingredients.
    • Sound and comfortable sleep thanks to our luxurious camping equipment.
    • Wildlife and nature spotting opportunities, including Bald Eagles, Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, geometric columnar basalt, beautiful wildflowers, and much more.
    • The experience of rafting powerful, world renowned class II, III, IV rapids.
    • Knowledgeable and experienced guides with decades of rafting experience.

    We also offer a number of annual events throughout the year. These include a geology focused 3-day Hell’s Canyon trip and a 4-day trip where you experience intimate nightly musical performances on the river!

     

    Hike in the Wallowa Mountains

    The Wallowa Mountains are considered one of the 7 wonders of Oregon and for good reason. Know as the “Alps of Oregon,” the Wallowa range is a beautiful, snow capped range that is generally less crowded than other mountainous destinations in the state.

    The region offers some of the best hiking in the country, offering everything from shorter day-hikes to multiple night backpacking journeys.

    Below, we’ve put some of our favorite hikes to check out:

    • Chief Joseph Mountain – Towering at 9,617 feet above the town of Joseph, Chief Joseph Mountain is a picturesque, if not grueling hike. Coming in at 14.1 miles, this hike should only be attempted by experienced hikers. The summit can be reached using the Chief Joseph Mountain trail.
    • Hurricane Creek Trail – A moderate 19.3-mile hike amongst a beautiful forest, giving you views of the surrounding mountains throughout. Though probably a bit too long for just a day hike, this is a perfect hike for an overnight trip! Another option is to hike a portion of the trail and turn around. The views start at about a mile in, so it is still well worth it even if you don’t hike the whole trail!
    • Bonny Lakes – The Bonny Lakes trail offers a scenic gradual 7.8-mile round-trip hike up to an attractive alpine lake. Make sure to check out this trail in early August to see the wildflowers! Mariposa lily, monkshead, paintbrush, and wild onion will all be in bloom.
    • China Cap – Although standing at 8,655 feet, China Cap is still likely the easiest peak to reach in the range. Once you wind up the 9.4-mile trail to the top you will be greeted by unmatched views of the Wallowa range.

     

    Photo Credit: Wikipedia

    Wallowa Lake Tram

    Don’t feel like hiking miles to a summit? No fear! The Wallowa Lake Tram will take you to the top of one of the most beautiful mountains in the region, Mt. Howard.

    Taking you up 3,700 feet to the 8,256-foot summit, the Wallowa Lake Tram is the steepest 4-person tram in North America. Once at the top, you can view wildlife and an alpine meadow via short hiking trails.

    Once you are done taking in the sites, including views of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, you can grab a bite at Oregon’s highest restaurant, the Alpine Grill.

     

    Photo Credit: Wikipedia

    Boat on Wallowa Lake

    Just outside Joseph and at the base of the tram sits Wallowa Lake, a beautiful ribbon lake surrounded by the Wallowa mountains. The lake features two different boat ramps for boaters who are able to tow their own boat in. You can also rent boats at the lake, including kayaks, row boats, canoes, and motored row and pontoon boats.

    The lake is great for swimming, and is generally not too crowded even on summer weekends! Still, make sure to call ahead if looking to rent a boat to ensure you will be able to get out on the water!

     

    Bird Watching

    The Wallowa region is a top birding destination in the Pacific Northwest. Birding is a fun activity for family members of all ages. All you need is a decent set of binoculars, a field guide, and an interest in wildlife to enjoy!

    There are lots of interesting birds in their natural habitat right near town. Some birds in the region are:

    • Bald Eagles
    • Great Blue Heron
    • Killdeer
    • Western Bluebird
    • Osprey
    • Red-breasted Nuthatch
    • Red-tailed Hawk
    • Western Tanager
    • Pileated Woodpecker

     

    Explore Joseph, Oregon

    Want to experience an authentic eastern Oregon town? Look no further than Joseph, OR. Originally platted in 1883, Joseph feels like a true old-western town.

