Lower Deschutes River Day Trips
The day trip section of the Deschutes River passes through the small town of Maupin, Oregon, headquarters for ROW Adventures’ Deschutes River operations. It’s a friendly place and easy to get to from Portland, Bend or places beyond. We offer two options for one-day rafting trips.
- The Classic - A fun-filled day of rafting and discovery that covers about 12 miles and includes plenty of whitewater fun. From Harpham Flat to Sandy Beach (see map below).
- The Super Day – This adds another 4 miles of adventure and includes a vehicle portage around Sherars Falls. We then raft through some of the most spectacular canyon scenery of the Deschutes for a very full day of ROW rafting magic!
Both these Deschutes rafting trips feature spectacular desert scenery and plenty of fun rapids. The rapids are splashy class II-III+ rapids with names inspired by history and events. They are considered “pool and drop” in nature, which means that at the end of each rapid, or drop, there is a section of calm water, the “pool.” This creates plenty of recovery time in case anyone falls out of a raft. As well, the pool sections are great for swimming, kicking back to enjoy the scenery and listening to the song of the river.
*If you’re looking for longer trips on the Deschutes River, please see our multiday trip page.
Images & Videos
Deschutes Classic 1-Day Rafting Trip
Meeting Time: 10:00 am
This trip is shorter in both miles and time than our Super Day, meeting at 10:00 am and ending in Maupin about 4:00 pm. It’s the perfect choice if you want to get to and from the greater Portland area or Bend, in a day, or want to keep traveling somewhere at the end of your day of rafting.
With your fun-loving, guest-focused ROW Adventures’ guide, you paddle through plenty of raft-bouncing rapids such as Boxcar, Oak Springs, Wapinita, Roller Coaster, Surf City, Elevator and more! At the end of the rapids, we cheer ourselves on with a paddle high-five! The rapids make hearts beat louder, smiles get bigger and screams of delight are sure to echo off the canyon walls.
The morning starts off with some calm water that gives you a chance to get used to paddling and building the team coordination you need further downstream. Before long we come to our first fun rapid, Wapinita! Next up is Boxcar and then a bit more floating until we pull over in Maupin for ROW’s legendary riverside lunch – a bountiful spread of veggies, meats, cheeses and local fare that will provide you plenty of energy for the afternoon ahead.
We board the rafts again in anticipation of the fun ahead. There are more rapids in the afternoon than in the morning and guests love Roller Coaster, Surf City and Oak Springs in particular! But there’s more to a great river trip than rapids. On hot sunny days the river invites you to jump in the river and cool off. As we float along in gentle current between the rapids, there’s time to discover some of the canyon’s many wonders and explore the formation of the geometric shapes of basalt. We talk about the plants and animals in and around the water and marvel at how they survive in this desert environment. We think about how railroads shaped today’s America as a train rolls by. We reflect on the native peoples and their values and traditions. A river trip, well done, is an encyclopedic experience. Each mile you paddle opens up new pages of discovery.
Near the end of the day we run Upper and Lower Elevator rapids, fun rapids with moderate waves. We take out at Sandy Beach and return by vehicle to the place we started in Maupin around 4:00 pm. Our hope is to send you home with more questions than answers and a strong wish to return to the Deschutes for another rafting adventure.
Deschutes Super 1-Day Rafting Trip
Meeting Time: 9:00 am
This trip covers more miles and takes more time than our Classic Day. We meet at 9:00 am and return to Maupin about 5:00 pm. If you’re planning to spend time in the Deschutes River area to explore before or after your rafting trip, this is a superb choice. We raft about 16 miles of river in total including the same 12 miles as on our Classic Day tour. Then we have a 2-mile vehicle portage around Sherars Falls and a chance to look at this foaming maelstrom which is a sacred fishing site for local tribes. We re-launch just below the falls to raft another four miles through the awesomely dramatic “narrows” section of the river.
