For the nature lover in you, nothing parallels the panoramic views and remarkable Sierra sunsets of the Lower Owens River. Located in the Eastern Sierra Nevada, the picturesque Lower Owens River has been described as "California's latest paddling paradise." Until 2005, the Lower Owens River was little more than an arid valley floor. Jagged mountain peaks to the west of Lower Owens River rise nearly 10,000 feet. To the east, the majestic mountains rise abruptly from the Owens Valley, with their highest peak at 14,242 feet.
The water has been flowing into the once dry riverbed since 2005, after nearly a century of having its water diverted into the Los Angeles Aqueduct. A long time ago, the Lower Owens River ran as fast as 3,000 cubic feet per second. Now the water runs at a rate of about 40 cubic feet per second. However, the Lower Owens River can fluctuate in flow greatly, due to the need for water in L.A. or heavy run-off conditions in the spring.
For the last hundred years, the dry riverbed was overgrown with vegetation and scattered stands of trees, mostly parched and dry, except for those nearby a few spring-fed ponds, which were mainly visited by grazing cattle. In recent years, the new inflow of water has created the pristine 62 mile stretch of water we are able to paddle today, lined with dense foliage flourishing along the formerly dry riverbanks and valley floor.
The Lower Owens River is a perfect destination for back-to-nature pursuits. The river is peaceful and provides a plethora of pleasurable paddling pursuits. Often the only sound is the occasional melodic song of a bird soaring overhead. Because of Lower Owens River’s size and depth, boating is limited to kayaks, canoes and rafts. The area offers additional forms of enjoyment such as photographing, fishing, hiking, camping, and bird watching.
Lower Owens River is a beautiful place to take a break from fast paced urban life. The area's wildlife and rich history, along with the superb paddling opportunities, combine to make Lower Owens River a destination to satisfy everyone.
A kayak trip to the Lower Owens Rivers is the perfect way to start and end your summer. The Owens Valley is sizzling hot during the midsummer months. The weather along the Lower Owens River is milder than farther up in the Sierras, allowing for comfortable paddling and kayak angling year round. Paddling in April can be more strenuous due to high flows from the snow-melt and releases of water from the upriver reservoirs.
At an elevation of about 4000 feet, it can still get pretty cold in wintertime, with low temperatures falling to freezing some mornings, but daytime winter and spring highs are usually comfortably mild. The summer daytime high temperatures can reach into the high 90s and low 100s during the months of July and August. The temperatures can get extremely high during the day and drop dramatically at night, so pack both warm and cool clothing. Although the weather in the Owens Valley area is more predictable than higher up in the mountains, always check the weather forecast before departing to this outstanding paddling destination.