    Get a sense of the local culture in Joseph::

    • Eat a great meal: Joseph has a number of local restaurants serving up delicious meals.
    • Drink a local Beer: In typical Oregon fashion, a number of local breweries have popped up in Joseph. Perfect for after a day exploring the Wallowas!
    • Wallowa County Farmers Market: Find this local’s favorite farmers market every Saturday in downtown Joseph.
    • Local Artwork: A number of galleries and artisan shops have opened up, establishing Joseph as a top destination in Eastern Oregon for beautiful artwork.

     

    Take a Flight on a Hot Air Balloon

    Have you ever wanted to try hot air balloons but never had a good opportunity? Well now is your chance! A hot air balloon flight is a perfect way to take in the many mountains and lakes the region offers. The best time to take in the scenery is at sunrise due to the wind, so make sure to book your flight for early in the day. You will not regret it when staring out over the Wallowa range as the sun is rising over the mountains.

     

    Looking for an Adventure of a Lifetime?

    Winding Waters River Expeditions can help you have the time of your life! Whether you are looking for a day trip or a 6-day long excursion, we’ve got you covered. Our tours require no experience and are fun for everyone. If you have any more questions, contact us and we’ll be happy to help.

    Happy Adventuring!

  14. What To Expect On A Whitewater Rafting Adventure

    Comments Off on 7 Things You Must See, Do, Eat & Drink in Joseph, Oregon

    Are you planning a once-in-a-lifetime whitewater rafting or guided fly fishing adventure to Eastern Oregon? If you’ve never been to the area before, you’re in for a real treat! There’s so much to do, see, eat, and drink in Joseph– beyond enjoying the great outdoors that is!

    In this month’s post, we’ll show you some of our favorite Joseph, Oregon hotspots that your whole family will love. There’ll be great ideas for day hikes, fun side trips for the whole family, and places to relax and have fun in town for the non-fishermen!

    If you like this post, you’ll love our new and updated Insider’s Guide to Joseph, Oregon. Request your copy here. And if we missed something that you love about the area, let us know on our Facebook page!

     

    1. Don’t Miss the Wallowa County Farmers Market!

    Every Saturday morning (well, from May through October), downtown Joseph comes alive as locals and tourists shop at the Wallowa County Farmers Market. You’ll find tons of amazing, delicious, fresh local produce, as well as free-range meat, local arts and crafts, and much more.

    There’s even live music and other fun events!

     

    2. You’ll Love the Mountain Bike Trails

    In addition to world-class whitewater rafting, Eastern Oregon is home to some of the best mountain biking in the entire world (in our humble opinion). Our local multi-use trails offer anywhere from 7-20 miles of incredible single track. There are options for beginners and expert riders alike. There’s plenty of hills, too– if you’re looking for a challenge!

    Our favorite trails:

    • Redmont Trail Network – This trail system offers with amazing views of the Wallowa and Seven Devils mountain ranges and beautiful forests.
    • Wagon Road Trail – This trail is a 5-mile out and back that’s best for more experienced riders. You’ll love the challenging switchbacks on this trail!

    Don’t Forget: You can get a free map of local trails from the Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce!

     

    3. Take a Trip on The Tram

    Looking for an amazing view without having to ride your bike up a mountain? The whole family will love the Wallowa Lake Tram! The tram gains nearly 4,000 feet in elevation, ending at the top of Mount Howard– a bit over 8,000 feet above sea level.

    From there, you can enjoy lunch at Summit Grill. Then take a fun (but challenging) hike on the East Peak Trail, all the way to Aneroid Peak (9,700+ feet above sea level).

     

    4. Choose Your Brew: Coffee or Beer?

    Instagram: debinpdx

    Whether you’re looking for a coffee to get you going in the morning or a local craft beer to wind down at the end of the day, Joseph, Oregon has you covered!

    Our favorite local spots:

    • Red Horse Coffee Traders – Right in downtown Joseph, a great spot to hit up before seeing the sights or visiting the Farmers Market.
    • Arrowhead Chocolates & Coffee – Another downtown Joseph staple (find it on Main Street!), their chocolates have won national awards!
    • Terminal Gravity Brewery – Located in nearby Enterprise, Oregon, we love Terminal Gravity Brewery! Great beer and great food! Their TG IPA is rightfully world-famous!
    • Embers Brew House – The biggest selection of local microbrews plus some of the best pizza around! A great spot to catch a live band, too– after a day of catching Rainbow Trout!

