Owens River Gorge


Really wanted to spread the word.
Due to issues with a powerhouse, there is water in the Owens river gorge for another 3 weeks potentially. It was a fun and unique trip. It has been dewatered for many years and who knows if it will be boatable in the future. I think all class 4++/5 kayakers in California should check it out, It may not happen for another 50 years.
Put in at Middle Gorge, take out at Birchem Powerhouse. The river is very fast, and there are very few eddies, so make sure to catch them to scout for your first time.
Watch out for stinging nettle :slight_smile: it’s everywhere.


There’s just about 0 beta online that I can find with some cursory searching. Can you elaborate a bit on the character of the run? Any photos to share? Major rapid locations? Major hazards?


I think we did three portages. One is very visible from the road you hike in on. The second had a major undercut/sieve on boaters right which not all that obvious until you stand on top of the rock. The third is runnable but had wood in play in several areas. The stinging nettle is amazingly abundant. If I ran it again I would wear splash pants and gloves just for the nettle.


I’d say the character is mini big water in a tight gorge.
Continuous 4/4+ with a few class 5 drops.
Hazards include the portages mentioned in the other post, sharp rock, and a maze of trees towards the end. The undercut rapid I believe is after another blind left turn against the right wall. They look similar from above, but if against the right wall you are not at the undercut rapid.
For our group the trickiest part of the run was really just finding eddies above horizon lines in order to scout the bigger drops. I would recommend boat scouting conservatively. Pretty unique river,I don’t think I’ve done much that feels similar. Lots of fun, but crazy sharp volcanic rock.