Guided geology field trip offered: Rafting the Owyhee River in Oregon.

Ouzel Outfitters, a river guiding company in Bend, OR, is working with Dr. Kyle House (USGS) to host a 5-day Geology Rafting Field Trip through the lower Owyhee Canyon in south east Oregon.

The trip dates are April 19-23, 2013.

In the deep canyon, carved in rhyolite and basalt. Photo from Ouzel Outfitters.

According to Brian Sykes, proprietor of Ouzel Outfitters, highlights include hiking, photography, natural hot springs, an isolated river canyon, expert geology interpretation, and petroglyphs. Kyle House said this of the Owyhee: “This is possibly the most consistently amazing place that I have ever been lucky enough to work in. I will keep coming back…”.

The Owyhee canyon and the breached lava dams was the site of this year’s Friends of the Pleistocene field trip. The guide book can be downloaded here:     (Bonus: you can also download the FOP songbook! Funny songs!)

I’ve included links below for information about this trip. Ouzel Outfitters provides this description of the geologic features on this trip:

“Between Rome and Birch Creek, Oregon, the Owyhee River passes through an astounding landscape born of a long series of geologic calamities. Among these are a series of massive, valley-choking lava flows; a nearly endless array of valley-flanking landslides; and huge flood-generated boulder bars that record the effects of catastrophic floods, landslide-dam failures and even the overflow of an ice-age lake that once sat in the Alvord Desert at the base of Steens Mountain. Over the last 2 million years, the Owyhee Canyon has been invaded by no less than six valley-filling lava flows. The lavas poured down its tributaries and over its canyon rim creating massive dams. Spectacular examples of the lava dams are abundant along this reach of the river, including towering cliffs of lava 100s of meters high; spectacular lava deltas that record the advance of the lava flows into large lakes of their own creation; and a series of ancient riverbeds below each lava flow that chronicle the Owyhee’s inexorable journey to the bottom of its modern gorge. The Owyhee lava dams were immense, some measuring 10s of kilometers in downstream length. At least some of them blocked the river for up to 20,000 years at a time. Once the Owyhee had filled the lakes with sediment and begun to carve its ultimate path around or through the dams, it generated huge landslides as it impinged on new valley walls, often resulting in landslide dams and short-lived lakes that failed catastrophically and moved huge boulders downstream.”

Camp scene on the Owyhee. Photo from Ouzel Outfitters.

Registration is limited to 14 people.  Kyle House and five river guides will give feel of a small personalized tour of fantastic geology, with one-on-one interaction and in-depth presentation.  If you register before the end of December, Ouzel is offering 2012 pricing.  In this case, the price would be $1029.00.

This page gives the quoted description above, plus a link to photos and a video:

This page provides details and reservation information for the field trip:

Rafts on the Owyhee. Photo from Ouzel Outfitters.

An abstract of a paper in the GSA Bulletin describing the lava dams is here:

and a geologic map is here:


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