     

    5. See Local Artwork You’ll Love!

    Instagram: siljerebeccachr

    From endless blue skies to raging rivers to towering mountains, the natural beauty of Eastern Oregon has inspired local artists for generations. When you’re visiting Joseph, Oregon, make sure to check out:

    • Valley Bronze – For more than 35 years, they’ve been casting bronze statues that are seen around the world!
    • Olaf Pottery – Schedule a tour to see an amazing pottery artist in action!
    • Moonshine Glass – Amazing, hand-blown glasswork. Russell Ford’s creations are not only beautiful, they’re functional! He makes bowls, vases, and even beer steins!

     

    6. Can’t-Miss Day Hikes

    Instagram: madam_merlot

    While many people visit Joseph, Oregon for an unforgettable white water rafting adventure, we can’t not mention the area’s incredible day hikes!

    A few of our favorites include:

    • Maxwell Lake
    • Brownie Basin
    • Mirror Lake
    • Bonnie Lakes and Dollar Pass
    • LaGore Lake
    • Ruby Peak
    • Copper Creek Basin
    • Blue Hole from Indian Crossing Trailhead (The area’s best swimming hole, in our humble opinion!)

     

    7. Kick Back & Enjoy A Great Meal!

    Instagram: rimrockinnor

    Yes, Joseph is a great place to enjoy the great outdoors. But is there anything more satisfying than a delicious meal after a day outdoors? We don’t think so!

    Luckily, Joseph is home to some really incredible restaurants that specialize in serving great meals made from local ingredients.

    • Imnaha Tavern – Perfect for adventurous eaters. Try the deep-fried frog legs, chicken gizzards, and rattlesnake. Or just enjoy an ice-cold PBR at this local hangout.
    • Rim-Rock Restaurant – Located on Highway 3, overlooking Joseph Creek Canyon the Rim Rock is a perfect place to stop for a meal! The Rim Rock Burger is always a crowd pleaser! And don’t forget to save room for a piece of Chocolate Cream Pie!

     

    Request The Complete Insider’s Guide to Joseph Oregon

    Whether you’re planning to take a fishing or rafting trip with us, or just visiting the area on your own, you can request a free copy of The Insider’s Guide to Joseph Oregon. Just sign up here!

     


    Photo Credits:
    Photo credit: nan palmero via VisualHunt / CC BY
    Photo credit: theslowlane via Visualhunt.com / CC BY
    Photo credit: ex_magician via VisualHunt / CC BY
    Photo credit: Eric Gropp via Visual hunt / CC BY
    Photo credit: Sam Beebe, Ecotrust via VisualHunt.com / CC BY

  15. Hells and High Water

    Comments Off on The Power of Community

    Community is everything in our rural corner of Oregon. The county we live in, Wallowa, is larger than the state of Rhode Island, with just a handful of people (a smidgen over 7,000). The saying “it takes a village” is used A LOT here. And we don’t think this community is unusual.

    But what we do think is unique is how people pull together to get things done. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way is another local mantra. And a group that helps facilitate “getting things done” is the Enterprise-Joseph Lions Club (part of the larger Lions Club International).

    Liability insurance is a large hurdle for volunteer groups wishing to accomplish big things. This Club has stepped up to provide both liability insurance and human-power to a few large community enterprises, including Ferguson Ridge Ski Area, the Wallowa Valley Ice Rink, and the Joseph City Park Playground Community Build. And to go one step further, this club also OWNS Ferguson Ridge Ski Area!

    If you want to support this Lions Club’s work, buy a Nature Conservancy BUCK TAG! Only a few left!

    Paul and Penny, both members of this Enterprise-Joseph Lions Club, are proud to be part of both of the ski area and the playground project. You may have read our winter blog post about the ‘Off Season’ discussing these activities.

