Flowing from a glacial cirque at 7,700 feet in Oregon’s rugged Wallowa Mountains, the Minam River is born in paradise. Its entire length, from its headwaters in the Eagle Cap Wilderness to its confluence with the Wallowa River, is an Oregon State Scenic Waterway. All but its lower eight miles are a federally designated Wild and Scenic River.
Each year, thousands of people make their way to the Minam. Hikers, anglers, hunters and backpackers wander up the Minam River Trail, and kayakers and rafters from all over head to their favorite put-ins.
For decades, a favorite access point for this extraordinary outdoor playground has been the confluence of the Minam and Wallowa Rivers, at the site of the former Minam Store. This is where people put their boats in for the spectacular, multi-day wilderness float down the Wallowa and Grande Ronde Rivers.
Access at this site was increasingly threatened by private ownership, until Western Rivers Conservancy purchased two acres and 350 feet of Wallowa River frontage, including what was then the Minam Store. In 2012, WRC conveyed the lands to Oregon Parks and Recreation Department to ensure this much-loved access point remained forever open to the public.
The Minam Store has since moved directly across the river, but the put-in on the west side of the river remains one of the most important access sites for the Minam, Wallowa and Grande Ronde Rivers. The lands that WRC conserved are now part of the 605-acre Minam State Recreation Area.
Photo credits: Dave Jensen