Whipface Creek in Oregon
This is a classic run for boaters who equally enjoy whitewater and camping. It is basically a 36 mile (or longer) continuous class II-III rapid with several class IV rapids and logjams thrown in to keep you in suspense. Kayakers should have a reliable roll or self-rescue skills because recovery pools, if any, can be miles apart. The red basalt canyon (what you can see of it anyway) is very scenic. Pleasant campsites abound in the lower canyon, but during boating season it often rains in the upper canyon.
Recognizable landmarks are rare along this run, especially in the lower canyon where both banks are lined with willow trees, hence the name Whipface Creek. It is best to plan your trip before the trees leaf out and reduce visibility. Old cabins and side-creeks are sparse but the only way to mark your progress. Cattle graze along the creek except in steep canyon sections.
The AWA river inventory of Oregon has a writeup of this run. Their mile-by-mile starts about 4 miles upstream of Cougar Creek and continues below the take-out bridge to the Grande Ronde confluence. They give helpful information about put-in permission and shuttle drivers.
From Enterprise, take highway 82 east towards Wallowa Lake. In 3.5 miles, turn left onto Crow Creek road (dirt). After 1.1 mile, take the first right (uphill) to stay on Crow Creek road. Stay on this road as it twists and turns. Continue slightly uphill along Prairie Creek to a low summit, then slightly downhill along Crow Creek. In 27 miles, shortly after crossing Chesnimus Creek, turn left onto J0seph Creek road, which looks like a driveway. (Elk Creek road, possibly snowbound, joins on the left 1 mile before Chesnimus Creek, which provides most of the flow.) Continue at least 6 miles along J0seph Creek road. Land ownership alternates between private and USFS. At one point you come to an unlocked gate amidst a mud puddle. The final locked gate is just past Cougar Creek. If that put-in looks too brushy, go back upstream and find a good spot. This leg of the shuttle takes about 80 minutes.
The Bennett guidebook describes the Elk Creek route, which is only a few minutes faster, and could be snow-bound, so the above directions recommend a lower-elevation route.
To reach take-out from Enterprise, drive on highway 3 north 42 miles to the state line, then (the number changes) on highway 129 north 36 miles to the town of Asotin. From Asotin, take the Snake River road 25 miles south to Grande Ronde road, then another 5 miles to J0seph Creek road. The take-out is at a fishing access just below the downstream bridge. Another bridge is upstream, with unknown parking status: the Bennett guidebook recommended it, but shuttle drivers do not. This leg of the shuttle takes about 3:15, but can be shortened to three hours (avoiding Asotin) if Montgomery Ridge road is open.
Map of Rivers