    Here’s a quick recap:

    Paul is in charge of safety management on the river and in the winter, enjoys his roles with snow-safety management in our community: as Director of Ferguson Ridge Ski Patrol and Board Member for the Wallowa Avalanche Center. ‘Fergi’, as our local ski hill is affectionately called, is a local institution. It’s one of the last remaining community-owned and operated ski hills in the US and every person working at the hill is a volunteer. It boasts 630 vertical feet and a T-Bar up the center. Our community comes out of the wood-work in the winter to play together in the snow. Both Paul and Penny have patrolled there for nearly 10 years now and love it. The best part is seeing the kids learning to ski. And once the backcountry is ready to ski, the Wallowa Avalanche Center crew provides reports on snow conditions important for skier safety.

    Penny is eye-ball deep in is the Joseph City Park Playground Renovation. This project involves the community 100% – from the Joseph Kindergarten through 6th graders helping design and fundraise to community volunteers building the playground April 25-30, 2017. And the Enterprise-Joseph Lions Club will be there helping to build the playground (along with providing event insurance for the build). Over $200,000 has been raised for the new playground. Come help us build the new playground SOON: April 25-30, 2017!

    10-7-16 Joseph Rendering-web

  16. River Time Yoga

    Comments Off on What To Pack On A White Water Rafting Trip

    Ready for an adventure of a lifetime? White water rafting is an amazing experience full of moments of excitement and awe in the great outdoors. It’s best to come prepared for your trip so you can enjoy yourself no matter what may be in store.

    Many outfitters, like Winding Waters River Expeditions, provide premium rafting and camping equipment, including life jackets, dry bags, tents, sleeping pads, and more. However, you are responsible for your own personal items.

    What should you pack for a white water rafting trip? That depends on the type of trip, time of year, and length of the trip. However, there are a few essentials for white water rafting you can’t do without no matter what kind of trip you take.

    We’ve put together a detailed packing list that you can download here, or continue reading for a great overview of what you need to bring on your river rafting adventure.

    Clothing To Pack For A White Water Rafting Trip

    One of the first things you’ll need to pack is the clothing you will wear on your rafting trip. As a general rule, try to avoid cotton clothing. Cotton tends to get cold when wet — and you’ll definitely be getting wet — so avoid cotton in every season.

    The clothing you pack will generally depend on the weather, but here are a few clothing-related items you will need to bring no matter what time of year you go rafting:

    • River Shoes – Wear sturdy sandals with straps that are designed for watersports. Flip flops won’t cut it!
    • Camp “Slippers” – You’ll need dry shoes to wear around camp to keep your feet safe and warm. Remember, mornings can be cold even in the summer!
    • Extra Plastic Bag for Wet Clothes – You can use a trash bag or a large ziplock. Keep your wet clothes separate from your dry clothes so everything doesn’t end up soggy.
    • Set of dry clothes – After a day getting splashed on the river, you’re going to want something nice and dry to change into.

    For warm and sunny weather, be sure to pack:

    • Quick-dry shorts or bathing suit
    • Synthetic shirt (quick-drying, non-cotton material)
    • Long-sleeved sun shirt
    • Sun-blocking hat – Bring a brimmed hat to protect your face from the sun
    • Sunglasses – Don’t forget a retainer strap

    For cool, cold, or rainy weather, be sure to pack:

    • Top outer layer, such as a windproof and waterproof jacket
    • Bottom outer layer, such as windproof and waterproof pants
    • Sweater, jacket, or sweatshirt (fleece or wool recommended)
    • Warm hat – tin, snug
    • Synthetic or wool socks
    • Synthetic long sleeve shirt(s) and top layers
    • Synthetic long underwear or leggings

    Personal Items To Pack For A White Water Rafting Trip

    Water Bottle

    Water is your best friend on your river vacation. It’s not just carrying you down the river, it’s also hydrating your body and keeping you healthy. We recommend Hydro Flask water bottles, which are specially designed to keep your water cold. Whatever water bottle you bring, it’s a good idea for it to have a carabiner so you can easily clip it to the raft and other gear for easy access.

    Sunblock

    Nothing ruins a good outdoor vacation like a sunburn. If there’s one personal item you can’t do without on a white water rafting trip, it’s sunblock. Bring along a container of long-lasting, waterproof, and sweatproof sunblock, along with a sun-blocking hat and chapstick with SPF. We apply early and often on the river!

    Snacks

    With Winding Waters River Expeditions you will enjoy sustainable, locally grown foods during meal times, but in between you may want to have something to snack on. Only bring snacks that are light to carry and don’t require cold or hot storage.

