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  1. Beyond Rafting: Discover What Makes Winding Waters River Expeditions Exceptional

    Comments Off on Riverside Stargazing: A Celestial Symphony in the Joseph Area

    As the sun sets behind the majestic Wallowa Mountains and the river whispers tales of the day’s adventures, there’s a whole new world that unfolds above – the captivating realm of stars and constellations.

    At Winding Waters River Expeditions, we invite you to experience the magic of riverside stargazing in the Joseph area, turning your evening into an awe-inspiring celestial symphony. Join us as we explore why stargazing is not just an activity; it’s a journey into the cosmos that adds an extra layer of wonder to your rafting adventure.

    The thrill of stargazing

    Stargazing has an intrinsic allure that transcends time and space. It’s a chance to connect with the universe, ponder the mysteries of the cosmos, and experience the humbling vastness of the night sky. Whether you’re a seasoned astronomer or a novice sky-watcher, the enchantment of gazing at the stars is a universal delight that captures the imagination and sparks curiosity.

    Why the Joseph area is ideal for stargazing

    Nestled in the heart of Eastern Oregon, the Joseph area boasts minimal light pollution, making it a prime location for crystal-clear stargazing.

    On our riverside rafting trips, away from the city lights, you’ll find yourself enveloped in darkness, creating the perfect canvas for the stars to dazzle. The tranquility of the riverside setting enhances the experience, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the celestial display.

    The 3 rivers we guide, the Salmon, Snake, and Grande Ronde rivers, all offer this serene nightly experience. Best yet? During the summer months cloud cover is generally at a minimum, providing excellent star gazing opportunities nightly.

    A celestial complement to riverside adventures

    As the sun bids farewell, casting a warm glow over the river canyons, the magic of our rafting journey extends into the night, transforming your experience into a seamless blend of celestial wonder and daytime delights. Engaging with the stars is the perfect complement to the breathtaking landscapes, diverse wildlife, and flowing rivers that captivate your senses during the day.

    Riverside connection

    As daylight fades and the stars emerge, the riverbanks take on a different allure. The tranquil sounds of the river accompany you as you settle into a comfortable spot, enveloped by the darkness. The silhouettes of canyon walls create a natural amphitheater, enhancing the acoustic beauty of the night and inviting you to reflect on the day’s adventures.

    Starry symphony over the canyons

    Gazing at the stars over the river canyons becomes a celestial symphony, with each constellation telling a story against the canvas of the night sky. The rugged silhouettes of the canyons become ethereal shadows, creating a dramatic backdrop for the celestial performance above. It’s a unique and harmonious interplay of nature’s wonders that transcends the ordinary.

    Wildlife in moonlight

    The nocturnal world comes alive as the moonlight bathes the riverbanks, revealing subtle details of the landscape. While daytime excursions offer glimpses of wildlife, the night brings a different cast of characters. Listen for the hooting of owls, the rustle of small mammals, and the distant calls of creatures awakening under the cover of darkness. Witnessing the transition between the diurnal and nocturnal realms adds a layer of intrigue to the natural rhythm of the canyon ecosystem.

    Summer constellations over the Joseph area

    While just general stargazing and searching for shooting stars (you’ll see lots on our trips) is amazing in and of itself, there are also many constellations to seek out. Some of our favorites include…

    •  The Summer Triangle (Vega, Deneb, Altair): Look up, and you’ll find this prominent trio of stars gracing the summer sky, forming a distinctive triangle that dominates the celestial dome.
    •  Scorpius and Sagittarius: These zodiac constellations are easily visible during summer nights, revealing their intricate patterns and captivating mythology.
    •  The Milky Way: Stretching across the night sky like a cosmic river, the Milky Way becomes a luminous highway of stars, showcasing the vastness of our home galaxy. While this is not necessarily a constellation, it is a must-see site!
    •  Cygnus the Swan: With its wings outstretched, Cygnus gracefully glides through the Milky Way, adding a touch of elegance to the celestial panorama.

    Practical stargazing tips

    •  Bring Binoculars or a Telescope: Enhance your stargazing experience by bringing binoculars or a small telescope to get a closer look at distant stars and celestial objects.
    •  Dress Warmly: Even in the summer, temperatures can drop at night. Bring layers to stay comfortable as you lose yourself in the cosmic spectacle.
    •  Learn the Constellations: Familiarize yourself with the constellations before your trip to make the experience even more enjoyable. Numerous stargazing apps can help you identify stars and planets. Download them before your trip!
    •  Stargazing Before Sleep: When you are on the trip, take a few moments to stargaze before settling in for the night. It’s a meditative experience that can enhance the overall sense of calm.

    Creating lifelong memories

    Riverside stargazing in the Joseph area isn’t just about looking up at the stars; it’s about immersing yourself in the cosmic tapestry that unfolds above the Wallowa Mountains and the meandering river. Join us for an evening of celestial wonder, where the magic of the night sky becomes an integral part of your rafting adventure.

    Get ready to embark on the adventure of a lifetime with Winding Waters River Expeditions and the captivating wilderness of Eastern Oregon! Browse our available rafting trips and reach out with any questions you have!

  2. A Beginner’s Guide to Rafting in the Pacific Northwest

    Comments Off on Rafting and Wildlife: What to Look for When Rafting With Us in Eastern Oregon

    Welcome, fellow adventurers and nature enthusiasts! If you’re seeking a thrilling, educational, and completely immersive natural experience for your family, look no further.

    At Winding Waters River Expeditions, we’re dedicated to providing families with unforgettable journeys that will foster a deeper appreciation for the natural world and create lifelong memories. In this blog post, we’ll explore the rich biodiversity and stunning landscapes you can expect to encounter on your rafting adventure with us.

    The Eastern Oregon wilderness

    Eastern Oregon is a hidden gem for nature enthusiasts, offering some of the most pristine and untouched landscapes in the United States. The Snake, Salmon, and Grande Ronde Rivers meander through the heart of this wilderness, making them perfect conduits for an up-close and personal encounter with wildlife and the local flora and fauna.

    While many people don’t think of a desert as an ecologically vibrant environment, nothing could be further from the truth. As the rivers wind and bend through this landscape, it creates an oasis of life that needs to be seen (and experienced) to be believed.

    When you join us on one of our adventures, you can look forward to experiencing a vast array of wildlife, flora, and fauna.

    Here’s what you can look forward to:

    Majestic wildlife

    Bald eagles

    The sight of a bald eagle soaring overhead will surely send chills down your spine. These iconic birds of prey are a common sight along our rivers, and their nests can be spotted in towering trees along the banks.


    With their distinctive black eye stripes and sharp talons, ospreys are frequently seen hunting fish near the water’s surface. If you’re lucky, you might witness one of their dramatic dives for a meal.

    Mule deer

    The banks of the rivers are often visited by mule deer, graceful and agile creatures that may come down for a drink or a bite to eat.

    Bighorn sheep

    The rocky canyons of the Snake River are a prime habitat for these incredible creatures. Their impressive horns are a sight to behold. Make sure to bring binoculars for the best view of these incredible animals!


    These playful creatures are a delight to watch as they frolic in the water and along the riverbanks. Keep your camera ready for their adorable antics.

    Mountain Goats

    Witness the majestic mountain goats scaling sheer cliffs with unparalleled grace, their white coats contrasting against the rugged landscapes, a testament to their mastery of Eastern Oregon’s high-altitude terrain.

    Great Blue Heron

    Graceful and patient, the Great Blue Heron stands sentinel along the riverbanks, its elegant silhouette poised for the perfect strike as it becomes a living embodiment of serenity and skill in the vibrant ecosystem.


    With a flash of brilliant blue, the kingfisher becomes a fleeting jewel along the river. Its rapid dives and distinctive call add a lively and colorful melody to the symphony of nature surrounding our rafting journey.

    Plant life


    The resilient bunchgrass carpets the riverbanks, swaying in the breeze and providing a verdant backdrop to our rafting adventure, showcasing the hardiness of Eastern Oregon’s flora.


    The riverbanks burst with colorful wildflowers in the spring and early summer, prickly pear cactus, yarrow, lupine, phlox, and arrowleaf balsamroot. It can be particularly fun to walk around at the nightly campsites to see these beautiful wildflowers up close!

    Dogwood Willow

    The delicate dogwood willow, with its slender branches and vibrant leaves, adds a touch of understated elegance to the river’s edge, enhancing the scenic beauty of our journey through its intricate and graceful presence.

    Douglas fir and ponderosa pine

    Two of the Pacific Northwest iconic trees can be seen at different parts of the rivers we float. These towering conifers can dominate the landscape, providing shade and habitat for countless wildlife species.

    Netleaf Hackberry

    Amidst the riverside flora, the Netleaf Hackberry stands as a testament to nature’s craftsmanship, with its distinctive leaves adding a touch of sophistication to the riparian scenery, making it a subtle yet captivating feature of our Eastern Oregon rafting experience.

    Educational adventures for families

    Our rafting trips are designed not only for adventure but also for education. We have experienced rafters on board who will share their knowledge about the region’s ecology, geology, and history.

    Creating lifelong memories

    At Winding Waters River Expeditions, we believe in fostering a deep connection between families and the natural world. The memories you create on our trips will stay with you forever. Whether it’s sharing stories around the campfire, marveling at the wildlife, or conquering the rapids together, our rafting adventures are an opportunity to unplug, reconnect, and embrace the beauty of Eastern Oregon.

    If you’re a family living in the Pacific Northwest or looking for a remarkable family trip idea, join us for an immersive, educational, and unforgettable experience. By the end of your journey, you’ll leave with a profound appreciation for nature and a treasure trove of memories that your family will cherish for a lifetime.

    Get ready to embark on the adventure of a lifetime with Winding Waters River Expeditions and the captivating wilderness of Eastern Oregon! Browse our available rafting trips and reach out with any questions you have!

  3. Why White Water Rafting is the Best Way to Enjoy Eastern Oregon & Idaho in the Summer

    Comments Off on Fun Family Trips in the Pacific Northwest

    Whether you’re looking to experience the Pacific Northwest for the first time or live here and are looking for some new vacation ideas, there are endless fun possibilities in this corner of the country for fun family trips.

    Keep reading to see some of our favorites that span the region and will provide your family with memories they’ll never forget.

    Rafting on the Snake, Salmon, or Grande Ronde River

    Paddle rafters in rapid on the Salmon River

    While many people think of the big cities and wet weather, one of the best family trips in the Pacific Northwest is east of the Cascades in cowboy country. Rafting the Snake, Salmon, or Grande Ronde Rivers is one of the best ways to experience this unique area and get a glimpse into the past.

    Featuring thrilling rafting, beautiful scenery and wildlife, gourmet food, and going to bed under the stars, rafting these rivers is an experience that your family will remember forever. Throughout the trip, you’ll experience swimming, side adventures where you’ll see prehistoric features, and much more.

    A fun rafting adventure for all ages

    When your family joins Winding Water River Expeditions for a rafting adventure, you’ll be leaving technology behind to spend time with family and friends in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Our crew will do all we can to make the experience as enjoyable and fulfilling as possible. We’re the rafting experts — just come to Joseph, Oregon and sit back and relax.

    With all of our trips, you’ll receive:

    • • Transportation to and from the river of choice from Joseph
    • • All the rafting and camping gear you need
    • • All-inclusive gourmet meals for the entirety of your trip
    • • Luxurious campsites set up for you every night
    • • Professional rafting guides with decades of experience

    Learn more about our rafting trips

    Olympic National Park

    Located west of Seattle but seemingly a world away, this stunning national park is a must-visit for any family looking to experience the best of the Pacific Northwest. With its rugged coastline, ancient rainforests, and snow-capped mountains, Olympic National Park offers a range of experiences for families of all ages.

