This is one of the main offshoots of the famous River Snake. It has a length of 182 miles from its origin to the point at which it joins the Snake. It passes through the northeastern region of Oregon and also the southeastern part of Washington. Its drainage area is found to the southeastern region of Blue Mountains and the northwestern parts of Wallowa Mountain region. The latter are found in the Columbia Highlands. The Grande Ronde River traverses an area that is rich in agriculture. This region is called the Grande Ronde Basin. This is the middle course of the river. The area it passes through in its middle course is also replete with attractive canyons.
The river originates from the Blue Mountains close to Anthony Lakes leisure region that is found in the Wallowa–Whitman National Forest. This area is in the southwestern Union County about 20 miles to the south of La Grande. The river flows in a northerly direction on the eastern side of Blue Mountains. It then moves east and passes La Grande. From here it moves generally in a northeasterly direction cutting across the Grande Ronde Valley. It meanders between Blue Mountains and also Wallowa Mountains before being joined by Catherine Creek on the eastern side of La Grande.
About 16 miles to the northwestern side of Minam, the Wallowa River joins the Grande Ronde River from a southeasterly direction. The Wenaha River joins Grande Ronde River at Troy south of the border with Washington. The Grande
Ronde River then enters southeastern Washington and crosses to the farthest southeastern corner and joins the Snake River to the east. This is about 5 miles to the north of the Oregon frontier and 15 miles downstream in relation to Salmon River’s mouth. Here it is joined by Joseph Creek which approaches from the south, 2 miles north of River Snake’s mouth.
The opening of the Grande Ronde River is found near mile 169 of the Snake's River. This is 493 miles away from the opening of the Columbia River.
The Grande Ronde Valley was occupied by the Umatilla, Cayuse, Nez Perce and Walla Walla Native American tribes at the beginning of the 19th Century. There are a number of archaeological sites located in public land in the vicinity of the river. The river was christened in 1821 by French Canadian sailors working with a Montreal company called North West.
In 1988, 44 miles of this river was set aside by the United States Congress to create the Grande Ronde Wild and Scenic River which is part of the larger National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. This area begins from the confluence of The Grande Ronde River and the Wallowa River on the Oregon-Washington frontier.
Many bighorn sheep, deer, black bear, deer, cougar and mule hunters like to visit the river. The area designated for wild and scenic activities is also popular for hiking fishing and rafting. The river’s lower areas cannot be reached by motor vehicles.
The river is home to many abundant types of fishes including chinook salmon, bull trout, summer steelhead and mountain whitefish to name a few. There are activities in which tribes compete in fishing spring Chinook and also sport steelhead fishery. If you are interested in a guided fishing trip on the Grande Ronde, we've got you covered!