Lostine River, OR -The Wallowa Mountains

The Wallowa Mountains are a mountain range located in the Columbia Plateau of northeastern Oregon in the United States. The range runs approximately 40 mi northwest to southeast between the Blue Mountains to the west and the Snake River to the east. The range is sometimes considered to be an eastern spur of the Blue Mountains. Also called the “Alps of Oregon” Much of the range is designated as the Eagle Cap Wilderness, part of the Wallowa–Whitman National Forest. The highest point in the range is Sacajawea Peak, at an elevation of 9,838 feet above sea level. The Wallowa Batholith is formed of granite from a magma upwelling in Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous time (between 160 million and 120 million years ago)

Most precipitation in the area is orographic precipitation. Near the tops of the mountains, total annual precipitation can exceed 100 in per year, as opposed to 10 in in the valleys. The Lostine River is a tributary to the Wallowa River draining northwest from the north side of Eagle Cap.

Before this trip Matt King had dialed in a few rivers in the Wallowa’s and after a cross-country road trip, back home for 8 hours, I was on my way to the Lostine with Jacob Cruser. We met up with Tygh and Matt and headed to the river.

The put in. The last calm pool you will see.
The put in. The last calm pool you will see.


After the put-in the Lostine tilts on edge and the whitewater begins. A lot of blind turns and consistent gradual gradient goes until the first long boulder garden.

The long boulder garden on the Lostine River


The last couple rapids build into vertical walls with an intimidating rapid to exit the gorge and reach the take-out. After ducking a log-jam and catching an eddy on river left, you can see the take-out eddy downstream on river left…in between is the exit crux. This section can be seen from the take-out bridge. Scout well and have fun. The Lostine as well as the greater Wallowa’s are packed full of adventure.


Log ducking before the final rapid.
Log ducking before the final rapid.


Tygh cruising into the take-out
Tygh cruising into the take-out


The Lostine was an instant classic with easy access, flat water put-in shortly followed by non-stop action. The character starts out with fast paced shallow boulder gardens that eventualy forms into a bedrock gorge before the take out bridge.

For video on the Lostine River and a couple other Wallowa Classics, check out this edit by Jacob Cruser


Flows: Flows are hard to catch in the Wallowas, but the best time is the spring/summer run off when the rivers slowly drop into a good flow range
Take-out: High bridge on Upper Lostine Rd.
Put-in: About 4 miles up the rd. near the first calm pool.

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