    While this area experiences lots of precipitation during the winter months (which offers its own unique experience), summers are much drier and offer a pleasant reprieve when temps rise inland. You can hike through the Hoh Rainforest, explore the beaches along the coast, or climb to the top of Hurricane Ridge for breathtaking views of the park.

    San Juan Islands

    If you’re looking for an island adventure, the San Juan Islands are a great choice for families. These islands are located just off the coast of Washington State and are only accessible by taking a ferry to each island. Some of the more popular islands include:

    • • Orcas Island
    • • San Juan Island
    • • Lopez Island
    • • Sucia Island

    All of the islands offer plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation, including kayaking, whale-watching, and hiking. You can also visit the charming towns of Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor (both located on San Juan Island), where you’ll find unique shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions.

    Mount Rainier National Park

    If you’ve ever visited Seattle, you’ve seen Mt. Rainier far-off in the distance, looming over the city. This active volcano is a delightful destination that offers camping, quaint small towns, and plenty of hiking, fishing, and outdoor recreation.

    Mount Rainier National Park is the best way to experience this beautiful area and offers endless opportunities for family fun. You can hike to the top of the mountain (only for experienced hikers and mountaineers), explore the wildflower meadows, or visit the historic lodges that dot the park.

    Columbia River Gorge

    For families who love outdoor adventure, the Columbia River Gorge is a fantastic destination. This scenic area close to Portland offers miles of hiking trails, incredible waterfalls, and amazing views of the Columbia River.

    Formed by molten lava pressure 40-60 million years ago, the Gorge is now home to small towns on both sides of the river, some of the best hiking in the area, and stunning views at every turn. You can also go windsurfing, fishing, or take a scenic drive along the historic Columbia River Highway. Nearby Hood River is one of Oregon’s best cities for food, beer, and wine, and is worthy of a trip all on its own!

    Oregon’s North Coast

    Sandwiched between Oregon’s Coastal Range and the Pacific Ocean, Oregon’s North Coast is home to lots of beautiful scenery and charming towns. Similar to Olympic National Park, Oregon’s North Coast is wet in the winter but springs to life come summer with lots to see and do.

    Astoria, located at the mouth of the Columbia River, is a historic town and a great destination for families who want to experience the rich maritime history of the Pacific Northwest. You can visit the Columbia River Maritime Museum, explore the historic downtown area, or take a ride on the famous Astoria Riverfront Trolley.

    Leavenworth, WA

    If you’re looking for a unique cultural experience, Leavenworth is a must-visit destination in the Pacific Northwest. This charming Bavarian-style town offers plenty of family-friendly activities, including live music, festivals, and outdoor recreation. You can also explore the nearby Cascade Mountains, where you’ll find endless opportunities for hiking and skiing.

    This is a particularly fun trip in October when the city celebrates its German roots by hosting the Leavenworth Oktoberfest. With beer gardens, music, dancing, and food!

    Willamette Valley Wine Country

    While California might be known as the wine capital of the US, the Pacific Northwest is no slouch when it comes to wineries, including the Willamette Valley. The area is one of the premier wine regions in the United States and is known for its world-class Pinot Noir.

    Families can take tours of local wineries, sample delicious wines, and learn about the winemaking process. In addition to wine, the region is also known for its farm-to-table cuisine, with many restaurants and markets featuring locally sourced ingredients.

    Experience the best the Pacific Northwest has to offer

    Sunset over rafts on the Snake River

    At Winding Waters River Expeditions, we want to provide your family with the best rafting experience anywhere — not just in the Pacific Northwest. We’re proud to lead fully supported rafting trips down the Snake, Salmon, or Grande Ronde Rivers. Not only will you get a true wilderness experience, but our guides will provide everything you need for a comfortable trip.

    Get in touch to learn more about our whitewater trips and to book the experience of a lifetime next summer!

  4. What It Takes to be a River Guide

    Comments Off on Kids on the River

    We got the scoop on why kids love rafting!

    Being a kid and being on the river go together like peanut butter and jelly. Kids are made for the river, or quite possibly, rivers are made for kids. The wide open beaches, splashy rapids, and big swimming pools provide a natural playground that no kid can resist (or adult for that matter). But don’t take it from us! We wanted to know, first hand, how awesome it is to be a kid on the river. So, we went to our resident expert river kids: Linden and Britt Arentsen. With over 10 years of combined river experience, they are the region’s most trusted source on rafting vacations for kids. Luckily, they agreed to sit down with us and answer some questions about what is it like to be a kid on the river:

    How old are you?

    Linden: Eleven
    Britt: Seven and three-quarters 

    How old were you when you first started taking multi-day river trips?

    Linden: Three
    Britt: Four

    Disclaimer: These expert river kids started going on rafting trips earlier than we recommend. The youngest that we allow on our river trips is 5 years old for the Salmon and 7 years old for the Snake.

    When I say “the river” what words or pictures immediately come to mind?

    Linden: Fun! whitewater! 
    Britt: Fun! splashy!

    How do river trips make you feel?

    Linden: Disconnected from everything else, in a good way! 
    Britt: Excited!

    Can you tell me about a time that you felt proud of yourself on a river trip?

    Linden: When I paddle boarded most of the Salmon River. I fell off a lot. The first couple of times I was scared when I fell off but then I got used to it and realized I could just float and it was just water! Also when I learned how to put up a cot and a tent. 
    Britt: When I rowed the boat. It’s fun! I like feeling the of the push of the water. I also like to row because I can splash people with the oars. 

    Editor Comment: Usually when you arrive at camp your tent will be set up for you. However, we encourage guests to set up their own cot. If you need some pointers on how to set up a cot, check out our instructional video. We are also happy to teach you on the river!

    What is your favorite game to play on a rafting trip?

    Linden: Bocce ball, sardines, swimming through rapids. It’s fun to go up and down in the waves!
    Britt: Kubb, jumping off the boat!

    Editor Comment: On every trip we provide a game bag full of group games like bocce ball, Kubb, spikeball, and volleyball to keep the fun going all evening!**

    Do you ever get bored on rafting trips?

    Linden: No, not really. There’s always stuff to look at and do.
    Britt: I don’t usually get bored when I am out there. If I do then I usually get a snack or go in the water.

    Do you like the food on river trips?

    Linden: Yes! I love the food. It’s one of my favorite parts. 
    Britt: Yes!

    What is your favorite food on the river?

    Linden: Santa Fe cakes. Pineapple upside down cake. 
    Britt: Bacon.

    Editor Comment: We have a naturally kid-friendly menu. But in case you have a picky eater we always bring back up PB&J and boxed mac’n’cheese.

    What is your least favorite part of river trips?

    Linden: Bee stings. — is it ok to include this?
    Britt: Leaving the river. It just makes me want to get in a jet boat and go back up and do it all over again. 

    What is the coolest wildlife you have seen on a rafting trip?

    Linden: Otters!
    Britt: Bears!
    Linden: I don’t like to get close to the snakes but I think it’s really cool when I see them. 

    What is your favorite memory from the river?

    Linden: The first time I jumped off the tall jumping rock on the salmon river. It made me feel proud of myself!
    Britt: The first time I did a front flip into the water!


    What is your favorite video game right now? 

    Linden: Minecraft
    Britt: Roadblocks

    If you could choose between playing that video game for a week or going on a river trip for a week, which would you choose?

    Linden: River trip 100%!!!!
    Britt: River trip! River trip! River trip!

    What advice would you give other kids who are taking their first river trip?

    Linden: Don’t leave the groover box at the groover. If you drop your food on the ground make sure to pick it up because it attracts bees. Don’t just bury it in the sand. 
    Britt: If you want to go on a river trip you’re not immediately there. It takes awhile to get there and it takes awhile to get the boats ready. Bring your life vest and always stay seated when entering a rapid.
    Linden: Drink lots of water
    Britt: But don’t drink the river water
    Linden: Yeah, don’t drink the river water</span
    Britt: But you should pee in it. 

    Editor Comment: We provide all the gear you need for a river vacation, including kid and adult size life vests. “The Groover” is the name for our beloved river toilet. The “Groover Box” is what we use as the key to the bathroom. For more information about using the loo on the river, check out this post

    There you have it! A glowing review from river rafting’s top critics. Want to join in on the fun? Bring out your inner kid and come down the river with us!  Check out the variety of trips we have to offer: Guided Whitewater Rafting Trips

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

  5. Rafting Trips – the Perfect Mom Vacation

    Comments Off on Beyond the Packing List

    How to pack like a pro for your next river trip

    So, you have booked seats on an adventure of a lifetime: a river trip. The months and weeks of anticipation are turning into reality. You sent your last work email, set your auto reply, filled out your beer order, and bought out the sunscreen aisle from your local drug store. You’re almost there! Now…to pack. You’ve poured over our comprehensive packing list based on our years of experience. But there are a few key items that are hard to explain in just a list and will make your trip that much more enjoyable. Sarah Petrillo, one of our lead guides, goes “beyond the packing list” to expand on these key items:

    Quick dry pants and long-sleeve shirt 

    The sun on the river can be intense and we want to stress the importance of these 2 seemingly “overkill” clothing items. Slathering on sunscreen every couple of hours is a hassle. We suggest bringing a pair of full-length pants and a long-sleeve shirt for those days when you really don’t feel like re-applying. Make sure to bring quick-dry material for time on the water, like thin polyester or nylon. You will want to avoid materials with cotton (like jeans and sweatshirts) because they take a long time to dry out. After a couple of days in the sun, your skin will thank you for covering up. 

    Our guide Wilson rocking full sun protection


    Sundresses are one of the most convenient pieces of clothing that you can bring on a river trip. Being lightweight and airy, they are comfortable on a hot day, and simple to throw on once you get to camp. Our guides love this river dress: NRS Women’s H2Core Silkweight Hoodie Dress

    A sundress is not just practical, it also pairs well with a canyon sunset

    Something funky to wear

    They say what happens on the river stays on the river. . . including your questionable outfit choices. So get a little weird and bring a costume or two. Tutus, Hawaiian shirts, funky leggings, and wigs all pack well in a dry bag. If you plan on having a costume night then let us know! We will bring a costume bag so that everyone can join in on the fun.

    Lookin’ good! A costume night can really spice up a river trip! (That’s Sarah, author, in the purple dress with her family & guide buddies on the Salmon River)


    Skin care is one of the most overlooked packing items on a river trip. The constant exposure to water, wind and sun is guaranteed to dry out your skin. We suggest bringing moisturizer and salve to put on at night in order to prevent dry, cracked lizard skin. Some of our favorite skin care products come from both Wild Carrot Herbals & Orchard Farm Soap. Both of these family owned companies produce skin care products with locally grown & sourced ingredients. Orchard Farm is owned by one of our guide’s family (Avery Jaeckel). The Boathouse Shop will be carrying products from both businesses for 2022.

    Extreme “lizard skin” from river wear and tear

    Camp shoes 

    The shoes that you wear on the river should be different from the shoes you wear at camp. The straps commonly found on river shoes tend to rub and become abrasive next to wet skin. Sand and gritty pebbles also tend to cling underneath the straps, making the problem worse. You can avoid hot spots and blisters by bringing another pair of shoes to change into when you get to camp. A guide favorite for hot weather is crocs or flip-flops, because they are breathable and easy to slip on and off. For cold weather, we suggest bringing muck boots. 

    Extra hat 

    Nothing is lost to the river more than hats! Strong wind gusts, big rapids, and intense water fights often end up with hats going in the water. Bring an extra ball cap just in case. And a hat with a strap is a great idea to help keep those pesky wind gusts from stealing your hat!