    Soap, Lotion, and Toiletries

    At the end of the day, you’ll probably want to wash off that “river feeling.” Bring along some soap (we recommend Dr. Bronner’s) and other basic toiletries to clean up after a long, adventure-filled day. Lotion is also a great idea to bring some moisture back to your sun-soaked skin. Don’t forget to throw any medications you need into your toiletry bag too!

    Fun Items To Pack For A White Water Rafting Trip

    In addition to the essentials like clothing and gear, you may want to pack a few fun items to enjoy during your free time camping along the river.

    Here are a few extra items you may want to consider bringing:

    • Camping hammock
    • Swimming goggles or snorkel gear
    • Binoculars
    • Star gazing guides
    • Playing cards
    • Flashlight or headlamp

    Just be sure your extra items are small, light, and easy to pack!

    The Not-To-Pack List For White Water Rafting Trips

    Almost as important as knowing what to bring on a white water rafting trip is knowing what not to bring. Some items and white water rafting just don’t mix. The last thing you want is to lose or damage your personal belongings, especially valuable personal belongings. Keep in mind, your stuff (and yourself) will be exposed to the great outdoors, so don’t bring anything you don’t want to put at risk.

    Here are a few items you should definitely leave at home:

    • Electronics (laptop, iPad, iPod, etc.)
    • Expensive jewelry
    • Expensive eyewear

    If you do choose to bring electronics like your smartphone or camera, make sure you have a dependable waterproof case to reduce the risk of damage.

    Get Packing and Get Going!

    More often than not, our white water rafting guests find that they overpack for the trip rather than underpack. As long as you have the essential items appropriate for your trip length and weather conditions, you should be just fine.

    Remember, with Winding Waters River Expeditions, you are lead by experienced, full-service guides. They will make sure you are well-equipped and prepared to enjoy a trip of a lifetime. The most important things you can bring are your spirit of adventure and sense of wonder.

    If you have any questions about what to bring on your rafting trip, feel free to contact Winding Waters River Expeditions by phone or email and we’ll help you with everything you need. You can also grab our detailed packing list here to print out and mark up as you prepare for your trip.

  17. Solar Eclipse Rafting Trip 2017

    Comments Off on RIVER Explorers

    RIVER school header

    Exploring the watersheds of the Salmon, Snake, and Grande Ronde Rivers is what we do…all summer long. And in 2017 we’ve added another fun and exciting layer to our explorations of the Salmon with Dr. Ruthi Davenport. The lucky 6-12 year olds who will join this trip will be guided in their explorations of the plants, animals, water, rocks, and people of the Salmon’s Watershed. Ruthi is a river rat herself and appreciates the free-form nature of river trips. She’s excited to bring a soft layer of learning to beach time, to build on the already curious nature of kiddos and offer knowledge and guidance to explorations. Ruthi will include music as well to make times like evening campfires a truly memorable experience.

    And Penny and Paul are of course SUPER excited about this trip as they’ve been wanting to add naturalist experiences for kids for years. “We take advantage of ‘teachable moments’ on the river to incorporate learning. However, having Ruthi along with a sole focus on mentoring the kids will provide the kids a truly wonderful and life-forming experience.”

    This trip is open to all members of a family. In camp, parents will relax while their kids explore and learn with Ruthi. Give Penny and Paul a call to reserve your seats on this fantastic family adventure.

  18. The “Off Season”?

    Comments Off on 2016 Season Slideshow: Smiles, Sun, and Silly

    The 2016 Summer Rafting Season is a Wrap! Typically not a term we like to use in the rafting business, but it fits here! We’ve compiled a few of our favorite pix from the season. Forgive us for not including every smiling face we had on the river with us. I think you’ll enjoy this slideshow nonetheless. We also included some videos below from our trips.

