Whitewater Rafting in Bend, Oregon

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Oregon, with its wild rivers, is the place to go for whitewater rafting. In central Oregon, the town of Bend, known as the outdoor recreation capital of Oregon, is home to companies offering whitewater rafting tours on the Deschutes, McKenzie and North Umpqua rivers. Rafters of all levels of experience are welcome on the tours, which involve rafting on Class II and III rapids.

View the pines along the rivers of Oregon.

View the pines along the rivers of Oregon.

Tour Companies

Sun Country Tours and Ouzel Outfitters are whitewater rafting companies in Bend, both of which offer a variety of trips on the rivers of Oregon. Rafters can choose from half- or all-day trips. The companies provide experienced guides to instruct beginners and help guide your raft down the river rapids. On the rafts, all except the youngest rafters are expected to participate in helping paddle the rafts down the rivers and through the rapids. The companies provide everything you need for your rafting experience, including paddles, life jackets and paddle jackets, and pants for cooler days. Lunch is provided on all-day excursions, The tour companies provide transportation to and from the river, and advise participants to dress appropriately for the weather and wear river shoes or sandals.

Deschutes River

The Deschutes River flows through the Deschutes National Forest and the lava beds of Lava Lands National Monument. The river is filled with mild to moderate rapids that lend excitement to your whitewater rafting trip. Sun Country Tours departs from Bend for whitewater rafting on the Deschutes River for a one-and-a-half-hour trip known as the “Big Eddy Thriller.” The rafts maneuver through gentle riffles, drops with washing machine action, reversals and roller coaster rapids that land you in a swimming hole. This guided trip is appropriate for those 6 and older. For an all-day adventure, both Sun Country Tours and Ouzel Outfitters offer rafting trips that travel through 13 miles of the Deschutes River on Class III rapids. The moderate-level rafting is suitable for the whole family.

McKenzie River

This scenic river takes rafters through the forests of the Cascade Mountains with continuous river action. You will experience the crystal-clear waters of the river as you raft downstream over the moderate Class II and III rapids. Whether you are an experienced whitewater rafter or out for your first adventure, the local rafting companies have trips for you to enjoy. Sun Country Tours and Ouzel Outfitters offer trips on the McKenzie River lasting from two and a half hours to all day.

North Umpqua River

The clear waters of the North Umpqua River flow down the southern Cascade Mountains past giant pines and rock spires into the valley below. As you raft the whitewater river, you might catch a glimpse of elk or deer along the banks. Both Sun Country Tours and Ouzel Outfitters offer all-day river rafting on the North Umpqua River that involves exciting Class III rapids, suitable for ages 10 and up.

Overnight Trips

Both companies offer overnight rafting trips allowing you to experience the excitement of the rivers by day and sleep under the stars at night. Sun Country Tours offers a two-day trip on the Deschutes River. The trip includes two days of rafting with opportunities to fish for trout or just relax along the river. A gourmet dinner is prepared by your guides at night. Transportation to the put-in area and the take-out area are available at an additional charge. Ouzel Outfitters offers a two-day rafting trip on the Deschutes or North Umpqua river that includes all camping gear and prepared meals. Guests on this trip receive a T-shirt and a souvenir water bottle.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michele Norfleet is a freelance writer who writes on travel, home and garden and education topics. She has coauthored a handbook for teachers on school-wide discipline and has contributed tips for special-needs students in the basal curriculum for RCL Benziger. Norfleet holds a master’s degree from Southern Illinois University and has experience as a special-needs teacher and speech pathologist.

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