    Quick-Dry Underwear

    Nobody wants to sit in a puddle of water all day. Unfortunately swim suit material does not dry out quickly and often leads to an uncomfortable undercarriage. We suggest wearing lightweight underwear. Our guides suggest merino wool underwear because it is soft, smell resistant, and dries out quickly. 


    One of the greatest river companions you could have is a sarong: a long piece of cloth that can be wrapped or draped around the body. Sarongs are very versatile and have a thousand different uses. They especially come in handy for covering your legs or shoulders while sitting on a boat in order to protect them from the sun. On a hot day, you can dip them in the river and drape them over your body to cool off. They also work as a skirt or a changing towel in a pinch. You won’t want to leave this one out of your pack. 

    Cole showing us that sarongs are not just functional, but fashionable too!

    We are excited to pack our bags and get on the river with you! Additional information about packing can be found here: WWRE Packing List
    If you need us to bring any special items, or have any more questions about packing, then feel free to contact us here:
    Phone: (877) 426.7238
    Email: info@windingwatersrafting.com

  6. Going Pee at Night on the River

    Comments Off on How Much Beer?

    So, how much beer should you really bring on your next river trip?

    Allow us to tell you the story of every guide’s nightmare. A flipped boat? No. Forgetting the toilet paper? No. Forgetting the coffee? No. But that’s close. This is a far more haunting story. A story that goes back generations, and has been told over and over by guides and guests alike. This is the tale of the Accidentally Sober River Guest. It’s a sobering story, pun intended, about that person who didn’t bring enough beer on his river trip. Yet, despite its chilling message, the tale comes back to haunt our hallowed river corridors every year. 

    The tale usually starts one of two ways: a recent health kick, or a tragic miscommunication.

    In the first scenario, a guest decides to go on a detox before their trip. Dedicated to their noble cause, the guest brings little-to-no booze with them, thinking to themselves,“I can go 5 days without beer”. However, the hot temperatures, high spirits, and relaxation of a river trip will break just about any detox. Trust us on this one. 

    In the second scenario, a guest texts their friend the night before the trip: “Hey, can you grab some beer for me at the store tonight?” Then, their friend shows up to the put-in with one 6 pack for the entire trip. What follows is an ugly game of blaming and beer rationing. 

    No matter the cause, the tale always ends up ending the same way: asking the guides for their spare beers. Guides tend to be generous and understanding, especially when it comes to giving an empty-handed pal some beers. But trust us when we say, you don’t want to be that person. 

    If you have been in this situation before, don’t be ashamed, for you are not alone. In fact, you are in the company of many river guests before you who made the same mistake, going back over a hundred years. 

    The earliest known incident of the Accidentally Sober River Guest was in the early 1880s, when talk of ore and rich grasslands attracted brave homesteaders to the rugged wilderness of Hells Canyon. Among those were Alex and Bob Warnock, who set off to the banks of the Snake River in 1882 in order to develop mining claims and raise cattle. At the time, the only way to access Hells Canyon was by steep, and sometimes treacherous trails. Pack horses were required to bring in supplies, including booze. Not wanting to go a winter without libations, Alex and Bob packed a horse full of whiskey. When they reached a particularly hazardous section of the trail, the horse slipped and rolled, breaking all of the whiskey bottles along the way. To their misfortune, they spent the winter in sobriety. The creek where they camped became known as “Temperance Creek Ranch”, and the homestead can still be seen on the banks of the Snake River today. (Photo credit: Temperance Creek Facebook Page)

    How do I make sure that I don’t end up like the Accidentally Sober River Guest?

    Good question. Here are some general rules that will help you avoid being that guy.

    • Don’t rely on your friends to bring beer for you, buy your own.
    • Don’t go on a detox before a river trip.
    • Do overestimate your drinking ability, you’re on vacation after all.
    • Do use our handy-dandy drink order form. Let us bring beer to the river for you so you don’t forget.

    So, how do I know that I brought enough?

    A seasoned river guide once told me that you should bring one beer, per river mile, per person. For a 5 day trip in Hells Canyon, that would be 80 beers/person. For the Lower Salmon, it would be 62 beers/person. If math isn’t your thing, or that amount of beer sounds crazy, then go with your intuition. A good way to know that you have brought enough beer is when you start to question “am I bringing too much beer?”. . . Then buy one more 12 pack. 

    Not a beer drinker? The same rules apply to any of your favorite beverages. If you want it, then bring a lot of it. 

    Keepin’ it cold

    If you’re sitting there thinking, how am I going to keep all of this beer cold, in the backcountry, in a hot canyon, for 4-5 days? Don’t fret. We have got you covered. We bring plenty of coolers on each trip to keep all of your favorite drinks cold. We also bring a massive cooler specifically dedicated to ice. This means that you can still crack open a cold beer by the end of the trip. 

    Congrats! Now you are an expert in beverage-preparedness! Come enjoy a beer (or three) on the river with us. Book a trip with us today. 

  7. Peeing on a River Trip

    Comments Off on Top 10 Bonuses About a River Trip

    Going on a multi-day wilderness whitewater rafting excursion may not sound like the relaxing vacation you are dreaming of. Add in the excitement of rapids and one may be second guessing whether it could be a chance to unwind or a test of endurance. However, anyone who has been on a multi-day river trip will tell you that rafting is far from roughing it in the outdoors. At Winding Waters River Expeditions, we bring luxury to the river for you. Here are some surprising ways that a river rafting trip is the rejuvenating vacation you are looking for:

    • Camp is set up for you 

    Not only that, but camp is generally ready by the time you hit the beach. Each morning we send a boat ahead so that the crew can get an early start on setting up camp. By the time you arrive, you will be greeted by cold beverages, a comfortable camp chair, and a shady pavilion calling your name.

    • A comfortable night sleep

    Sleeping outdoors does not mean that you have to give up comfortable sleeping arrangements. We provide cots and thick foam pads to keep you off the ground and cozy. Plus, our large 4 and 5 person tents provide more than enough room for you, your gear, and your loved ones. We typically plan on having only 2 people per tent and if you are traveling solo you can expect to have a tent all to yourself. However, we suggest sleeping outside the tent, where you will be rewarded with stunning views of the milky way and the sound of trickling water to soothe you to sleep. 

    • Saying goodbye to your watch

    Before we set off on the river, one of our biggest suggestions is to leave your watch behind. The linear, mechanical time that governs us at home has no authority on a river rafting trip. Instead, we abide by “river time”, a cyclical, almost ethereal sense of time ruled by sun and the moon, stars and shadows, and the passing of water. On river time nobody can be early or late; there are no shifts, no meetings, and no deadlines. The river asks nothing of you but to be present. Once you are on river time, you won’t regret leaving your watch at home. 

    • The gourmet food 

    Our river rafting trips are held in the backcountry, but that doesn’t mean you will be eating canned chili and freeze-dried meals. At Winding Waters we make good food a priority. We start close to home, sourcing our ingredients from local farms and ranches in Wallowa Valley. Our dedicated chef carefully curates our menu, including a wide range of meals inspired by American, Asian, Mediterranean, and Latin American cuisine. Check out a few of our River Recipes. Our meals are then prepared fresh on the river by our guides, the likes of burgers with local corriente beef, creamy dutch oven mac’n’cheese, and freshly baked dutch oven fudge brownies. Have any dietary restrictions? Just let us know and we will do our best to accommodate. Come with a big appetite because you will not leave hungry. 

    • Icy cold beverages 

    One of the greatest pleasures in life is cracking open a cold beer by the water. That is especially true in a river canyon, where the dry summer heat begs for a cool drink. When the heat ramps up, we come prepared with a whole cooler dedicated to ice so that we can keep the cold beverages flowing. What? A cold beer on day 3, 4, or 5 of a rafting trip? Awesome.

    • Choose Your Own Adventure

    We bring a variety of boats on each trip to suit a variety of adventure seekers. Our inflatable kayaks and paddle raft are great for those who want an action-packed ride on the water. Looking for a more relaxing ride? Our larger rafts are the perfect fit. In these “princess” boats, the guide is completely in charge of the oars. Plus, we outfit the rafts with comfortable padded seating. That means you can sit back and relax while we do the work, no paddling required. 

    • Down time between rapids

    Sure, the rapids are fun and exciting, but some of the best memories are made in the flat water in between. The rivers we run are not the intense, fast paced, thrill-rides that you may normally associate with whitewater. Instead, we run rivers characterized by “pool & drop rapids”, which means that after every rapid comes a long pool of water where you can recover from the excitement and take in beautiful canyon views. These flat-water stretches are great for swimming, water gun fights, fishing or just laying back and basking in the sun. Whatever your idea of fun, the river provides it all. 

    • The river is accessible

    You don’t have to be a marathon runner to go on a trip with Winding Waters. If you can walk up a flight of stairs and sit in a bathtub by yourself, then you can go on a river rafting trip. In the past we have hosted folks from 5 years old to 83 years young. Don’t let your age or fitness level stop you from having an adventure on the water. 

    • Groover views

    Our leave no trace policy means that everything comes down the river with you, including your number twos. We make packing out waste easy by using a portable toilet that we fondly call the “groover”. The groover may not be the most luxurious bathroom experience, but we can guarantee that it will come with the most beautiful view. We take care to strategically position the groover at some of the most scenic areas of camp, so that you can enjoy incredible canyon views while on the throne. These open-air bathrooms are so gorgeous that you may start looking forward to your next stop at the loo. Follow this link for more intel about our Groover setup.

    • Ready-made play

    A river is one of the greatest playgrounds on earth. The water, sandy beaches, and fresh air make it a recipe for endless fun. Some of our favorite games include makeshift waterslides, volleyball, and bocce ball. Playing on the river is great for all ages, but if you are a parent looking to relax then we have got you covered. Our guides are certified play experts™, so you can leave it up to us to create fun and entertainment for your little ones. 

    Whether you are looking for endless adventure and action, or just looking to relax and enjoy the beautiful views that nature has to offer, a whitewater rafting trip is the perfect fit for you. At Winding Waters River Expeditions, we make the wilderness accessible and enjoyable for folks of all ages and abilities. Need any special accommodations? Just ask. We will do our best to supply it for you. For more information about what a river rafting trip could provide for you, check out the variety of trips we offer here: Guided Whitewater Rafting Trips

    Have more questions? Reach out to us directly!

  8. Joy in the Time of COVID

    Comments Off on The Future of Our Rivers

    Do You Love River Life? Help protect it for the future

    If a man fails to honor the rivers, he shall not gain the life from them.” ~Code of Hammurabi 1772 B.C.

    Rolling rapids that make you giggle, refreshing dips in the river, canyon walls bathed in soft light, the majesty of bighorn sheep at the river’s edge: these are a few of the sacred experiences that a river trip provides. These small-yet-powerful experiences are the reasons why we fall in love with the rivers we run, and the reasons that we come back. Now, imagine if the rapids were buried by dams, the water was too polluted to enjoy, and the wildlife was scarce. This devastating scene is what our rivers could look like without the relentless conservation efforts of river enthusiasts, conservationists and river protection agencies. Without them, river life as we know it would be non-existent. 

    History of River Conservation in the West

    The three rivers that we run today, the Snake river in Hells Canyon, the Lower Salmon, and the Grande Ronde, have not always been protected resources. Historically, the integrity of these rivers have been threatened by industrial interests, pollution, and dam projects. 

    One of the most controversial dam projects in U.S. history was proposed in 1958 on the Snake River in Hells Canyon. The Pacific Northwest Power Company aimed to build a dam located a few miles above the confluence of the Snake and Salmon rivers. The ambitious project, called the High Mountain Sheep Dam, was set to rise 670 feet above the riverbed of the Snake, so tall that fish passage would be impossible and anadromous fish runs in Hells Canyon would disappear. The dam would have buried the wild waters of Hells Canyon as we know it in a 50-mile long reservoir. However, competing dam proposals from the Washington Public Power Supply System and the Department of the Interior delayed the construction of the High Mountain Sheep Dam. The Pacific Northwest Power Company fought legal battles for the construction of the dam that led all the way up to the Supreme Court.