    Bocce Fun - Photo Kendrick Moholt
    Ok, Mike, we won't take this photo. 🙂
    Mark in the Saddle - Photo by Kendrick Moholt
    Canyon Peace - Photo Kendrick Moholt
    Ducky Fun! - Photo Kendrick Moholt
    Sil-Jay!
    Camp Tranquility - Photo Kendrick Moholt
    Photo Kendrick Moholt
    Della Mae Band loading onto the shuttle to the Salmon River
    Lars!
    Happy times
    Sunset in Hells Canyon - Photo Ellen Bishop
    Della Mae playing on the rafts!!
    Della Mae playing on the rafts
    Whitewater!! - Photo Kendrick Moholt
    Brandon rocking the mandolin
    Jay-Rad!
    Beautiful Canyons - Photo Kendrick Moholt
    Della Mae Band performing on the Salmon River
    Group Photo in Hells Canyon - Photo Ellen Bishop
    Yes, a Stand-Up Base came along on the river!
    Paddle Raft Fun - Photo by Kendrick Moholt
    Brian & the Dutch Oven Love - Photo Kendrick Moholt
    Robin- Hoola Hoop Master!! - Photo Kendrick Moholt
    Hells Canyon Wildflowers & Sunset - Photo Ellen Bishop
    Beach Volleyball
    Blue Canyon
    Huge Cricket!
    Ders!
    Paddlers Unite!
    An early season photo with Todd Kruger

     

    Below is a wonderful video created by Madi Bares, a talented 16 year old guest on our July Music For Wild Places Trip!

     

  19. Top 5 Packing List Items

    Comments Off on 2016 Winter Snowpack Stacking Up

    This winter’s snowpack is making us giddy for the upcoming rafting and fishing season. The Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) website reports snowpack averages in our region as 100% or more:

    So what does this map mean for our river season? All of our rivers are in great shape for the rafting season: the Snake River in Hells Canyon, the Salmon River, the Grande Ronde and the Wallowa River. And the fish will be very happy about these flows, too. The water was a little shallow on the Wallowa and Grande Ronde Rivers last summer, making for warm temperatures for the fish.

    Jordan Manley, one of our guides, enjoying this winter snowpack.

    jordan-ski

    We’ll keep our oars and paddles crossed that the spring continues to bring its typical snows to the Pacific Northwest.

  20. Glacier National Park and Rafting

    Comments Off on Give Back to The River

    In 2016, will you run your fingers through the white sands of the Salmon, jump off Sturgeon Rock in Hells Canyon, or bird watch among the giant Ponderosas on the Grande Ronde? Book your trip now until Sunday, December 6th and we’ll give $100 in your name to Western Rivers Conservancy for every full-fare seat on our multi-day trips, plus send you a 21oz Hydroflask. Your donation will help insure rivers like our Salmon, Snake, and Grande Ronde will be accessible and healthy for generations to come.

    We are very fortunate to run trips on beautiful, healthy rivers accessible to the public. Western Rivers Conservancy (WRC) is working to insure that access and health remains for future generations. They also acquire land to conserve critical river habitat and work to secure the health of whole ecosystems. On the Grande Ronde River at Minam, they purchased a part of the boat launch, securing public access, and turned it over to Oregon State Parks. On the Salmon River at Pine Bar, they purchased 1,284 acres to protect both public access and habitat for endangered fish species. The land is now managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Thank you for your visionary work, WRC.

    Sunset on the Salmon
    Snowhole Canyon
    Class III and IV whitewater
    Beautiful white sand beaches
    Snowhole Rapid, Class IV Whitewater
    Deep canyons where all you hear is the trill of Canyon Wrens & laughter from the group
    Fascinating geology, including Columnar Basalt
    Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep
    Class III and IV whitewater
    Beautiful white sand beaches and warm, crystal clear water.
    Quality family time
    A typical beach camp along the Salmon
    Sumo wrestling…a hilarious scene
    Rest, relax, and let us take care of everything
    Native American pictograph site in Green Canyon
    Cliff jumping
    Wild caught salmon cooked on a cedar plank is one of our mouth-watering specialties.
    The zen of the canyons
    Perfect adventure for individuals, families, and groups
    Farm fresh eggs (from our WWRE chickens), fresh breads, and seasonal fruits are always on the menu.
    Dinner on the Salmon
    Inflatable Kayak Fun!
    Beach Bocce Ball

  21. Happy 40th Birthday Hells Canyon National Recreation Area

    Comments Off on 2015…One Incredible Summer

    Thank you to everyone who joined us on our rafting adventures this summer! It was another banner year, full of fantastic specialty trips, family and group charters, wonderful food, hilarious costume parties, and many new friends! And thank you to our guide crew, who make it all happen. The slideshow above is a compilation of photos from the summer, which includes just a few of the shining faces and rejuvenated souls we had the pleasure of floating the rivers with this summer.

