Deschutes River Rafting Overnight Camping Trips

Designated as a National Wild and Scenic River, the Deschutes is one of our Nation’s most treasured rivers.  It boasts 100 miles of spectacular desert scenery, great white water rafting, excellent fishing, comfortable riverside camping and plenty of hiking. As an added bonus, summer days on a Deschutes River rafting trip are hot and sunny and the water is warm enough for comfortable dips and swims.

Rafting the Deschutes River means getting wet!  Where the right mix of gradient, constriction and rock formation come together, we find rambunctious rapids to run. Our guides share their enthusiasm with you as we paddle through the rapids!  Upstream of the small town of Maupin and your Maupin rafting trip, are frolicking rapids such as Trout Creek, Whitehorse, Buckskin Mary, Four Chutes, Wapinita and Boxcar. Downstream of Maupin are many more including Oak Springs, Surf City, Roller Coaster, the Elevators and more!  Working as a team, your guide gives instructions to paddle forward or back, and the exhilaration of paddling together as a cohesive unit is truly rewarding. Sharing this excitement with family, friends and newly-made friends is one of river life’s great pleasures.

Being in a wild river canyon brings a sense of wonder and calm. The Deschutes River is no exception and floating through the spectacular canyon is awe-inspiring. Towering walls rise up from the river 800 to 2600 feet, making this one of the most dramatic river canyons in the American West. The river basin is defined by the Ochoco Mountains to the east, the Klamath and Great Basin divides to the south and the Cascade Range to the west. The river flows north through this basin formed of sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks that tell a fascinating geologic story including that of the Columbia basalt flows. These flows left layer upon layer of basalt thousands of feet thick, stretching from the eastern edge of the Cascade Mountains to the foothills of the Rockies to the east.  Only two other places on earth share a basalt plateau of this magnitude.  On your rafting trip with ROW Adventures, our guides will tell you more about the river’s storybook geology. 

Between the rapids, the calm sections of the river are the perfect space for observing nature. Eagles, ravens and osprey soar above in the expansive Western sky. Various waterfowl such as mergansers and herons prowl the shoreline for food. Many mammals call this canyon their home including mule deer that roam these lands and are an impressive sight. We might see California ground squirrels, raccoons, and if you’re really lucky, a river otter. Other elusive animals include the bobcat and cougar.

On our Deschutes River multiday trips, seeing bighorn sheep can be a real highlight.  Two species live in the canyon, the California desert bighorn sheep and the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep.  While it’s rare to see them, there are many living in the canyon and surrounding mountains. Learn more about their natural history and reintroduction into the area in our Deschutes Natural History blog

We stop during the day to hike and discover the wonders of nature as well as sites of cultural interest. There are old homesteads, railroad history and scenic viewpoints that lure us away from the river’s edge.

River Camping – ROW’s Signature Style -

Our camp boat carries all the comforts that make ROW Adventures’ Deschutes River rafting trips so special. Coolers are loaded with block ice, cold drinks, and fresh food. We bring a complete kitchen set up with a propane stove, kitchen counters, dining tables, chairs, and spacious tents. It’s a glorious sight to see a fully loaded cargo raft ready for your river safari, as it travels ahead to set up a beautiful and welcoming camp.

Once we arrive in camp, there’s time to fish, hike and play games. Disc throwing is always popular, and we have a host of others like ammo can tug-o-war, the paddle circle game and more. Some folks may want to relax with a book or play cards. Fishing on the Deschutes is world famous and you might want to wet a line and test your skill.  The river canyon is the perfect place to be unplugged (especially since there is no cell service and you have no choice).

As the sun gets lower on the horizon, out come the legendary ROW d’oeuvres. A bountiful spread of delicacies to whet your appetite. Need ice? We’ve got it. Cool drinking water, sodas and complimentary beer and wine are yours to enjoy. As the sun drops over the canyon rim, we serve a mouth-watering dinner featuring flavors of the Pacific Northwest. Sample entrees include wild Alaska salmon, Pacific crab, and pine nut lasagna, chicken thighs with tarragon and juniper berries and western range rib-eye. Next up is desert, also inspired by the region. Marionberry cobbler anyone? Our friendly guides do all the cooking and cleaning, leaving you to enjoy the river canyon. After our delicious dinner in the fresh coolness of the evening, a sunset of golden hues gradually turns into a dark sapphire sky dotted with brilliant stars and on moonless nights, an endless milky way. 

In the morning, the smell of coffee wafts through the air and wakes you in your tent. Our guides prepare a bountiful breakfast on the river’s banks. Sizzling bacon, flavorful eggs, yogurt, fresh fruit, juice, coffee, tea, and cocoa all give energy for the day. As you break down your tent and pack your personal gear, our smiling, professional guides pack the rafts. Soon we’re headed downstream for another day of adventure.