Like our Classic Day rafting trip, the morning starts out with a short drive to the put-in, a safety orientation and some gentle water to warm up before we arrive at the first rapid, Wapinita. Smiles spread from ear to ear as we paddle through the exhilarating waves and shout with joy. Then we settle back down to enjoy the scenery and discover the rich lessons that the Deschutes River offers. It’s not too long before we arrive at Boxcar rapids, named after a train wreck in 1954 that resulted in a boxcar falling into the river near this rapid.
With appetites whetted, and bodies soaked, we paddle into Maupin and stop for a riverside lunch. It’s time to reflect on the morning and share laughter together. We feast on a multitude of savory and sweet delicacies, including the legendary ROW mustard bar.
Soon we’re back on the water, our personal flotation devices feeling a little tighter, paddling downstream towards Surf City rapids, where a boisterous ride awaits. Our guides explain the dynamics of rapids and if you’re interested, can tell you about how rapids are rated as well. Not too much farther is Oak Springs, one of the most challenging rapids on the river with a couple of different routes to choose from.
We stop at the mouth of the White River where cool water enters the Deschutes, born from glacial slopes of Mt. Hood. Just upstream a few miles is White River Falls, a beautiful place to visit before or after your ROW Adventures Deschutes Rafting trip.
We proceed on until we reach Sandy Beach, a BLM access point where we pull the rafts from the river, put them on a trailer and drive around Sherars Falls. We stop to take a look at the impressive falls and to learn about the traditional fishing that has been happening here for hundreds of years. Then we put back in the water at Buckhollow which is the start of a section of river called “the narrows” where the canyon walls close in and steep cliffs of basalt rise up. It’s one of the most scenically dramatic sections on the river and one reason guests and guides alike love our Super Day rafting trip on the Deschutes. Trestle Hole rapids provides our next high point of adventure, followed by Wreck Rapids, named from a head-on collision of two locomotives in 1949.
There are too many highlights of the day to describe them all, but rest assured that by the time we reach our take out at Pine Tree, you will be both tired and filled with the satisfaction of having rafting one of the West’s premier river trips. After loading the rafts and climbing into our vehicles, we return to Maupin, about 20 minutes away.
Dates & Rates
1-Day Classic Pricing
July 1 – Sept 20, 2020 (except high-season Saturdays)
- Weekdays - $82 per Adult / $72 Youth
- Weekends - $89 per adult / $79 Youth
High-Season Saturdays (July 11 -Aug 22 inclusive)
- $99 per Adult / $89 Youth
*Youth pricing for age 16 and younger. Ask about our group rates for groups of 10 or more.
1-Day Super Pricing
July 1 – Sept 20, 2020 (except high-season Saturdays)
- Weekdays - $98 per Adult / $86 Youth
- Weekends - $109 per adult / $96 Youth
High-Season Saturdays (July 11 -Aug 22 inclusive)
- $115 per Adult / $105 Youth
*Youth pricing for age 16 and younger. Ask about our group rates for groups of 10 or more.
FAQ & More
We offer full day, two-day, three-day, four-day and five-day whitewater rafting adventures on the Deschutes River. We generally float about 14-20 miles per day.
The Deschutes is considered a fun class II-III+ white water river and one of the most popular rivers in Oregon. Located in the central Oregon desert, it promises a warm-weather escape for the often cloudy and cool weather found west of the Cascade Range. It’s a good river for both beginner and intermediate rafters.
Check out our rafting Blog for a better understanding of white water classifications.
On our trips our recommended minimum age is seven years old.
The Deschutes is a classic “pool and drop” river. This means that each rapid is like a porous dam, slowing up the river above it and creating a “pool.” The rapid is the “drop” and on the Deschutes there are fairly long stretches of calmer water (the pool) between the rapids. However, the pools are not without current and during most flows will carry our rafts along at reasonable speeds. Because the Deschutes River is dam-controlled, flows stay fairly consistent and during the summer this means flows around 4000-5000 cfs (cubic feet per second). This is a great level for fun rapids.
This depends on what you’re looking for. In late April and May flows are higher because snow in the high mountains is melting and filling the reservoirs upstream. On years with a big snowpack this means more water is released from the dams and flows might range from 8000-15000 cfs. Once early June arrives the dam releases become fairly consistent through the summer and fall, ranging from 4000-5000 cfs most of the time.