    As the legal battles for dam construction made headlines, concern for the future of Hells Canyon caught public interest. By the 1960’s, the environmental movement was on the rise and big industrial projects that threatened wild places started to become unpopular among the American public. The growing interest in environmental conservation and outdoor recreation swayed the Supreme Court to rule in favor of neither dam proposals, and instead rule in the favor of public interest. Ultimately, the dam was not constructed, but the movement to protect the Snake River in Hells Canyon did not stop there. The efforts to save this segment of river from damming inspired President Gerald Ford to designate Hells Canyon as a National Recreation Area in 1975, so that no industrial threat could endanger Hells Canyon in the future. 

    The fight to save Hells Canyon inspired a legacy of conservation efforts and birthed a generation of senators who put environmentalism at the core of their policies. These environmentally conscious senators helped usher in the Wild and Scenic Rivers act of 1968. This groundbreaking legislation legally recognized rivers as valuable in their natural state. The act honors rivers for their “outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values,” and protects them in their wild condition. Today, the Grande Ronde and Hells Canyon are designated as Wild and Scenic Rivers. The Lower Salmon, however, is not protected by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, and is one of the reasons you will see private housing and remote roads along the riverside. 

    Unfortunately, big wins for conservation often come at a big cost for caretakers of the land. The designation of Hells Canyon as a National Recreation Area forced out the ranchers and homesteaders whose livelihoods depended on the land. The rich history of homesteading in Hells Canyon can still be seen today in the form of hay barns, homes, and farming equipment that were left behind. However, their long legacy of land stewardship continues today. Ranchers are still permitted to graze their cattle in certain sections of Hells Canyon, a practice that has existed in the canyon for hundreds of years. Their holistic grazing practices promote the growth of native bunch grasses, which are important to maintaining biodiversity in the region. The rancher’s love and care for the land continues to be an integral part of land management in Hells Canyon today. 

    Current Conservation Issues

    Although we have seen some great wins in the history of river conservation, we still have a lot of work to do if we want to keep our rivers protected for the future. Our rivers are constantly in jeopardy from private industrial interests. Even if a river is protected, its tributaries may not be, making the protected river vulnerable to industrial threats upstream. 

    This is the case with the Stibnite Gold Project, proposed earlier this year on the South Fork Salmon. Midas Gold, a Canadian mining company, plans to create one of the nation’s largest gold mines, located on the headwaters of the South Fork Salmon. The South Fork Salmon flows into the Main Salmon River and connects to the majority of the Salmon River Watershed. If completed, the mine will leach toxic sludge into the South Fork. Much of the commercially run stretch of the Salmon, including the beloved lower salmon where we run trips, is downstream on the South Fork confluence and will suffer from the pollution. New private interests like the Stibnite Gold Project are why we must be vigilant in our advocacy for clean and free-flowing rivers. You can learn more about the Mining Project and take action to stop it here: Save the South Fork Salmon

    Who Benefits from River Conservation?

    River conservation does not only benefit us river rats. The wildlife and biodiversity that are unique to river corridors are also enjoyed by hunters and anglers. River conservation not only protects the water, but also the land around it, allowing wildlife a space to thrive. On the rivers we run, the surrounding canyons are popular among hunters for its wide range of game, from small pheasants known as chukars to big game such as elk and bighorn sheep. River corridors provide wildlife protection from harsh weather, and allow them to access food and water in the scarcity of winter. Keeping our river corridors protected is critical to maintaining healthy ecosystems so that the long tradition of hunting in these areas can survive. 

    River conservation is also critically important to anglers who rely on healthy fish populations. Historically, our native fish populations have suffered from the introduction of dams and industrial pollution in our rivers. River conservation prevents the construction of new dams, which allows fish safe passage and protection from predators, and sets clean water standards so that fish are safe to eat. 

    These conservation efforts are particularly important to indigenous groups such as the Nez Perce, who have fished the waters of the Snake and Salmon for thousands of years. Fish harvesting has long been an important part of Nez Perce diet and culture. However, historically important native fish such as salmon and steelhead are currently listed as threatened or endangered. Clean and free-flowing rivers are critically important to conserving these populations that have long been culturally significant to the Nez Perce. Safeguarding the treaty rights and fishing practices of indigenous groups is yet another reason why river conservation is so important in our area. 

    Champions of Conservation

    Victories in river conservation would not be possible without the relentless work of non-profit groups like American Whitewater and the Western Rivers Conservancy. These organizations advocate for the health of our rivers, and help keep them in public hands for public use. Without them, our rivers would not be the pristine and remote wilderness landscapes that we enjoy today. 

    At Winding Waters River Expeditions, we have developed a partnership with the Western Rivers Conservancy. Every year we donate the proceeds from our Music for Wild Places trips to their cause. Their work depends on funding from people who love rivers and care about their health and protection for the future. If you are interested in keeping this important work going, you can donate here: Western Rivers Conservancy, American Whitewater.

    Other than advocacy work, one of the best ways to protect our river corridors is to use them! Being a river recreationist is a means of conserving them as wild places. The more people who develop a connection with these rivers, the more likely we are to keep them protected. So, invite your friends and extended family on a trip, and share these beautiful places with those you love. Come and enjoy what the long legacy of river conservation has to offer. 

  9. White Water River Spotlight: The Grande Ronde River

    Comments Off on What We Use: An Overview of Whitewater Rafting Gear

    At Winding Waters River Expeditions, we take the gear we use seriously. The rivers we raft are powerful, but with the right equipment and safety precautions, they’re a whole lot of fun.

    Read on to learn the gear we use on our white water rafting trips on the Snake, Salmon, and Grande Ronde Rivers!



    All of our rafts are well maintained and intended for use in the exciting rivers that we raft.

    While there are many types of rafts, the types we use are self-bailing, framed rafts. These rafts are designed to comfortably fit the groups we take out on the river and are very stable for our guests. 

    As mentioned above, these rafts are self-bailing. They’re designed to remove any water that gets in them on their own. Developed in the 90’s, self-bailing rafts have created a way more pleasant rafting experience. Prior to their invention, you’d have to physically use buckets and pumps to get water out of the raft. This not only led to a more uncomfortable experience, but also weighed the raft down and reduced stability in rapids.

    4 key parts to a white water raft:

    • • The raft: Made from rugged, durable materials, rafts are made into their oval-ish shape through many different inflatable air chambers. This ensures if one breaks the raft will still remain safe until the raft is patched. 
    • • Frame: This is the metal frame that holds the 2 primary oars (which are controlled by the guide) and has a seat or slanting board where your guide will sit. 
    • • Thwarts: Used in our paddle rafts, these cross tubes of air add stability to the inflated raft and help keep its shape. They’re also useful for those not in the front of the raft to help keep them secure.


    Oar Boats vs Paddle Rafts

    In our oar boats, the guide sits in the center of the raft and rows, controlling the boat 100% through rapids while our guests sit in the front and/or back and hang on. In a paddle raft, both the guide and the guests will provide power for moving the boat. While paddle rafting, the guide will be steering through tricky rapids and have control over the raft. The guests will also have their own paddle. While the guide will be the driver of the raft, you and the other guests will be the motor that powers it through the river.


    Personal Safety Equipment

    While white water rafting would not be possible without the rafts and oars, the most important piece of white water rafting gear is undoubtedly a personal flotation device, also known as a life jacket.

    No matter how good a swimmer or rafter you are, life jackets are necessary to ensure your safety. While we’ve all seen life jackets throughout our lives, PFDs made specifically for white water rafting are necessary for a safe trip. The white water grade life jackets will make sure that if you are to fall out of the raft, you’ll be kept floating despite the white water. We provide comfortable, clean, and whitewater rated personal flotation devices on all of our trips.

    We also provide helmets for our inflatable kayakers and paddle rafters.



    While not a piece of gear that’s needed to physically go down the river, groovers are necessary for multi-day trips on the rivers we raft.

    To protect the ecology, cleanliness, and wildlife of our rivers, we’re legally required by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to pack out everything we bring into the river. Yes that’s right, even our own human waste.

    While this is an unsightly topic, groovers are portable toilets designed to make the process a whole lot less icky. 

    At Winding Waters River Expedition, we do everything possible to make sure the bathroom experience out in the wilderness is as comfortable as possible for our guests. Part of this is setting up and cleaning the groover, as well as providing full washing facilities for when you’re using the groover. We even have a “key” system to ensure you’re provided with adequate privacy. 


    Dry bags

    One of the most crucial pieces of gear when you’re spending time out on the water is a quality dry bag. 

    These rugged waterproof sacks are used to keep your belongings dry throughout your white water adventure. 

    When you raft with us, each guests will receive: 

    • 1 large dry bag (127 liters; 18″ diameter by 31″ high)
    • 1 small dry bag (22 liters; 10″ diameter by 20″ high)

    Your large bag will fit a large duffel, as well as your sleeping bag and pillow. We recommend that you bring your own sleeping bag, but do offer them for those without their own. This bag will go on a cargo raft and will not be accessible throughout the day.

    Your small dry bag will be for personal items. You’ll bring this bag with you daily and will have it with you on the raft. 


    Helpful gear you should bring

    At Winding Water River Expedition, we have you covered with all of the professional rafting and camping gear you’ll need for the trip.

    There are some items that we always recommend for your trip down the river, and have provided a helpful packing list for just this purpose. Most of these items are to improve your experience and ensure you’re comfortable on the water. Some of the most key items include:

    • Sun block and chapstick 
    • Sunglasses and eyeglass holders
    • Rainsuit or poncho 
    • Long sleeve pants and shirts, quick dry if possible
    • Swimwear 
    • River sandals (our guides love Chacos)
    • Wool socks
    • Sun hat and warm knit hat


    Book your river adventure today!

    At Winding Waters River Expeditions, we raft some of the top white water rivers in the United States. Our trips are fully catered with gourmet meals and you’ll be rafting with some of the best guides in the Northwest. Take a look at some of our trips and reach out to us with any questions you have! 

    If you’ve already booked a trip with our team, we’re looking forward to seeing you out in the land of the winding waters!

  10. All About Rafting the Snake River

    Comments Off on Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Winding Waters River Expeditions

    Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update from WWRE (last updated July 29, 2020)

    All of us here at Winding Waters River Expeditions are monitoring the Coronavirus situation constantly and will be updating this page as changes occur, we learn more, and new travel advisories are released.

    The following information is provided here:

    • -A message from owners Paul and Penny Arentsen
    • -Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) about the current Coronavirus situation relative to our whitewater rafting adventures

    As the owners of Winding Waters River Expeditions, we’ve greatly enjoyed sharing the adventure of whitewater rafting with our many guests. We understand in the current climate that a rafting trip in the outdoors and in pristine wilderness environments is exactly what many folks need right now. We also understand that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation is an entirely new one and we, like many of you, are working to understand and navigate what this means for travel today.

    We want to reassure all of you that our top priority is, as always, the health and well-being of our guests and our crew. We are all in this together. Our crew is part of our family and you, our guests, are an extension of that family. Paul and I want to assure you that we’re doing our best to make sound decisions that are fair and in the best interest of all involved. Our decisions include the advice of front line medical professionals, official government channels, past lessons learned, and the daily changing climate of the situation.