Families find a Deschutes river rafting trip to be the perfect way to relax and unplug. We welcome you to bring your own group for a reunion, bachelor or bachelorette party, or team building company retreat. Often people sign up as couples, or singles and by trip’s end have become one big happy family. We can custom-design any sort of trip focus you might want and private charters are welcome for groups as small as 8 people.  

We make logistics easy for you!  

We meet you in Maupin, Oregon, the morning of your trip to drive to our put-in point at either Mecca Flat, Trout Creek Campground, or, if doing the lower Canyon, to Harpham Flat.  At the end of your trip we return you to Maupin, where you left your car!  (Note: For people coming from Bend or points south, it’s possible to meet us at the put-in and pay a modest fee to have you car shuttled north to Maupin where it will be waiting for you at trip end.)

Images & Videos

white water raft in rapid on the deschutes
river raft on white water
Deschutes River in Oregon
mom and daughters sitting on a red raft
river guides cooking breakfast
two people swimming in river
man fly fishing on the deschutes river in oregon
deschutes river
white water rafters in a red raft on the deschutes river
tents set up on river bank
man in inflatable kayak
female rafting guide
eggs benedict
man sitting outside tent
whitewater raft
tents lit up in the dark along river
colorful umbrella covering lunch table
young boy in life jacket in river
man in inflatable kayak
white water raft in rapid on the deschutes
river raft on white water
Deschutes River in Oregon
mom and daughters sitting on a red raft
river guides cooking breakfast
two people swimming in river
man fly fishing on the deschutes river in oregon
deschutes river
white water rafters in a red raft on the deschutes river
tents set up on river bank
man in inflatable kayak
female rafting guide
eggs benedict
man sitting outside tent
whitewater raft
tents lit up in the dark along river
colorful umbrella covering lunch table
young boy in life jacket in river
man in inflatable kayak

Itinerary

Upper Canyon 2-Day

  • Trip Length: 2-day/1-night
  • Distance Covered: 40-45 river miles

If you want a quick get-away, this is an excellent choice. Because of the distance we raft, the days on the water are longer than they are on our 3-day trip which means less time in camp for hiking and playing. If you don’t have time for our 3-day trip, then this is a great choice. It’s an awesome experience and you get to see some of the most scenic sections of the river and paddle through some of the best rapids as we float through the canyons of the Mutton Mountains. The trip starts near Warm Springs and after a fantastic first day on the water, we set up our camp either near Whiskey Dick or the Whitehorse area. The ROW Adventures’ camping magic starts with activities, ROW d’oeuvres, dinner and a night under the starlit sky.  Day 2 starts with a gentle waking and our bountiful river breakfast.  Then we continue our rafting trip going north, paddling through more fun rapids surrounded by blue sky western scenery. The trip ends in the town of Maupin.

*On trips with 8-13 guests, our camp boat travels ahead of the group after lunch and sets up most of camp before your arrival. On trips smaller than this, the camp boat stays with the group and camp set up is more of a team effort. Unless otherwise requested we take one camp boat and two paddle rafts on our overnight trips. BLM regulations limit total party size to 16 and we operate our trips with a maximum of 13 guests and 3 guides. 

ACCOMMODATION : Riverside camping

Lower Canyon 2-Day

  • Trip Length: 2-day/1-night
  • Distance Covered: 40 river miles

We offer an alternative version of our 2-day trip that starts by running the day trip section of the river on Day 1 and then making camp.  On day 2 we continue below Macks Canyon to Heritage Landing at the confluence with the Columbia. This section includes some super fun rapids like Colorado, Washout, Gordon Ridge, Rattlesnake, Moody and more. 

*On trips with 8-13 guests, our camp boat travels ahead of the group after lunch and sets up most of camp before your arrival. On trips smaller than this, the camp boat stays with the group and camp set up is more of a team effort. Unless otherwise requested we take one camp boat and two paddle rafts on our overnight trips. BLM regulations limit total party size to 16 and we operate our trips with a maximum of 13 guests and 3 guides. 

