Jun 11, 2012

Minam River in the Wallowa Mountains

Kirk and I spent a week backpacking in the Wallowa Mountains with our packrafts, boating out on the Minam River. The spring melt had the water levels rising and falling every day, but we managed some good river time.
We saw a bear during our float in Minam Meadows
Stay tuned for more details, in the mean time, here are a few photos...
With 7 days of food our packs were a tad heavy...

We ate morels almost every day!

The snow level dropped some while we were out

Minam Meadows....yes please!

A cold and rainy departure

Shredding the Knar

Kirk has a unique way of portaging


  1. I was trying to tell from the couple of pictures where you started: Bowman trailhead through the Wilson Basin and North Minam Meadows? I don't remember that view from any of the main Minam meadows and the water looks too small to be the main Minam as well.

    I am assuming you did more packing than rafting given the flows, amount of wood, rapids, etc on the upper river? I would love to hear more details.
    Grant Richie

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Hi Grant,

      We parked at the trail head just upstream from the confluence with the Wallowa River, at the ford. We then hiked all the way up the Main Minum River to the side trail to Minam Meadows up the North Minam River drainage, didn't boat any of the North Minam except the meadow, the water was raging while we were there, rain half of the week and water levels visibly rising and falling each day!

      The meadow stretch was amazing, we just walked to the upstream side of the meadow and floated back... a mile or so in length, then we hiked back down to the Main Minum and put in by the bridge by the air strip at Reds/Minam Lodge. Above the bridge on the Main Minum was a little too chunky for me with the cold snow melt water and the flow spiking to 3200cfs. This made above the bridge non-stop class III with no eddies and trees floating down also, so we just did from the bridge down back to the car!

      Later in the year it would be great to go back and be able to boat some of the higher areas of the river. As it was our first time with full gear strapped to the boats, in the wilderness and very high flows on the river we wanted to be on the safe side of things so e will save the top for later. Around 1000-1200cfs (which it was the week before and the week after) would be great for the upper.

      It was really a gorgeous run though, can't wait to go back and do more in the Wallowas.

  3. Wow. So you hiked 25 miles upstream to Red's, then hiked another 12-13 miles up to the North Minam Meadows and floated/walked/floated back? You guys were putting in some miles. I am assuming you inflated the packrafts to get across the river at the parking area before you started your hike upstream?

    I spent last week hiking the entire Minam drainage and was a little surprised when I ran onto your blog on the packrafting forum. I started on the Lostine river at Two-Pan, hiked through snow up to Minam Lake which was mostly ice still, and then hiked the river out to our store at Minam. Part of my trip was scouting to run the very upper river. Above Lowry Gulch is unrunnable in my opinion unless you have a death wish. The easiest/best option would probably be beginning at Elk Creek as others have done and working your way down. I was hoping to do that section in a packraft this year, but it will probably have to wait until next year. We received new Feathercraft made, Baylee River Runner self bailing packrafts at the Minam Store this week and I will be testing them out on the Minam from Red's Horse Ranch back to the store this coming weekend. I did a test run down the Wallowa in them yesterday and was very impressed.

  4. Yep, we like to hike... :)

    The river was raging when we first crossed the ford, yes,we had to boat across to start.

    The Lostine looks amazing, we drove up there to check it out after we were finished, it would be a stout run, but the great thing about packrafts is you can pick off sections and then just walk around whatever is in the way.

    We went to stay in the Teepees at Rim Rock Inn after our trip and were looking at Joseph Creek, really wanting to check that out, and then we got home and did some research on it and saw your post about packrafting...that looks like an amazing canyon!

    The new owners at the Minam River Lodge are great, Melissa cooks awesome meals, you should stop in while you are there!

    Have fun,