    We would like to thank you for navigating these times with us. The outdoors is and always will be the place many of us seek to recharge and find solace in the world. As we personally are keeping abreast of this situation between homeschool lessons with our kids’ Linden & Britton, we realize the world has changed dramatically for all of us. And we’re uncertain for how long all of this will last. Thank you to the many helpers out there, from our healthcare workers to the employees wiping down surfaces and keeping the shelves stocked with needed supplies. We appreciate your trust in us and we’ll make it through these uncharted waters together. We will update this post as more information comes to light relative to our 2020 Rafting Season. If you have any questions or comments, please reach out to us at 877.426.7238 or email us. Peace and health be with all of you.

    ~Paul & Penny Arentsen

    FAQ’s About the Current Coronavirus Situation

    Please know that we will be updating these answers as we learn more hourly & daily regarding this virus
    Are you still operating your trips?
    At this time we are taking things a week at a time. We have rescheduled our trips through mid-June. Unless conditions prevent operations, we will be running our mid-June through September trips as scheduled. Federal, state, and local protocols are still evolving and we are following the Oregon and Idaho Phased reopening for our ability to operate for the 2020 rafting season.

    For information on the Oregon Phased Reopening Plan, visit this site: https://govstatus.egov.com/or-covid-19/.

    What should I do if I’m booked on a trip but health concerns make me wonder if I should travel?
    We understand that we are traveling in uncharted waters and your health and well-being is our greatest concern. We, like you, are sitting tight and watching the ever changing environment surrounding this virus and its effect on all us. In these surreal times, we are deviating from our standard cancellation policy. If you decide not to travel due to health concerns, we suggest one of 2 paths:

    • -First, if you purchased travel insurance that we recommended, check your policy for coverage. Here is the link to Travelex Insurance and coverage relating to the Coronavirus.
    • -Second, if you are not covered by travel insurance, we will provide a transferable credit worth 100% of your trip payment to date to be applied to any future trip. The future trip reservation will be subject to our standard cancellation policy.

    Will travel insurance protect my vacation investment? 
    It’s best to get information directly from the travel insurance companies. Here is coverage information from Travelex Insurance as it relates to travel affected by the Coronavirus. With the current Coronavirus situation, you may want to consider the “cancel for any reason” (CFAR) coverage. This coverage must be purchased within 21 days of paying your initial deposit.

    What precautions does WWRE take during trips & will new ones be implemented to help prevent spreading the virus?
    On every rafting adventure, we will continue to implement sanitation procedures that follow best-practices and new protocols as they develop, set forth by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and state and local agencies. For the CDC guidelines, visit this site: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html.

    Each family, couple, or group of friends on a trip is considered a ‘Pod’. We will operate under the assumption that pods are comfortable being closer than 6′ together. We will plan on having 1 pod per boat with 1 guide. We have figured out a boat arrangement that allows for 6′ of spacing between the pod and our guide.

    Our guides will be wearing face masks in the kitchen while preparing and serving meals.

    What if I am unable to travel at the time of my trip departure due to a travel ban, or restrictions imposed by federal, state or local government authorities?
    If an official travel ban has been issued that does not allow you to travel to or from your point of origin, we have 2 options for you:

    • -First, if you purchased the recommended travel insurance, check your policy for coverage. Here is the link to Travelex Insurance and coverage relating to the Coronavirus.
    • -Second, if you are not covered by travel insurance, we are deviating from our standard cancellation policy and will provide a transferable credit worth 100% of your trip payment to date to be applied to any future trip. The future trip reservation will be subject to our standard cancellation policy.

    What if WWRE is unable to operate during the date(s) of my trip due to Federal, state, or local mandates?
    If we are unable to run our trips due to a closure by federal, state, or local authority, governmental intervention, our own decision based on the health and well-being of our guests, crew, and all humanity, or any other reason, we offer you the following option which deviates from our standard cancellation policy:

    • -A credit equal to 110% of the amount you have already paid to date for the actual tour (not including services provided by other companies such as air carriers, hotels, etc.).  This credit can be used for another trip to be redeemed at any future date (no expiration date). This credit is also transferable to a friend or family member. Once an alternate trip is booked, it is subject to standard cancellation policies.

    If I cancel or reschedule my departure, or WWRE needs to reschedule my trip, will WWRE cover my costs for pre or post-trip flights, car rentals, hotels or other associated trip expenses?
    In the event of any cancellation or rescheduled trip, you are responsible for cancellation or change fees related to rental cars, pre or post-trip flights, hotels, etc..

    What if I’m considering making a new reservation?  
    Please call us, we’re here to answer all of your questions and discuss options.

    Where can I find trusted information about Coronavirus?
    We believe it’s important to stay well-informed from trusted sources to have a complete understanding regarding this global health risk.

    To this end, we rely on the following news and other health-related sources to stay current with the situation. Some of our sources, with accurate and measured information, include the following:

  11. 6 Under the Radar Adventure Destinations in The United States

    Comments Off on What to Pack in Your Day Bag

    We love taking folks down the river for their first whitewater adventure, or their fiftieth. We understand if you are new to rafting you may have some questions, especially about what to packdry bags

    When you arrive for our pre-trip planning meeting you will be given two bags — one large bag and one small bag. The smaller bag will become your day bag or what we like to call your “river purse”. Your day bag will hold all the items you will want access to throughout the day. Your larger bag will be buried by other bags on the gear boat and inaccessible when not at camp. 

    The following is a list of items you may want to include in your day bag:



    And lots of it. You will want to regularly reapply sunscreen throughout the day, especially if you are sweating or jumping in and out of the water. Alternatively, you can wear layers of sun protection (see above) if you do not want to bother with lotions. If you are fair-skinned, don’t be shy and combine the two. 

    Sun Protection

    Sun protection differs from sunscreen. It includes long-sleeved t-shirts, pants, hats, sunglasses, umbrellas, sarongs, and handkerchiefs. When rafting you are exposed to the sun for long periods of time. Even with copious amounts of sunscreen, you can still become sunburnt. It is best to be prepared with items to protect you from the sun. We recommend bringing a backup hat and pair of sunglasses in the event of loss in an out-of-raft experience. 

    Rain Gear

    The weather can be unpredictable and we like to be prepared for whatever comes our way. Packing rain gear in your day bag will ensure you stay warm in the event of rain. It won’t do you any good to pack it in your larger bag that is buried on the gear boat. Even if rain is not in the forecast it is wise to pack along. Both rain jackets and rain pants are useful, or we have wetsuits we can provide if you would like an additional warm layer. 

    Medications and Toiletries

    You can still go rafting, even if you have a medical condition. All of our boats are equipped with first-aid kits to treat minor injuries. If you require the use of an inhaler, EpiPen, insulin or other medications please be sure to carry those with you in your day bag. It would be useful to let your boat captain or fellow passenger know where they are located prior to launch in the event you need help accessing them.

    Additionally, we do provide feminine hygiene products in our groover setup at camp but they will likely be unavailable while on the water. Be prepared with any personal toiletry items you need while traveling down the river. 

    Camera/Cell Phone

    If you decide to bring along your camera or cell phone, we recommend investing in a waterproof, hard shell carrying case (such as a Pelican case). You can choose to keep it in your day bag but keep in mind that it does absorb impact and has the risk of becoming a floating item or submerged in water. If you have any concerns about potential damage, we suggest keeping your expensive technology packed away until you reach camp or leaving it behind in a lockbox at the boathouse. 

    Backup Itemsrafting trip packing

    You assume the risk of losing any number of items to the powers of the river. Being prepared with back up items in your day bag is always a welcomed idea.

    If you have any further questions about what or how to pack you will have a chance to ask plenty of questions at the pre-trip meeting the night before you launch. Be sure to visit the boathouse store for any items you may have forgotten to bring. For specific questions, always feel free to call us. We look forward to seeing you soon.

  12. I Have a Medical Condition. Can I Still Go Rafting?

    Comments Off on Learning to Kayak on the Salmon River with Will Howerton

    WWRE is bringing back an old favorite this summer! We will be offering a revamped kayak course July 16-20, 2019 in partnership with Central Oregon Whitewater Academy (COWA). The trip will take place on the lower portion of the Salmon River known as The Canyons. In just 5 days and 53 miles Will Howerton, owner and operator of COWA, and his crew will equip you with the skillset to confidently run class III-IV rapids.

    Will Howerton has over a decade of experience in running whitewater in both Idaho and Oregon. He got first got his feet wet on the banks of the Main Payette river outside of Boise, Idaho and was instantly hooked to the sport of kayaking. To learn more about Will, his past boating and guiding experience and what the WWRE course will offer, read on.

    Where are you from?

    Born and raised in Wendell, Idaho about an hour and a half east of Boise.

    How long have you been kayaking?

    I have spent about 12 years on the water. I started getting into whitewater with my uncle when I was 19. The first time I went out on an inflatable kayak and flipped in the rapids on the Main of the Payette like three or four times on the Main of the Payette. I thought it was the most fun thing I had ever done and I was instantly hooked. I went every weekend with him.

    In 2011 there was a flood year and I saw all the crazy kayaking that was happening and wanted a piece of it. I started to take kayaking more seriously by going to roll classes and going down the Main of the Payette with some other beginners. From that year I went from not knowing how to kayak at all to running some straightforward class V rapids.

    What inspired you to teach kayaking?

    I worked for Cascade Raft and Kayak in Idaho and they put on a lot of kids camps. All the kids always looked like they were having so much fun. The instructors seemed to actually enjoy their work, 100 percent of the time. It seemed a lot less intense than guiding and a much more casual atmosphere.

    More than anything I was inspired by my mentors. They truly wanted to see you become a confident kayaker and they wanted you to succeed. I wanted to teach others how to kayak and share with others how fast you can be a class III or IV kayaker. It is common for most people to only kayak class III whitewater and never progress beyond that.

    What makes the Salmon River an ideal location for the WWRE kayak course?

    There are shorter, bigger rapids that can be more thrilling and also more forgiving allowing for plenty of recovery time. This creates a platform advantageous to mastering beginner and intermediate skills. It is almost like a theme park effect. The rapids can be short and exhilarating and then you have a chance to catch your breath and recap what just happened. It is similar to the Payette River system I grew up on, in that way.

    The dynamic eddy lines of the salmon river are fun and forgiving for the beginner. Having rapids that advance with your skill set is hard to find. The Canyons section of the Salmon River is a near perfect example of this. Big water and big fun is the perfect way to describe what we have in store for the participants.

    Pool and drop rapids have advantages for beginners like being able to see a clear line down the rapid, allowing you to follow and mimic the instructors or other attendees before you join the fun.

    Do you have to have strong upper body fitness to take this course?

    Absolutely not. It is always beneficial to have more physical fitness but I would say stamina is more helpful than anything else.

    What would you like for participants to know before showing up for the course?

    This program is designed for very first time beginners to intermediate kayakers who may be wanting to work on their technique. There are no prerequisites for the class — just a desire to learn and have fun.

    What do you hope participants leave with from this course?

    I want them to be confident that they won’t need another kayak lesson for a long time. That is why it is designed to be a five-day course and not just two. It really makes a difference.

    How do you help someone that has flipped their boat or in an emergency situation?

    The number one thing you get from a guided trip is safety. Our instructors abide by a 10 to 15-second rule — at least one guide will always be within a distance of 10 to 15 seconds from your boat at all times. We are trained in being able to pull you right side up in a variety of different conditions.

    Before each rapid, we decide a line up of how we will enter the rapid. It depends on who is feeling the most confident and varying skill levels. I can read their faces, their technique, energy level, and their fear. For example, perhaps someone was doing great at the beginning of the day but are overly tired at the final rapid of the day. I will simply have them placed closer to an instructor in the lineup.

    Our goal is to have a ratio of 1:4 instructor to a student, at the largest. As I said, safety is the number one thing you are paying for in a guided program.

    What is the most challenging part of learning how to kayak? How to do you overcome it?

