Lower Deschutes Wild & Scenic River
Hot Weather White Water Rafting Close to Portland and Bend, Oregon. Just two hours southeast of Portland, Oregon, and one and a half hours north of Bend, near the small town of Maupin, is one of the best white water rafting trips in the US-West! The Deschutes River is a fantastic white water rafting destination offering trip options from a half-day to five days. One-day Deschutes River rafting trips are the most popular, but with 100 miles of river to run, we also offer trips lasting from two to five days. Our two- and three-day Deschutes River rafting trips are an ideal length and a guest favorite.
Adventures on the Deschutes River
Why ROW Adventures on the Deschutes?
With our Maupin rafting base, we make it easy for you to join us! We are the company of choice for the curious, inspired rafter. Our guides bring the river to life through stories and activities. We don’t think it’s how many miles you raft that matters, but rather, what you experience in each river mile. Rapids are the natural highlight of any river trip, yet rivers offer so much more! People raft the Deschutes with ROW Adventures for learning and connection, laughter and camaraderie, expert organization, and our 40 plus years of experience. For rafting near Maupin, Oregon we’re a natural choice. Are we the guide service you are looking for?
Oregon’s Most Popular Rafting River!
There are many reasons that the Deschutes River is considered one of the best whitewater rafting trips in Oregon and attracts people from around the world. Action-packed rapids, soul-inspiring desert scenery, and hot, sunny days that are typical of central Oregon are some of the reasons. Add to this the fun factor of our professional river guides who regale you with the history and lore of the region and you have all the ingredients for a perfect summer vacation. Maupin white water rafting trips make an ideal Portland weekend escape.
Flowing from Little Lava Lake in the Cascade mountains near Mt. Bachelor, the Deschutes River flows northeast, passing through the town of Bend, Oregon. As it continues north, it passes near Warm Springs and then flows through Maupin, where rafting and fishing trips are a key part of the economy. The river continues north until it reaches the Columbia River for a total length of around 250 miles. Our trips take place on the “Lower Deschutes Wild & Scenic River” which is the 100-mile section of the river that starts just below the Pelton Dam northwest of Madras, Oregon. The scenery here is classic American West where clean waters flow through a dramatic desert canyon. In places, there are towering cliffs of black, brown, and reddish basalt, and in others, rugged hills scattered with sagebrush and junipers. Along the way you are likely to see osprey and bald eagles soaring, mergansers and other waterfowl swimming, and maybe a mink or mule deer along the banks. The green riparian zone that borders the river makes for a stunning contrast with the surrounding desert scenery.
Lower Deschutes River - Upper Section
Sections of the Lower Deschutes
River rafters and other recreationists divide the lower 100 miles of the Deschutes into two sections, delineated by the tumultuous Sherars Falls. The upper section from Pelton Dam past Maupin to Sherars Falls is roughly 58 miles. The lower section from Sherars Falls to the Columbia River flows north another 42 miles. Each section is scenically different and both sections offer exciting whitewater. ROW Adventures offers trips on all the different sections of the Lower Deschutes.
Once the river was designated as a National Wild & Scenic River in 1988, its reputation as a superb white water rafting river grew. People discovered that in addition to fantastic rafting, it is an ideal region for fishing, hiking, and cycling. The river has great flows all summer. Sunny days and a summer with little rain are additional features that make the Deschutes perfect for both day rafting tours as well as multiday overnight rafting trips.
Lower Deschutes River - Lower Section
A National Treasure
The Deschutes is truly a national treasure and has been recognized as such by inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The Deschutes was given protection under the Act in 1988 safeguarding it from any hydro development and making sure that the river remains free-flowing for generations to come.
The Deschutes River flows through the traditional homeland of the Warm Springs, Wasco, and Paiute tribes who lived here for centuries prior to the arrival of Europeans. Today, the Warm Springs Reservation borders the west side of the Deschutes from the Pelton Dam downstream to just above the Dixon camp area. We honor, respect, and recognize these peoples through our Territory Acknowledgement and welcome you to learn more on our Territory Acknowledgement page or in our Blog about the Indigenous People of the Deschutes River.
Wild, But Not A Wilderness Rafting Trip
It should be noted that this is not a wilderness rafting trip, as there is a railroad on one side of the river and in some places, a road that roughly parallels the other side. If you’re looking for a wilderness rafting experience, we would suggest our trips on Oregon’s Owyhee, Rogue, Grande Ronde or any of our Idaho river trips such as the Snake River in Hells Canyon, the Salmon River Canyons, or Middle Fork of the Salmon. Or if you’re looking for a wilderness river trip without whitewater, our Missouri River canoe trips along the Lewis and Clark trail in central Montana are another great choice.
While not a wilderness rafting trip, it should be said that the massive scale of the beautiful western scenery truly dwarfs the human development that has occurred in some parts of the Deschutes river canyon. When you float the Deschutes and gaze up at the massive basalt cliffs and expansive western scenery, the human impact seems to disappear.
Deschutes River Accommodations and Camping
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.
Magnificence Beckons - The Lower Deschutes Wild & Scenic River is a fantastic destination for any nature-lover, family vacation seeker, or adventurous soul looking to discover one of the most beautiful places in the United States.
ROW Adventures started in 1979 and is still operated under the same family ownership. Our decades of experience help us design and orchestrate the best river trips in the world! No other company puts so much emphasis on guide training and bringing the stories of the river canyon to life!
We believe that there’s so much more to a river trip than just splash and giggles. It’s impossible not to have fun when paddling through rapids surrounded by the beauty of a river canyon and many companies run trips that simply let the river provide all the fun. There’s nothing wrong with that, but ROW Adventures’ trips are different. Our mission, Sharing Nature – Enriching Lives is core to the experience we offer you. We want you to love the rivers as much as we do. To cultivate this passion, our guides share their knowledge through stories and activities designed to create awe-inspiring moments and create what we call “river magic.” This isn’t boring classroom stuff. This is fun! Games, nature walks, and mindfulness create amazing opportunities to observe and celebrate what is around us. An eagle flies by – what can we learn? A fish jumps – what was it seeking? We want you to go home as dedicated advocates of the natural wonders and life-giving water of the Deschutes. We want you to take home memories that will live forever.
To achieve these lofty goals, we are very selective when we hire guides. Once they are hired, we spend tremendous effort in training and educating them. Not just in technical skills and risk management, but also, in how to share their knowledge of the river with you in a way that is meaningful, personally relevant, and engaging! This is what we call natural and cultural history interpretation, and it is the foundation of the river magic found on a ROW Adventures trip.
There is so much to learn! How did the rapids get their names? Who are the native peoples of the region? What happened when Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery traveled by the Deschutes river in both 1805 and 1806? Who were the early fur trappers that came next and what legacy did they leave? What motivated the first white settlers? How did the railroads shape the history of the area as well as impact the river canyon? What is the history of the dams on the Deschutes, Columbia, and American West, and in what ways are they still relevant today? What about those incredible sea-going anadromous fish, a bedrock species of the Pacific Northwest? How is the health of the river’s wildlife? Ours are trips for the curious. For those seeking more than just splash and giggles.
Please come and discover the magic of the Deschutes River and the ROW Adventures difference!
Permits & Licenses:
ROW Oregon LLC, doing business as ROW Adventures, is proud to be an Equal Opportunity recreation service provider under permit from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. We operate under a special use permit from the Prineville District. All our operations and facilities are operated on a non-discriminatory basis. ROW Inc. is bonded and fully licensed by the State of Oregon State Marine Board.