The Grande Ronde River is a tributary of the Snake River, which runs for 185 miles in northeastern Oregon and southeastern Washington. It begins in the Blue Mountains near Anthony Lakes in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and then flows through the agricultural Grande Ronde Valley, and finally through a number of scenic canyons in its lower course. The water is almost always cold because it consists of melt off from the Wallowa Mountains and the Minam and Wallowa Rivers.
Rafting trips usually begin at the section below Minam, which is designated as Wild and Scenic, and has great camping and opportunities to view wildlife. The river is much more exciting to run in the spring months when the levels swell and the rapids and waves increase in size an intensity. For rafters looking for a more solitary experience, late October and early November is recommended as the river sees a lot less traffic because the water levels are so low it is a challenge to navigate.
A number of rafting companies offer multi-day trips down the Wild and Scenic Section. This is an ideal river for families because of the mostly class II rapids. There are many opportunities to view wildlife like bald eagles, deer, elk, black bears and bighorn sheep, as well as an abundant amount of fish including steelhead and smallmouth bass.