    Focus is really difficult for most people. Being able to focus on a reference point or goal of where you are trying to get to when there is something intense like whitewater stealing your attention. It’s similar to skiing. If you look at the tree, you’ll hit the tree, but it is natural to look at the tree. You want to focus on the path you want to take.

    How do you help clients overcome fear?

    I always tell people, “fear is in your head but the technique is what is real and that is what will get you safely down the rapid.”

    You are not going to be forced to do anything if you are afraid. I think it is important to remember that you can almost always walk around a rapid, or you can get in an inflatable kayak or a raft.

    What is the most rewarding part of learning how to kayak?

    I would have to say learning how to use the energy of the river. Most people have a tendency to use their muscles when they first start paddling and it can feel like the river is pushing you around. Once you learn the technique, communicating with the river with your boat and your body you can gain energy from the river in addition to your physical effort.

    If you have ever been interested in learning how to kayak, this is your chance. COWA can provide kayaks to those who need them and beginners are encouraged to join. COWA instructors are hand selected and all have a similar teaching style to provide consistent instruction throughout the course. Book your spot today!

  13. What it Takes to Be a River Guide: An Interview with Trip Leader Robin Pace

    Comments Off on Why a Multi-day Whitewater River Trip is a Chance to Connect

    Give your family the gift of a family vacation where all the planning has been done for you. A multi-day whitewater rafting trip offers all the perks of being on vacation with your loved ones, with none of the hassle.

    On a Winding Waters River Expeditions trip, you have the opportunity to spend quality time with your family members because the guides at WWRE can be trusted with all the cooking, cleaning and transport. The memories you leave with from the depths of the Snake River in Hells Canyon, the beautiful white sand beaches of the Salmon River, or the lazy meanders of the Grande Ronde River will be shared for years to come. It is something that will create new bonds and strengthen old ones.

    It allows everyone to revisit the wild pieces of themselves that can get lost in our busy day-to-day schedules. Unstructured time, for both children and adults, is important for the mind, body and soul. Allowing your children or your significant other to see you as your most authentic self fosters a deeper connection between both of you. After all, how can you beat building sandcastles during the day or laying underneath the Milky Way at night with the people you love?

    Creating Lifelong Memories

    You will not easily forget watching your child catch their first fish or run their first rapid. A multi-day rafting trip not only offers you the chance to witness it but to talk about the experience around an open fire together later that night. Getting to relive those moments in the years to come can take you right back to the times on the river you once shared together.

    Enjoy watching your children spend quality time together without the distractions of technology and day-to-day life. Commonly, we see bonds between siblings grow deeper with each day spent on the river. There are so many things to do together, helping to find shared interests in the outdoors. A shared outdoor experience has shown to be positive to the health and growth of many different types of relationships, even between siblings of varying ages.


    The environment and comforts of being on a river trip generate new stories and provide an opportunity to share old ones. It can bring up past experiences that you had with your own family — memories you otherwise wouldn’t have remembered.

    Oral histories are becoming lost as we spend more time on our phones and at our computers. By removing those technologies, the art of storytelling comes alive once again. Afterall, who doesn’t enjoy a good fish tale?

    Make sure to bring along a journal on your trip to write down the memories you don’t want to forget. You will re-read them in the future. It gives you a chance to share your experience on the river with your future children or grand kids before taking them on their first river trip.

    Get on the River

    Giving the gift of quality river time to your family is one of the greatest gifts that you can offer. Sit back on a raft, enjoy the scene and listen to the giddy screams as you survive another splashy rapid. WWRE will take care of the details, so that you don’t have to.

    Don’t limit yourself or your family to a single trip. We have many families, couples and groups who return year after year and look forward to spending that quality time on the river together. Book a trip to schedule some committed time with your loved ones today.

  14. The Brain and Nature

    Comments Off on Happy 50th Anniversary Wild & Scenic Rivers Act!

    “While progress should never come to a halt, there are many places it should never come to at all.” — Paul Newman

    National Wild & Scenic Rivers Act

    2018 marks the 50th year of the National Wild & Scenic Rivers Act. We have this act (and Congress) to thank for looking ahead and preserving public access and the environment for today and tomorrow. The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System was created by Congress (Public Law 90-542; 16 U.S.C. 1271 et seq.) to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations. Rivers are broken into 3 classifications: wild, scenic, or recreational.

    Wild River Areas – Those rivers or sections of rivers that are free of impoundments and generally inaccessible except by trail, with watersheds or shorelines essentially primitive and waters unpolluted. These represent vestiges of primitive America.

    Scenic River Areas – Those rivers or sections of rivers that are free of impoundments, with shorelines or watersheds still largely primitive and shorelines largely undeveloped, but accessible in places by roads.

    Recreational River Areas – Those rivers or sections of rivers that are readily accessible by road or railroad, that may have some development along their shorelines, and that may have undergone some impoundment or diversion in the past.

    NE Oregon Rivers

    In our neck of the woods, we have 3 rivers with sections that been designated one of these classifications:

    Snake River in Hells Canyon: December 1, 1975: ‘Wild’ (32.5 miles from Hells Canyon Dam to Pittsburg Landing) ‘Scenic’ (34.4 miles to below Dug Bar) Total — 66.9 miles.
    “The outstandingly remarkable values of the Wild and Scenic Snake River are scenery, recreation, geology, wildlife, fisheries, cultural resources, vegetation/botany and ecology.”

    Grande Ronde River: October 28, 1988: ‘Wild’ (26.4 miles from the confluence with the Wallowa River) ‘Recreational’ (17.4 miles to Oregon-Washington border) Total — 43.8 miles.
    “The Grande Ronde River is located in northeast Oregon and flows through lands that are privately owned and others administered by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service. At 43.8 miles (70.5 km) in length, the federally protected section begins at the confluence with the Wallowa River near Rondowa, and ends near the Oregon-Washington border. The Grande Ronde River is a nationally renowned sport fishery, one of the top three in the region. The mainstem and its major tributaries provide spawning and rearing habitat for wild and hatchery stock of spring Chinook, fall Chinook, summer steelhead and rainbow trout. Fishing is excellent even late in the season after the water levels have receded.”

    Wallowa River: July 23, 1996: ‘Recreational’ (10 miles from Minam to the confluence of the Grande Ronde & Wallowa (Rondowa)) “Approximately 10 miles in length, the river is classified as recreational. It offers incredible fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing and floatboating, as well as a state park for camping.”

    Join us on a rafting trip on any one of these rivers to experience why the National Wild & Scenic River Act took a shine to this part of Oregon.

  15. 8 Tips to Improve Your Fly Casting

    Comments Off on Private Charter Rafting Trips

    A private charter is a rafting trip for you and your group – and no one else. This summer was filled with family reunions, milestone birthday celebrations, anniversaries, bachelor parties, corporate retreats, and old friend gatherings.

    Imagine: you and your group have a private playground and professional guide crew all to yourselves. Have a special crew you want to travel with? Is your company ready for a team-building trip or developing new strategies that need complete focus from your crew? Escape all distractions – electronics, schedules, and meal planning. Let us take care of everything and focus on what is important. Now is the time to round up the troops and reserve your special private trip with us.

    For more information, visit our Custom Charter Trip page. For details on how our Charter Trips work, please Contact Us. Since these trips are special, we work closely with you to tailor the adventure to your wishes. There is no better way to create life-long memories.

  16. Wilderness & Sublimity: the Conservation of Hells Canyon

    Comments Off on How to Plan for a Fall/Winter Steelhead Fly Fishing Trip in Eastern Oregon

    If you’re a fly fisherman, you’ve probably got a few dream trips on your bucket list. Tarpon and Bonefish in the Florida Keys, Trout in Montana or Colorado, or maybe a trip deep into the Amazon? But if you’re really looking for a one of a kind adventure, make sure you don’t overlook a Fall or Winter Steelhead fly fishing trip in Eastern Oregon.

    At Winding Waters River Expeditions, we might be a bit biased, but we think our home waters of the Wallowa and Grand Ronde Rivers can hold their own when it comes to the best fly fishing spots in the entire world.
    In today’s post, we’ll talk more about how to plan a successful Steelhead trip to our neck of the woods.


    When is Steelhead Season in Eastern Oregon?

    Our steelhead trips on the Grand Ronde launch in late October and early November. This is the height of Steelhead season and offers our anglers the best chance to catch these incredible fish!


    Should You Take a 1-Day or Multi-Day Steelhead Trip?

    If you can find the time, we guarantee you won’t regret taking a multi-day guided Steelhead trip in the wilderness of Eastern Oregon. Compared to a single-day (or half-day) trip you’ll get to fish more remote water, get away from heavily pressured water, and have more time and better opportunities to catch the fish of a lifetime.

    In addition, a multi-day Steelhead trip is more than just a guided fishing trip, it’s a true once-in-a-lifetime adventure. At Winding Waters River Expeditions, we guide anglers from all over the world who travel here just for the Steelhead fishing!

    The best part about our fully guided trips? We take care of everything, from setting up camp to cooking meals and putting you on the most productive stretches of the Grande Ronde and Wallowa Rivers. Throughout this post, we’ll


    Check the Weather

    Before you leave for Eastern Oregon, check the local weather! Generally speaking, here’s what to expect in the Joseph, Oregon area during October and November:

    • Daily High Temperature: 45-60 degrees
    • Daily Low Temperature: 25-33 degrees
    • Precipitation: Virtually none (maybe 3” total during October and November)
    • Wind: Generally calm but pressure changes can produce breezy conditions

    Fly Fishing Gear

    When you book a trip with our experienced fly-fishing guide, we’ll provide all the gear you need. The only thing you’ll need to bring is a valid Oregon fishing license. You can purchase your license online or from a variety of local shops.

    Many fly fishermen love to tie their own flies and we don’t blame them! It’s incredibly rewarding to catch fish on flies you’ve tied yourself. If you’re planning on tieing a few flies for fall and winter steelhead, our favorite patterns include:

    • Magneto Stonefly – Watch this video and learn to tie one!
    • Beadhead Copper Johns – Simple and effective. What else is there to say?
    • Egg Patterns – A real cinch to tie, but they’re a classic for a reason: they catch fish!
    • Marabou Leeches – Great movement in the water really attracts trophy Steelhead.

    Most Steelhead patterns will be in sizes 6-10 (bigger flies for bigger fish) with egg and stonefly nymph imitators running a bit smaller. Consider tying some patterns with a tungsten beadhead to help the flies get down the water column. Tungsten or copper wire can also be used to give extra weight to a fly.

    Read more about our favorite Fall and Winter Steelhead patterns.


    What to Wear & Pack


    • Warm hat – A beanie or other warm hat that covers your ears
    • Windproof/waterproof outer layer – Gore-Tex is popular (although pricey) but any high-quality breathable waterproof and windproof jacket are ideal.
    • Fleece or wool mid-layer – Look for materials that dry quickly, wick moisture away from your skin, and will keep you warm even if they get wet. That means no cotton!
    • Warm baselayers – Even as the day warms up and you remove your jacket or mid-layer, warm base layers will keep you from getting chilly.


    • Sunglasses – Even in Fall and Winter, polarized sunglasses really help anglers see through the glare on the surface of the water.
    • Wading Staff – Coldwater plus slippery rocks can lead to a miserable, cold wet day. A wading staff (in addition to high-quality boots) can help you keep your footing in the river.
    • Dry Bag – A small dry bag is great for keeping your phone, camera, and other electronics dry and protected from the elements.
    • Head Lamp – The sun sets early in Eastern Oregon, so a headlamp can be a big help!


    What You Don’t Need to Bring

    When fishing with the guides at Winding Waters River Expedition, we take care of nearly everything! You just need to show up and be ready to have a great time (and as we mentioned earlier, don’t forget your Oregon fishing license!).

