50. Clarno to Cottonwood (Lower Canyon Unit)
Suggested Citation: Kerr, Andy. 2000. Oregon Desert Guide: 70 Hikes. Seattle: The Mountaineers Books. p. 198.
What to Expect: A very easy float through spectacular basalt canyons
Distance: 69-mile river trip
Elevation Range: 569-1,190 feet
Drinking Water: Yes
Best Times: Late spring, early summer
USGS 7.5' Maps: Bath, Chimney Springs, Clarno, Esau Canyon, Harmony, Horseshoe Bend, Indian Cove, Indian Spring, Shoestring Ridge
Oregon Map Starting Point: Antelope
East 15 miles from Antelope is the put-in at Clarno on OR 218. If you're going to see the Lower Canyon unit, you have to see it by river because very limited public access is available by land. By canoe, raft, kayak, or drift boat this is one of the easiest river trips anywhere (except during the highest runoff). The Clarno Rapids (Class 3) should be scouted (and portaged if you wish), but all the rest is Class 1 and 2. Beware of afternoon upriver winds impeding your progress. Figure on two nights on the river. Detailed information is found in Oregon River Tours and Soggy Sneakers (see Recommended Reading). Check with the Prineville District BLM office for the latest regulations.
The take-out is at Cottonwood 12 miles southeast of Wasco on OR 206.