    And thank you again for the testimonials. Below are a few of your words from the summer:
    “The guides were awesome, the food was awesome (In fact I kept telling Erica after we left early that I wondered what the rest of the group was eating that day at meal times), and as you know the river and canyon were awesome. We will be posting a five star tripadvisor review soon and singing your praises, and yes as Erica said we will definitely be doing the trip again. Hopefully many times.”

    “All the guide (and staff) were incredibly generous with their time, assistance and great stories. Such great people! I wish I had some helpful constructive criticism to share with you, but every aspect of the trip was so far above and beyond my expectation that I truly cant imagine a better experience. Thank you so much!”

    “Everything was top notch-food, people, service, attention to the kids! You have great people working for/with you there.”

    “I can’t put into words how great the service was. you have a great thing going on can’t wait to bring my children back.”

    “Better than excellent.The guides and staff were friendly,professional, helpful, aware of the environment, informative,and passionate about the river. The love that they have for Oregon and the rivers is contagious. The team had a system that kept the passengers on the rafts, kayaks and paddle boards safe and comfortable. The camp sites were well selected and arranged and the food was delicious.”

    “LOVED the staff. AMAZING quality, caring people and fun. I loved everyone and had a great time for my birthday and LOVED the staff. i would recommend this team and WW to anyone.”

  22. Is a Guided Fly Fishing Trip Right for Me?

    Comments Off on Wilderness Advanced Life Support Course in Hells Canyon

    Looking for a wilderness advanced life support course taught in the wilderness? With the unique combinationWilderness Advanced Life Support 2 of adventure on a rafting trip? Look no further! Join Wilderness Medical Associates and Winding Waters River Expeditions September 14-19, 2015 on the Snake River in Hells Canyon. Take a trip of a lifetime and learn from 2 outstanding instructors all while earning 36 hours of continuing medical education credits.

    This 6 day, 36-hour course takes place primarily during a river trip on the Snake River in Hells Canyon. Learn in the wilderness, run world-class whitewater, and experience the natural world without distractions from everyday life. The course is open to certified or licensed advanced level medical practitioners from EMT-Intermediates and above involved in rescue, mass casualty, and remote outdoor environments or urban areas in disaster or crisis. This constantly-evolving course is highlighted by discussions of new and innovative ideas and the appropriate application of technologies. The learning environment is challenging, stimulating, and fun.

    Past participants had a lot to say about their experience:Wilderness Advanced Life Support 1

    I felt spoiled. I have never done an expedition that everything was taken care of for me. The raft crew was always 1 step ahead of our needs.” – Bill, Maine

    Awesome food! Your commitment to local products is inspiring and the quality shines in the meals.” – LaVonne, Washington

    First long river trip, but not the last. WALS Course also excellent. Paul coordinated trip/course needs/timing with good results.” – Ian, Oregon

    Best group in total I ever worked with. I liked the fact the crew would socialize with us, but understand they need their down time also.” – Kurt, Minnesota

    This video gives you a little insight into the quality of Winding Waters’ trips:

  23. Winter Snowpack Update

    Comments Off on Win a Free WWRE T-Shirt!

    Help us talk up Winding Waters! In the month of December, send us your favorite memory from a trip with us, plus a photo, and we’ll send you a free WWRE t-shirt (to the first 20 people to respond). Simply email Penny with your photo and memory at Pen@windingwatersrafting.com. Here are some of our favorite photo memories from past trips:

  24. 2004 to 2014 – Ten Years and Going Strong!

    Comments Off on Music For Wild Places

    “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” ~John Muir

    Kai-Welch-Imnaha-River

    Our friend and fellow river guide Kai Welch, a grammy-nominated singer-songwriter from Nashville, TN, has come up with a brilliant idea. Campfire sing-alongs have always been a favorite past-time on a river trip. Kai wants to take it to the next level and bring along world-class musicians. Spend your days drifting through beautiful river canyons, then listen to live music echo from these canyon walls in the evenings.

