9 Best Rivers for Rafting in Oregon

Sponsored by Oregon River Experiences


When the heat wave hits town, we know its time to head for the water. White water rafting is a great way to beat the heat this summer. Our friends at Oregon River Experiences offer guests many options in river fun, including guided oar or paddle rafts, row-it-yourself cataraft, 1-2 person inflatable kayak and stand-up paddle boards! You’ll also be under the supervised instruction of their fantastic river guides. Choose a river and take your friends, family or co-workers on a river adventure with Oregon River Experiences.

Rogue River

Rogue River is making a name for itself in the Northwest for whitewater rapids, hiking, wildlife viewing, and blue cheese. Definitely should plan to see the region by raft, especially for the more experienced rafters. There’s a long season from May to September, with 3-5 day trips with many fun options. Choose from camping or lodge trip, and find out about adding hiking, kayaking or craft beer specialties to your trip with Oregon River Experiences!


Clackamas River – Closest to Portland!

The beautiful Clackamas River begins between Mount Hood and Mount Jefferson, flowing 83 miles to join the Willamette River just south of Portland, in Gladstone. The Clackamas River is the closest white water rafting to Portland. Head to the Three Lynx section of the upper river for either a half or full-day rafting trip with Oregon River Experiences. Either way, you’ll meet just east of Estacada, and then board a van for a short ride to the launch point. In the spring, wetsuits are required. The water may also be rougher, with normally level III whitewater rapids sometimes increased to IV. In the summer, wetsuits are not normally needed.

In 2018, Oregon River Experiences partnered with Lompoc Brewery’s Oaks Bottom Public House to offer Happy Hour Half-Day Rafting trips. On these special trips, the raft trip ends at Lompoc for their local beer and happy hour dinner menu.


Deschutes River – #1 in Oregon!

Head out to the high desert of Oregon for the state’s #1 rafted river! The Deschutes runs north, from the east side of the Cascade mountains to the Columbia River. The French fur traders called it the River of the Falls, or Riviere des Chutes, (Get it? ‘des Chutes’?) referring to the Celilo Falls that no longer exist.

The rapids that Oregon River Experiences will take you on are in a desert river canyon, with great views of Columbia basalt flows. Osprey next along the river banks. You’ll raft amazing rapids like Wapinitia, Boxcar, Oak Springs and Surf City. This is the trip to take for a sunny, good time on the river! Because this is Oregon’s #1 rafted river, you probably won’t be alone out there. Oregon River Experiences suggests choosing a midweek date during the summer to avoid the large weekend crowds.


Owyhee River

The Owyhee River runs thru Oregon’s unofficial Grand Canyon, with high canyon walls and beautiful desert wilderness. If you don’t know where the Owyhee River is, it’s far away from everywhere. In the southeast corner of the state, along the Idaho border runs Owyhee River. With Oregon River Experiences, you can choose from 4 or 5 day vacations, rafting down III+ rapids, plus enjoying the local natural hot springs and seeing the petroglyphs carved on rocks alongside the river. This trip can only be taken in the Spring, when snowmelt raises the river high enough to navigate.


North Umpqua River

Is your group of friends/family more experienced with rapids? Looking for a fun challenge? The North Umpqua River has the largest number of rapids per mile, with whitewater rating of III+! This river sits near popular destinations like Crater Lake National Park and Diamond Lake, making these short rafting trips perfect to integrate into your longer Southern Oregon vacation! Oregon River Experiences offers 1, 2, and 3-day rafting trips on the North Umpqua.


North Santiam River

The North Santiam River flows from Mount Jefferson. The snow melt in Spring creates III and III+ rapids! But during the Summer, the river calms down to mostly class II+ rapids. Fall is a great time to raft the river, when the water rises to about class III rapids, surrounded by a forest in transition, with migrating salmon alongside your raft.

The rafting season starts early, with Spring departures for those looking for an intermediate level rapids. Half and full-day trips available thru Autumn with Oregon River Experiences.

Grande Ronde River

The Grande Ronde is a beautiful river, with fantastic wildlife viewing. This river is popular with bald eagles, black bears, elk and more. The hillsides along the river are covered with wildflowers, attracting a variety of native birds.

Rafting trips with Oregon River Experiences on the Grande Ronde are multi-day adventures. Bring along your camping gear for a 3 or 5 day journey. The guides will choose a meadow or glen along the river for nightly camping. All meals from lunch on the first day to lunch on the last are included and prepared by your guides. Oregon River Experiences practices minimum impact camping to protect the river.


John Day River

Near the John Day fossil beds, the John Day River is surrounded by desert canyons. It is the 3rd longest free-flowing (no dams) river in the contiguous United States. The river is mild, and the whitewater rafting level is II – novice, with an occasional level III in the Lower Canyon. Home to Chinook and Steelhead salmon, warm water bass and many varieties of trout, the river is known for its fishing.

Oregon River Experiences offers 4, 5, and 9-day rafting trips on the John Day River. It’s a relaxed trip, with time for swimming or stand-up paddle boarding along the way. The 4 day trip does the Upper Canyon, and the 5 day trip does the Lower Canyon. The 9-day trip is a combination of the two. These trips have a limited season in May and June. Plan and book ahead!


McKenzie River

Have you stood at Clear Lake, high in the cascades, looking down to the McKenzie Valley? The river that flows is swift, surrounded by thick forests, flowing 90 miles to the Willamette River. The McKenzie River flows through volcanic rock, past the largest rock monolith in Oregon, Wolf Rock. The area is known for its natural hot springs, as well as salmon and trout fishing. Wildlife enjoy the forest region, as well.

The McKenzie River is fantastic for half or full day trips with Oregon River Experiences. There’s also a 2-day option if you’re looking for a short getaway. The season for the McKenzie River lasts from May to September. Get your group of family or friends together for a fun weekend excursion, or short half-day trip with co-workers!


Salmon River – Idaho

The Salmon River is known as the River of No Return. It’s 425 miles from the headwaters near Galena Summit to where it joins the Snake River. Head out earlier in the season for more class IV rapids to thrill your crew. The trip will end where the Salmon meets the Snake in Hells Canyon, an always popular destination to see high canyon walls, bighorn sheep and eagles overhead. The clear warm water and beaches are great for swimming during the 4 and 5-day raft trips in the summer.


Call Oregon River Experiences (800) 827-1358, or book online!