    Our multi-day Steelhead fishing trips include:

    • Transportation to and from the river from Joseph, OR
    • Waders and boots
    • Rods, reels, lines, tippets
    • Flies (but you’re welcome to bring your own)
    • Camping gear
    • Heated wall tents
    • Warm sleeping bags
    • Comfy beds

    And don’t forget about the food!

    We prepare all meals, including delicious shore lunches and dinner by the campfire.

    Menus might include:

    • Breakfast: Sante Fe Cakes
    • Lunch: Daily Sandwich Bar
    • Dinner: Wild Caught Salmon on a cedar plank, Dutch Oven Stuffed peppers, Beet and Arugula Salad.

    Not to brag, but we take great pride in preparing restaurant quality, gourmet meals right on the water! There are no cans of Vienna sausage and Saltine crackers on our menu!


    Ready For the Adventure of a Lifetime?

    If you’ve been thinking about a Fall or Winter Steelhead trip, read more about the trips we offer. Our guides have been fishing these waters their whole lives and we take great pride in putting our anglers on the biggest, hardest-fighting Steelhead!

    You’ll love your trip with Winding Waters River Expeditions!

  17. Activities for Non-Fisherman near Joseph, OR

    Comments Off on What To Expect On A Whitewater Rafting Adventure

    Whitewater rafting in beautiful Joseph, Oregon is a thrilling experience for young and old alike. From spending time in the outdoors and witnessing amazing views, to flying through rapids and making new friendships– whitewater rafting is an adventure you won’t soon forget.

    You may have questions about what to expect during your whitewater rafting experience. Or perhaps you’re interested in this activity but question whether it’s right for you.

    Below we’ll outline the most important things to know about a whitewater rafting trip. By the end of this post, you’ll have the knowledge to feel confident and excited about this outdoor adventure.

    Experienced Guides

    Choosing an experienced whitewater rafting company with the necessary skills, knowledge, and licenses is key to a safe and enjoyable whitewater rafting tour.

    As you evaluate a tour company, look for signs that guides have multiple years of experience and training in these areas:

    • First Aid
    • CPR
    • Swift water rescue techniques
    • Some EMT training

    Skilled rafting guides are the base for a great whitewater rafting company. These guides will make your trip safe and enjoyable.

    A Thorough Safety Orientation

    First-time whitewater rafters won’t get thrown into the thick of it cold turkey! Before setting off, your tour guide will provide a complete safety orientation. Expect instructions on the proper way to hold your paddle, where to sit in the boat, and how to listen to your guide.

    Reputable whitewater rafting guides know the rivers like the back of their hands. They’ll know the safest routes and spots to avoid. Your guides will also know how to respond in an emergency situation.

    What To Expect

    Your Gear Will Be Provided

    All necessary rafting and camping gear (if applicable) should be provided by your tour company. Typically, this includes a dry bag for your supplies, a life jacket, and a helmet. Pack a few personal items and everything else will be taken care of.

    If you have questions about what supplies or gear you need to bring along, just ask. In general, avoid over packing or bringing anything you don’t want to lose or get wet.

    An Adrenaline Rush

    Whitewater rafting may not have the same fear factor as jumping out of a plane or bungee jumping, but those bubbly rapids will definitely get your heart pounding! Choose a tour that fits your thrill level by looking at the classification of each run.

    Just like a ski slope, rapids vary in their intensity. American Whitewater classifies rapids as follows:

    • Class II (novice): Straightforward rapids with wide and clear channels. Some maneuvering may be required.
    • Class III (intermediate): Rapids with moderate, irregular waves which may be difficult to avoid. Some complex maneuvers in tight passages may be required. Strong eddies and powerful currents are often present.
    • Class IV (advanced): Intense and powerful yet predictable rapids which require accurate boat handling. You may encounter large, unavoidable waves.

    With an experienced guide, you can enjoy the exhilaration of crashing whitewater knowing you’re in good hands.

    You’re Going To Get Wet

    This should be obvious, but don’t expect to stay dry. Getting splashed or even drenched by rapids is part of the experience. And remember, it’s okay to fall out!

    On a sunny day, even if you’re soaking wet, chances of a sunburn are high. Bring along some sunscreen and apply as needed throughout the day. Your face and the back of your neck are two particularly important areas to keep lathered up.

    Time To Relax

    You won’t be battling through rapids for the entire rafting adventure. You’ll find plenty of peaceful moments to enjoy the views around you. Expect to take a swim in crystal clear waters, enjoy the view, and chat with your fellow rafting companions in your down time.

    Breathtaking Views

    One of the best parts of a rafting trip in Joseph, Oregon is experiencing the beauty of the outdoors from a fresh perspective. This is the perfect opportunity to see geometric columnar basalt, wildflowers, bald eagles, and Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, to name a few.

    Pack a set of binoculars to get a better view during calm moments. If you have a waterproof camera or video camera, bring it along to show off your experience to friends back at home.

    Good Food In The Great Outdoors

    Most whitewater rafting trips–especially multiple day excursions–provide you with food and drink along the way.

    For example, here at Winding Waters Rafting, we offer gourmet meals on all of our rafting adventures. We even provide gluten-free or vegetarian options and will happily accommodate other dietary restrictions as well.

    While you may want to pack a few snacks, don’t expect to load up and bring all your food.

    New Friendships

    People come from all over to experience the whitewater rapids of Joseph, Oregon. Depending on the size of your tour, you’ll be in a raft with anywhere from 2 to 6 other people. Take time to get to know your fellow adventurers and you’ll walk away from a rafting experience with great new friendships.

    Ready For Your Whitewater Rafting Adventure?

    Now that you know what to expect, you’re probably more excited than ever to get on a raft!

    At Winding Waters River Expeditions, we offer guided whitewater rafting experiences on 3 of the most thrilling rivers in the world. Our adventures range from 1 to 6 days in length, are fully guided, and will no doubt be a wonderful memory that lasts with you forever.

    Don’t have any whitewater rafting experience? No problem. Our tours are open to all experience levels. We’d love to have you join us, even if you have no previous whitewater rafting experience.

    If you have any more questions about what to expect on a Winding Waters River expedition, contact us by phone or email and we’ll be happy to help you.

    Happy adventuring!


  18. 7 Things You Must See, Do, Eat & Drink in Joseph, Oregon

    Comments Off on Hells and High Water

    With the snowpack in the west generally above average this winter, we’re bringing back our popular Hells and High Water Adventure. For 3 days May 19-21, we’ll float the big whitewater through the heart of Hells Canyon. Some rapids will be larger and some will be washed out. We’ll also soak up the beautiful wildflowers during the “greening” of Hells Canyon, a time during which we liken this magnificent canyon to Ireland.

    According to the Idaho SNOTEL Report on March 19, 2017 (on the Natural Resource Conservation Service website), the Snake and Salmon River Basins are well above average snowpack numbers so far:

    What do these numbers mean for the flows in Hells Canyon for our trip? Currently Idaho Power, who controls the dams and reservoirs above Hells Canyon, is releasing water in anticipation of the snowmelt. Below are the current flows in Hells Canyon. 70,000 cubic feet per second is pretty spicy! We anticipate these flows will remain high as the snowpack melts off and continues to fill the reservoirs. Join us on this trip and experience the thrill of this high water for yourself!

  19. The Power of Community

    Comments Off on River Time Yoga

    Beth Estock is our guest yoga instructor on our wonderful, relaxing Salmon River Yoga Retreat July 22-25, 2017. Thanks, Beth, for this nice article on yoga, you, and the river. To reserve a seat, visit our trip page: Salmon River Yoga Retreat.

    I came to the practice of yoga 23 years ago when I was expecting my first child. The class was for pregnant women who wanted to do natural childbirth. What surprised me even then was how calm and centered I felt after the classes. Two healthy births, a stressful job and a move across the country brought me back to yoga 17 years ago — at first once a week and then twice a week.  Now the practice of yoga has become a rich metaphor for my life.


    Of course yoga has given me greater flexibility and stronger muscles, better posture and balance, reduced emotional and physical stress, and increased self-awareness. But more importantly, I have grown in my capacities to take life as it comes to me, exactly as it unfolds, warts and all. It has helped me to grow in compassion for myself and others.  Simply put, yoga has helped me to open my heart.

    Which leads me to the river and another metaphor…

    River Time, as the guides remind us, is when we become so focused on the experience of the river and its natural beauty that we begin to let go of the frenzied narrative that overwhelms our 21st century lives.  We are able to let go of our to do lists and electronic addictions, and instead are invited to rest in the present moment. The river gives us space in which to simply delight in our beingness. It is on a grand scale what happens in a yoga studio one hour at time.


    Granted there is a little trepidation when preparing to run a rapid. We ask ourselves questions like, “Can I do this? Will I fall out of the boat? Will I get hurt?” Likewise when we think about taking up a yoga practice we wonder, “Can I do this? Will I look stupid? Will I get hurt?”

    Running a rapid is like being in a yoga posture that takes your total concentration and brings you unwittingly to the present moment. As my daughter says, it is about being “woke”.  This is a rarity in our lives as our brains prefer rehashing the past or planning for the future. The river experience, like a yoga practice, reminds us of the gift of being alive right now in this moment. When we open to that, life becomes exhilarating and joyful.

    This is why I am excited to be offering this yoga retreat on the Salmon River, as it will be powerful medicine for being “woke”. This is an invitation for anyone who wants to learn more about yoga as well as for those who currently enjoy its benefits. We will begin our days with an opportunity to focus our minds and bodies in the present moment using yoga and then bringing that heightened awareness to the playful flow of the river. In the evenings we will have an opportunity to relax into our bodies and integrate the gifts of the day. It is my hope that we will be able to then take those gifts with us into our everyday lives.

    I hope that you will join me on this yoga river adventure!

    Beth Estock

  20. What To Pack On A White Water Rafting Trip

    Comments Off on Solar Eclipse Rafting Trip 2017

    Total Solar Eclipse!
    Solar Eclipse

    If you haven’t heard, there is going to be a solar eclipse on August 21st, 2017. A total eclipse for those lucky enough to be in the “Path of Totality.” Check it out- Hells Canyon and the Salmon River are near the path and would be great places to view the Eclipse!

    The Path of TotalityPath of Totality


    And yes, you remember those Eclipse viewing gadgets we all made in grade school?  Well start saving your toilet paper rolls and old cereal boxes and let’s get ready.  Here is a link to a video describing how to make one of these safe eclipse viewing gadgets.  You can also purchase official eclipse viewing glasses that will make it safe for you to look up at the sun while the Moon is passing between us and the sun blocking out the sun.

    What is a Solar Eclipse?

    Maybe this would be a good time to remind all of us what a solar eclipse is and what the difference is between a total and a partial solar eclipse.


    A Solar eclipse is where the Moon goes in between the Earth and the Sun, and passes right “in front of” the Sun as seen from the Earth. This will cast a shadow over the earth. There are 2 types of Solar eclipses.

    Partial Solar Eclipse: The whole daytime side of the Earth is NOT EVER going to see the Sun covered up! In fact, the part of the Earth that sees the Moon totally covering the Sun is EXTREMELY small – maybe a strip of land about 50 miles wide or so! This strip is called the “path of totality”, and if you want to see the Sun totally covered by the Moon, you have to be in that path! If you’re not in that path, then you will see a partial eclipse.

    Total Solar Eclipse: If you are in that path of totality, then you will see the Moon cover up the Sun little by little (using your eclipse glasses, of course!), until for just maybe a minute or two, the Moon completely covers the Sun! During that brief period of time, we say that the Sun is being totally eclipsed. There is no bright part of the Sun that is visible any more, because the Moon is completely covering it!