    Kai spent his younger years working as a river guide in Hells Canyon, developing a deep attachment to this wild place and others like it.  Music eventually led him to Nashville, TN where he is finding success with a touring/producing/songwriting career.  But while enjoying the music scene all over the world, it’s largely taken him away from these wild places.  Somewhere along the way he began to wonder, what if the concert hall and the river canyon or the alpine meadow didn’t have to be a world apart?  Last summer he took advantage of an opportunity to get back on the river when his tour-mate, Abigail Washburn, took a hiatus to have a baby with her husband, Bela Fleck. Kai called us up with the idea to start a Wilderness Concert Series, Music For Wild Places. We jumped at the opportunity.

    Music For Wild Places’ mission is to allow people to enjoy the wilderness in a unique way, combining the transporting experience of hearing world-class live music, with the soul-stirring feeling of connecting with a truly wild place.  In the process it hopes to promote an awareness for the need to conserve these places, for our own sake and theirs. A portion of the proceeds from each trip will be given to the Western Rivers Conservancy in support of their work in places like the Snake River’s watershed.

    In August, 2013, Kai and friends Ashley Campbell and Nat Smith joined our Plate & Pitchfork Raft Trip to provide music in Hells Canyon. So not only were our guests served amazing food from chefs Benjamin Bettinger and Doug Adams of the Imperial in Portland, but they were serenaded each evening by this “Hells Canyon Trio”. Check out some of their music. (And yes, Ashley is Glenn Campbell’s daughter and inherited much of his talent):

    For the summer of 2014, we’re planning 2 river trips. One on the Salmon River with ChessBoxer (Ross Holmes (of Mumford & Sons) & Matt Menefee) and Kai as the guest musicians. And one August 3-6 in Hells Canyon with Phoebe Hunt, Dominick Leslie (of the Deadly Gentlemen), Heather Robb (of The Spring Standards), and Kai.

    “We humans have accomplished a lot in the last few hundred years.  We have at least moved in the direction of equality and justice: mutual respect between men and women, between people of different races, religions, and sexual preferences.  Hey, compared to feudal times we’ve even broken a few barriers between rich and poor.  All these took generations — centuries of conflict, struggles, even wars to overcome.  And in each case, it’s human dignity and human rights we’ve been moving toward.  But what if our next great movement toward justice and equality isn’t strictly about us?  What if our next task is to apply those same ethics of human rights to the rest of the living world that keeps us all alive?  What if it could become our generation’s empowering cultural ethos to protect, revere, and attempt to learn something from the wildernesses we have left in this world?  And what if it even became hip in the mainstream?  What if this #ethos started trending on twitter, and went viral on Youtube?  Could loving the wilderness be a sexy pop sensation, the next big thing?  I think so.” – Kai Welch

  25. No Child Left Inside…Please

    Comments Off on Feeding the ‘Mom Meter’

    familyAdventuring together as a family is vital to my husband’s, my daughter’s, and my personal happiness. It creates so many wonderful memories and teaches us about each other. As head ‘Momma duck’ for our family, safety is the number one concern for my ‘duckling’. When determining whether a trip is safe and age-appropriate for our daughter, I ask many questions and rely on the trust-worthy advice I receive. My ‘Mom Meter’ takes into account all of this information and blends it with my intuition to determine if this adventure is in the green (i.e., appropriate and safe for her). Taking her on an adventure outside of her ability sends my ‘Mom Meter’ into the red and does not make for a relaxing, fun experience.

    I have grown to appreciate our company on a whole new level in my role as Momma Duck. We have taken hundreds of families on the river in our 10 years as Winding Waters River Expeditions. And, because of the trust we earn with these families, many have returned to try out all of our rivers with us. Our guide crew, including my husband Paul as a lead guide, are a seasoned group of caring individuals who pay attention to every last detail. But safety is number one. And it’s this attention to safety that has sent many Mom Meter’s into the green.

    So here’s a nod to all you adventuring Moms out there who love experiencing new things with your kiddos. I salute you.