Weather is likely more important to you than water flows. The Deschutes River area gets about 13” of rain a year and most of this falls from November to February. Thus, starting in May, sunny days and very little rain are the norm until mid-October. By July and August daytime temperatures are typically in the 80’s and low 90’s.
You can float the Deschutes River year round. But most of the rafting takes place during the warm summer months from June through September. Fishing trips start earlier in the spring and go later into the fall.
During the prime rafting season, from July through later August the range is 65-70 and from late August through September it’s about 58-64 degrees. During May the average is 55-65 degrees and in June the average is about 60-65. Local weather will impact these ranges. A hot summer, for example, will raise the water temperatures.
We provide a full packing list for both our Maupin day rafting trips and our longer overnight trips. Generally speaking, you wear a swimsuit or quick-dry pants and a top. It’s always wise to bring a layer of warmth and a basic raincoat in case of a cloudy day.
We maintain a fleet of 14-15’ self-bailing rafts that we run as paddle rafts. We also offer the option of inflatable kayaks for those seeking more excitement and these are usually shared among interested trip participants. By request we can also provide trips in oar-powered rafts where the guide does the rowing and you simply hold on and enjoy the scenery. On our overnight trips we have a larger cargo raft that a guide rows using 10-11’ oars. This carries all the camp gear, food and trip supplies.
Meet us in Maupin, Oregon for your rafting trip.
As a company we provide a high level of training for our guides. We run several guide training trips each year including our annual All Guide Staff trip in early May that is a 7-day event that covers risk management, natural and cultural history interpretation, company philosophy, guest service and much more. In early June we run a skills-based training trip for guides that are just starting out in their guiding profession. This is a 6-day course in the technical aspects of raft guiding including how to read water, how to be a paddle raft guide, river rescue, risk management, public speaking, how to provide good guest service and much more. Then in late June we conduct our 5-day multiday guide raft training that is focused on the nuts and bolts of how to run an overnight camping trip on the river. This includes learning how to rig rafts, tie knots, set up camp, cook meals, and more.
Our guides not only know the rapids, they also know the natural and cultural history of the area and will make your time with us more intriguing and educational through their stories and the sharing of their knowledge. The whitewater is fantastic, but so is the natural and cultural history of the area. We provide specific training relative to natural and cultural history interpretation. This means our guides are trained in techniques used to convey information about a resource to you in a way that is meaningful and personally relevant.
On any river trips, the guides are the most important factor for your safety, enjoyment and the success of the trips. ROW guides are exceptional people that we choose through a selective hiring process. We look for guides who are willing and eager to share, teach, listen, learn, laugh, play, discuss and, above all, work hard to provide a safe, relaxed and spontaneous adventure. We maintain a tobacco and drug-free workplace and encourage our guides and staff to make healthy life choices. Our guides are the main reason many of our guests return to ROW time and time again. (References gladly provided.)
We staff our one-day trips with one guide for every six-seven guests and our overnight trips with one guide for every four-five guests, providing you the ultimate in personal attention.
We camp along the river’s banks at designated BLM camps on our multiday overnight camping trips.
You’ll be amazed how comfortable camping can be when done the ROW way. Our camping trips provide a full-service experience along with all the camping gear you need including a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and pillow.
We have a large cargo raft that carries the camp gear, personal gear and food. On trips with 8 or more guests, this raft travels ahead to set up camp including spacious tents, and a complete kitchen with tables and chairs. Few outfitters provide this level of service that allows you more time to do other things like fishing, hiking, or simply relaxing.
On smaller trips with 7 or less guests, the camp boat stays with the group during the day and we set up camp as a team on arrival.