    We can’t think of a better place to observe this Astronomically Astrological event than on “The River”. By looking at the map below you can see that the Path of Totality is just south of the Snake River in Hells Canyon and the Salmon River of Idaho. We may not get to see the Total solar eclipse but it will be very close.

    So pack your eclipse viewing gadgets, glasses and swimming suit and join us for a unique adventure that will not soon be eclipsed by another.

    Rafting and Eclipse viewing opportunities:

    Snake River in Hells Canyon Rafting Adventure: August 19th – 22nd

    Salmon River Canyons Rafting Adventure: August 20th – 23rd






  21. RIVER Explorers

    Comments Off on The “Off Season”?

    “So, what do you guys do in the off season?” This question is one of our favorite discussion topics with our guests. The ‘off season’: that mysterious time of year between early November and middle of April when the river rests. This time-frame has transitioned through the years for Penny and Paul as they have become parents and more involved in the community. Beyond preparing for the next river season, Paul and Penny have spread their passion for recreation into some fun community projects.

    Fun ‘Off Season’ WWRE videos

    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.

    trail-photo-smallPenny is helping to create and upgrade community assets for recreation. The first project is the creation of the 63 mile Joseph Branch Rail with Trail from Joseph to Elgin, Oregon. Penny is part of a non-profit, the Joseph Branch Trail Consortium, working with the owners of the railroad, the Wallowa Union Railroad Authority, to develop the first 6 miles of the trail from Joseph to Enterprise. If funding comes through, construction will begin in 2018-19. The trail will be a multi-use non-motorized trail for hikers, bikers, and equestrians.

    The second project she is eye-ball deep in is the Joseph City Park Playground Renovation. The Joseph City Park Playground Renovation Committee is working with a playground architecture firm, Play By Design, to design a beautiful, ADA compliant playground for the community. The best part of this project is how much it says about the community Penny and Paul live in. The 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. Over $50,000 has been raised in our small, rural community and over $140,000 has been raised at the state-wide level. Come help us build the new playground next April 25-30, 2017!

    10-7-16 Joseph Rendering-web

  22. 2016 Season Slideshow: Smiles, Sun, and Silly

    Comments Off on Top 5 Packing List Items

    We provide 99% of the essentials for a great vacation. Here are the top items in the other 1% we recommend:

    • Awesome Water Bottle
    • Good Sun Protection (hat, sunblock, sunglasses)
    • River Shoes
    • Long Sleeved Sun Shirt
    • Waterproof Camera/Case

    And for all of the items we recommend, here is our complete Packing List.

    Water Bottles:

    wwre-hydroflaskHydration is your key to a great vacation on the river. We see A LOT of variety of water bottles. The environment is hot on our trips and water bottles are put through the test. Leave your water bottle sitting in the hot sun for a couple hours and then return to it. Do you want to drink the water? Our preferred choice is Hydroflasks (or the like)- a vacuum-sealed bottle that will keep your water cold or hot, depending on it’s temperature when it entered your bottle. And a top that a carabiner can clip onto, so you can clip your bottle the boat during the big whitewater in Hells Canyon or on the Salmon River.

    Good Sun Protection:

    The sun is our friend on the river, but managing your exposure will make for a great trip. We start with a good sun hat: one that protects not only your face, but also your ears and neck. And quick dry material is handy if you want to get it wet and wear it on your head. It holds its shape when wet and still protects you. In our Boathouse Shop, we carry a variety of sun protective hats, from Patagonia to Tula Hats.

    Quality sunblock and chapstick are also key. Watch for harmful chemicals (like parabens and retinyl palmitate) while looking for long-lasting spf waterproof protection. We apply early and often on the river. We carry a great sunblock and chapstick in the Boathouse Shop you can pick up before your trip.

    chaco-sandal-circleRiver Shoes:

    Flip flops don’t cut it. You need shoes that will stay on in moving water. Sandals with straps are key. Our guide shoe of choice is Chaco Sandals. Chaco’s Z/Volv is a nice line and gives you great “Chaco Tans”.

    Long-Sleeved Shirt:

    We’re in the sun the better part of the day. We love our tans, but more importantly, love ways to cover up from the sun for skin protection. A quick-drying, long-sleeved shirt with SPF is an essential piece of clothing on your trip. One with a hood is even better. In our Boathouse Shop, we carry select sun protective shirts from Free-Fly Apparel and Patagonia.

    Waterproof Camera/Case:

    You will be visiting some of the most beautiful scenery in North America. And creating memories to last ae-case lifetime. Photos and videos are key when time helps the memories fade. Many guests choose to bring their smart phones along. There are a variety of waterproof cases available today for these phones. E-Cases (pictured right) have performed well on the river. Since there’s no cell service or wifi on the river, airport mode helps the battery life last longer, too. As far as cameras go, our favorite river camera is the Pentax Optio WG-2.


  23. 2016 Winter Snowpack Stacking Up

    Comments Off on Glacier National Park and Rafting

    Is it time for you and your family to experience the natural wonders of the Western UnitedChina Bar States? Combine a whitewater rafting expedition with a visit to one of the west’s National Park treasures. We have helped many families plan their trips out west and have found this itinerary to work really well. Spend 4 or 5 days floating through Hells Canyon on the Snake River or the Canyons of the Salmon River, two of the west’s premier wilderness rivers, with 3 or 4 days exploring one or more of our spectacular national parks.

    Itinerary: Western Rafting and National Park Adventure

    Glacier National Park, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, and the Eagle Cap Wilderness in the Wallowa Mountains

    Airport Portal to Adventure: The Lewiston, Idaho airport has daily flights on Delta and Alaskan airlines. The Delta flights are most convenient for travelers coming from the east as your connection is through Salt Lake City for these flights. Lewiston is the perfect jumping off point for this adventure. You might also consider Spokane, Washington as an option.

    After spending your arrival night in Lewiston, ID we suggest you beginGLACIER-NATIONAL-PARK your trip north to Whitefish, Montana. This is a very scenic 6 hour drive through Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and past Flathead Lake. Driving directions: Whitefish is a beautiful little mountain town located on the banks of Whitefish Lake. Begin to plan your stay in Whitefish by visiting Explore Whitefish. Whitefish is the perfect jumping off point for your visit to Glacier National park. You might also consider staying in the park at 1 of their lodges.

    Glacier is full of wonderful day hikes and spectacular drives fun for the entire family. This is a park that should be on everyone’s not to miss destination list. After spending a few days exploring the park it will be time to head toward “The River”.


    Next Stop on your travel plan will be beautiful Joseph, OR.  You will retrace your path back to Lewiston, ID and then continue south for another 2 hours to Joseph. Click here to begin planning your time in Joseph, OR. Take a look at our Joseph Insiders guide to learn more about all of the wonderful activities there are to do in town, on Wallowa Lake and up in the Wallowa Mountains and Eagle Cap Wilderness.

    After a few days exploring Joseph and surrounding areas it will be time to get ready for your joseph_or_main-smfloat down the Snake River in Hells Canyon. There will be a pre trip meeting at the Winding Waters Boathouse in Joseph, OR the night before your scheduled launch date. When the much anticipated launch day arrives you will park your car at the boathouse, lock your phone and valuables in our safe and load up in the van for the trip over the mountains to the Hells Canyon launch site. Once on the river you will be free from all outside distractions and be able to fully immerse yourself in the wilderness and in your family and friends who are joining you on this adventure.   After spending 4 or 5 days rafting, camping, eating amazing food, hiking, exploring and simply slowing down, it will be time to leave the river behind and head back to Joseph, OR. We always recommend spending 1 more day in Joseph after the trip allowing you to ease back into life.

    After your final night in Joseph you will load up and head back to Lewiston, ID to catch your flight back home. This trip will be the western adventure that you have dreamed of taking your family on. Be prepared for these memories to dominate your family conversation at Thanksgiving and Christmas for many years to come.

    Lewiston to Whitefish Maps: https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Lewiston,+ID/Whitefish,+Mt/@47.5625913,-116.9688482,7.97z/data=!4m13!4m12!1m5!1m1!1s0x54a1ac07f2a390b7:0x5abfd839e364a42e!2m2!1d-117.0011889!2d46.4004089!1m5!1m1!1s0x536669ab14afecb5:0xccca7a6b8837463e!2m2!1d-114.3352652!2d48.4106373


  24. Give Back to The River

    Comments Off on Happy 40th Birthday Hells Canyon National Recreation Area

    Happy 40th Hells Canyon National Recreation Area (HCNRA)! Honestly, you don’t look a day over 120 million. In tribute to this amazing canyon we get to bring visitors to each summer, we thought we would list some fun facts about the region:

    * U.S. Congress established the HCNRA on December 31, 1975
    * The recreation area was established to protect the historic and archaeological values
    of the Hells Canyon area and the area of the Snake River between Hells Canyon Dam and
    the Oregon-Washington border.
    * 215,000 acres (900 km2) of the recreation area are designated the Hells Canyon
    * The HCNRA encompasses 652,488 acres (2,640.53 km2)
    * Nearly 900 miles (1,400 km) of hiking trails exist in the recreation area
    * Within the HCNRA is Hells Canyon Archeological District, a 12,000-acre (4,900 ha)
    historic district that is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The
    district includes 536 contributing sites, 23 contributing buildings, and 58 other
    contributing structures.
    * The largest portion of the HCNRA lies within Wallowa County, Oregon

    Below is a chart showing the depth difference between Hells Canyon and the Grand Canyon.


    Sunrise in the canyon
    Sunset at Eureka Bar, confluence of the Snake and Imnaha Rivers.
    Farm fresh eggs (we have our own chickens, so we know they're fresh!), fresh breads, and seasonal fruits are always on the menu.
    Inflatable kayaks are on every trip
    Nez Perce pictograph sites are abundant in the canyon. We stop to visit them throughout the trip.
    Tomato and blue cheese bruschetta
    World-class whitewater (Class III & IV). That's an 18 foot raft.
    Hells Canyon, the deepest river canyon in North America
    One of the many campsites in the canyon
    Trails are abundant throughout the canyon and there are many hiking opportunities.
    White Sturgeon, indigenous to the Snake River watershed, can grow up to 20 feet in length.
    Black Bear are among the myriad of wildlife we see in the canyon.
    Wild caught Salmon cooked on a cedar plank, one of our specialties.
    View from Hells Canyon Dam, the launch site.
  25. 2015…One Incredible Summer

    Comments Off on Is a Guided Fly Fishing Trip Right for Me?


    This post written by James Nash, Winding Waters’ Fly Fishing Guide

    Is a guided fly fishing trip right for me?

    There are two groups of people who will benefit from answering yes to this question. One group is the person who would like to learn more about the quiet sport of fly fishing. The other is the person who is comfortable with their existing skill-set and would like to utilize the guide’s equipment and/or knowledge of the local water and fishery. If either of these sound like you, then let’s go fishing!

    I don’t know how to fly fish…but I want to learn. Do you offer fly fishing lessons?
    Yes! Fly fishing is at least as complicated as tying your shoe laces and dynamic enough that there is always something else to learn. So, if you have conquered your loop, swoop, and pull then you are of sound enough mind and body to begin learning to fly fish. My philosophy is that there is no clear line between guiding and instructing. I, myself, am always willing to learn but not always willing to be taught and I strive to be sensitive in not handing you more instruction than you feel ready for. I emphasize hands-on learning techniques and minimize lecture and demonstration. In half a day on the 6 Ranch you can learn about equipment, trout behavior, water reading, casting and, probably, how to fight, land, and release, unharmed, a wild rainbow trout. If you want to advance your skills to fly fishing 201 and upwards then come back another day and we will continue to improve our skills.

    To book a day of fly fishing with James, visit our Fly Fishing Trips.