ACCOMMODATION : Riverside camping

Classic 3-Day

  • Trip Lenght: 3-day/2 nights,
  • Distance Covered: 51 river miles:

Our favorite trip on the Deschutes River. This adventure features the best parts of the river, a lot of the legendary rapids and enough time to truly appreciate all the Deschutes has to offer. This pace is more leisurely than the Deschutes River 2-day trip with more time on shore for exploring and fun. The trip starts near Warm Springs, Oregon, just to the northwest of Madras.  This is close to the beginning of the 100-mile Lower Deschutes Wild and Scenic River that officially starts where Pelton Dam releases water back into the river. From here we float north through canyons surrounded by the Mutton Mountains. The first couple of days are highlighted with splashy rapids such as Trout Creek, Whitehorse, Buckskin Mary, Four Chutes and others. We pass through Maupin on the third day, on the Maupin rafting section, running a bunch of exhilarating rapids such as Oak Springs, Wapinita, Boxcar, Roller Coaster, Surf City, Upper and Lower Elevator and more!  We meet in Maupin and take you to either Mecca Flat or Trout Creek to launch and then float to Sandy Beach below Maupin. 

*On trips with 8-13 guests, our camp boat travels ahead of the group after lunch and sets up most of camp before your arrival. On trips smaller than this, the camp boat stays with the group and camp set up is more of a team effort. Unless otherwise requested we take one camp boat and two paddle rafts on our overnight trips. BLM regulations limit total party size to 16 and we operate our trips with a maximum of 13 guests and 3 guides. 

ACCOMMODATION : Riverside camping

4-Day Trip

  • Trip Length: 4-day/3 nights,
  • Distance Covered: 51 river miles

For groups of 8 or more on a charter trip basis, we offer a 4-day/3-night Deschutes River trip.  There are two versions of this trip available.  One is a more relaxed version of the 3-day trip, which is a great choice for people that want more time to fish, enjoy camp and just plain relax.  On this trip, we float from Warm Springs to Sandy Beach below Maupin.  The other option is to float the same segments of river we do on the 3-day trip upstream of our Maupin, but then continue below the Maupin rafting day trip section onto the lower part of the river.  From Macks Canyon downstream is 24 miles of roadless canyon with fabulous Columbia river basalt formations. In the last 8 miles before the river joins the Columbia is one of the most active sections of whitewater including Washout, Colorado, Gordon Ridge, Rattlesnake, Moody and a few others. The trip ends at the Heritage Landing and Deschutes State Park from where we transfer you back to Maupin town.

*On trips with 8-13 guests, our camp boat travels ahead of the group after lunch and sets up most of camp before your arrival. On trips smaller than this, the camp boat stays with the group and camp set up is more of a team effort. Unless otherwise requested we take one camp boat and two paddle rafts on our overnight trips. BLM regulations limit total party size to 16 and we operate our trips with a maximum of 13 guests and 3 guides. 

ACCOMMODATION : Riverside Camping

5-Day Trip

  • Trip Length: 5-day/4-night,
  • Distance Covered: 97 river miles

If you want to run the entire Lower Deschutes Wild & Scenic River from Warm Springs to Heritage Landing at the Columbia, this is the trip for you. If you are looking for a 5-day trip, we would also recommend that you consider our Salmon River Canyons trip in Idaho, a trip that is 80 miles and passes through remote roadless canyons.

*On trips with 8-13 guests, our camp boat travels ahead of the group after lunch and sets up most of camp before your arrival. On trips smaller than this, the camp boat stays with the group and camp set up is more of a team effort. Unless otherwise requested we take one camp boat and two paddle rafts on our overnight trips. BLM regulations limit total party size to 16 and we operate our trips with a maximum of 13 guests and 3 guides. 

ACCOMMODATION : Riverside camping

Dates & Rates

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FAQ & More

How long are Deschutes River rafting trips?

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.

Is the Deschutes River a good choice for me?

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.

What is the minimum age recommended to raft the Deschutes?

On our trips our recommended minimum age is seven years old.

What are the characteristics of the Deschutes River?

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.

When is the best time to raft the Deschutes?

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.

How long is the Deschutes season?

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.

What is the water temperature?

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.

What should I wear on the river?

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. 

What raft options do you have?

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. 

Where does the trip begin?

Meet us in Maupin, Oregon for your rafting trip.

Are ROW guides qualified and trained?

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.  

What do your guides know about the Deschutes River and surrounding area?

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.  

Who will my guides be?

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.)

What is your guide to guest ratio?

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.

Where do we stay on overnight trips?

We camp along the river’s banks at designated BLM camps on our multiday overnight camping trips.

What is the camping on overnight trips like?

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.

What about the meals you serve?

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. 

What is camp time like?

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.

Do you practice sustainable travel ethics?

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.

How do you support river conservation and, can I help too?

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. 

Do you support the communities in which you operate?

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. 

What permits and licenses do you hold?

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.

Where can I stay in Maupin?

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.

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Adult: 
$385
Child: 
$385
Min. Age:
Recommended 17 (14-16 on approval)
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Average: 5 (1 vote)

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