The quality of our food reflects the quality of the river canyons. Sustainably harvested wild Alaskan Salmon served with a fresh garden salad; rib-eye steaks combined with a tomato-cucumber salad and garlic mashed potatoes or, made-on-the-river Pacific Northwest Lasagna are a few possible entrees. Desserts are made each evening and range from authentic cobblers to other sweet delicacies. Along with cool drinking water, sodas and sparkling water, we also provide complimentary wine and beer at dinner. Our morning breakfasts fuel you for the day and along with the main course (eggs, pancakes, French toast, etc.) we serve sides of breakfast meats (including vegetarian options), yogurt, juice, coffee, tea and cocoa. Lunches are riverside affairs that range from make-your-own deli sandwiches to creative salads and the famous ROW mustard bar.
ROW Adventures will happily accommodate food allergies or dietary needs with advance notice. Please indicate any special needs on your trip application.
One of the reasons that the Deschutes River is such a fabulous rafting trip is the variety of things to do and see along the way. ROW takes pride in historical interpretation and takes advantage of as many side excursions as possible. We share stories of the early pioneers and the fascinating history of the railroad that goes along the river. Not only do we show you these places, but we also help you understand them.
If you're interested, we also share our knowledge about the geology, plants, and animals that inhabit the Deschutes River. We strongly believe that deepening understanding builds greater appreciation and we hope our love of this canyon is contagious.
We operate following the best in "sustainable" or "eco" travel ethics including Leave No Trace camping and many other best practices that are sometimes forgotten about in the world of travel. Visit our Sustainable Business page for more information.
One of our core values is respecting the Earth and we practice this throughout our operation. At our office and in all our field operations, we work to minimize our footprint through wise energy use and practicing the four R's - recycling, reducing, re-purposing and re-using.
ROW Adventures is a strong advocate for wild rivers. We support many river conservation groups with both time and money. We also encourage our guests to help through our River Preservation Donation program . When you receive your invoice from us, you will find a $2 per person per day voluntary donation included. For our Deschutes River trips this money goes to local river conservation groups such as the Deschutes River Alliance; the Deschutes River Conservancy and The Upper Deschutes Watershed Council. As well, we direct a small percentage to the national river conservation group, American Rivers. These are all effective non-profit conservation groups working to protect wild rivers, fish and clean water for the communities that depend on them. If you choose not to donate simply delete this item from your invoice when you remit payment.
Our trips support many other local businesses including fuel companies, food purveyors, shuttle services, local retailers and more. We also employ local people. Our guides, some local and others who may live elsewhere in the winter, spend their rafting season in the local communities and part of their wages are spent with local businesses. This means our trips and the money you pay for them, has a significant impact to the communities around the Deschutes River.
ROW Oregon LLC, doing business as ROW Adventures, is proud to be an Equal Opportunity recreation service provider and employer under permit from the Bureau of Land Management, Prineville District. ROW Oregon LLC. is bonded and licensed by the Oregon State Marine Board. All our operation and facilities are operated on a non-discriminatory basis.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages more public lands than any other agency in the United States. BLM lands surround the Lower Deschutes River corridor and there are quite a few riverside campgrounds not far from Maupin. It’s important to note that these public campgrounds are available only on a first-come, first-serve basis, so on busy weekends space can sometimes be hard to come by. Facilities include a pit toilet, but no running water other than the river itself. campfires are prohibited so you need to bring a cookstove of some sort. A list of nearby camps can be found through the BLM.
If you want to reserve something ahead of time, there are a couple of camping options.
One is the Maupin City Park located on the banks of the Deschutes on the edge of Maupin. There are grassy areas for tents as well as full RV sites. Restrooms and running water are also part of the facilities. For reservations, call (541)395-2252 or visit the City of Maupin Website.
Another private campground is operated by the Oasis Café. Located on a grassy slope on the north side of the river, it offers lovely views and nice facilities. They also offer simple cabin accommodations. The ten cabins were once used by railroad workers and offer a glimpse into that time in history.
Lodging options are very limited in Maupin and include:
- The 6-room Deschutes Motel
- The River Run Lodge which is a particularly good choice for families or groups of up to 13.
- 20 minutes to the north is the small town of Dufur and the 20-room historic Balch Hotel.
- 45 minutes north of Maupin is the city of The Dalles with a number of accommodation options.
- About 45 minutes to the south is the city of Madras with several motels.