Barker River Expeditions featured on the March, 2007 cover of
For more adventurous types seeking a unique river experience and some solitude, try a trip in the desert outback. Barker River Expeditions, out of Lenore, Idaho, specializes in the desert rivers of southwest Idaho and southeast Oregon, including the Owyhee, Bruneau, and Jarbridge rivers. "For those who want an extended trip on a remote section of river, this is the ultimate river trip adventure," says owner Jon Barker. "Most places out there on the high desert are so magical. It's a four-wheel drive expedition just to get out there and put the boats on the river."
Trips average from four to seven days and both oar boats and paddle boats are used. Barker designs his river trip to limit encounters with other groups, allowing guests to enjoy the pristine wild canyons with a minimal of human contact. The Owyhee and Bruneau canyonlands, he says, offer a sense of solitude and serenity rarely encountered in a lifetime.
With specially crafted smaller rafts, he can run trips at lower levels and go when and where other outfitters can't. Most of his trips run in May and June even into early July, but he's never had to cancel a trip yet due to low water. Going a little later in the season provides warmer water and weather, fewer people on the rivers, and better fishing.
Although Barker has led river trips all over the world, the Owyhee and Bruneau continue to draw him back to the high desert again and again. Already the most remote area in the Lower 48 states, current proposed legislation would designate more than 500,000 acres in the Owyhee and Bruneau canyonlands as wilderness and include 284 miles of river as the newest addition to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
These rivers have tranquil stretches that alternate with Class IV and V rapids. There are also great hiking opportunities throughout the river corridor and side canyons including some intriguing caves and arches. Guest can also opt for a two-day extension on the Jarbridge River, which is a small, steep river that runs into the Bruneau.
"My goal is to take people out to a section of river that few have ever seen and have a fantastic time," says Barker.
Scott Staats - Northwest Travel