White Water Raft Down the Deschutes River

Warm Spring, Madras, Oregon, United States

  • Activities:


  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Spring, Summer

Adult Beverages
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Cliff Jumping

Located just a couple hours outside Portland and Bend, Oregon, the Lower Deschutes River is a one-day white water rafting run that features class III-IV rapids with big drops, huge splashes and is a ton of fun for beginners and returning rafters alike.

For first time rafters and those just looking to get back into some fun white water, the Deschutes is a great run and an easily accessible one at that. 

Guiding companies operate trips spring through late summer starting out of the quiet town of Maupin, Oregon with both half day (just river rafting) and full day (rafting plus lunch, hikes and swimming) options for anywhere from $50 - $120. If you go the guided route -- and most do -- your adventure really just requires driving down to the town, slipping into river clothing and putting on the company provided lift jacket. Instruction on paddling basics, how to handle rapids and what to do if you fall out of the boat are all included with the tours.

More experienced rafters can of course bring their own boat or kayak down to the Warm Springs Boat Launch for an independent run with numerous places to shuttle back and forth between river sections. Permits and river hazards are explained on the forest service website for those taking that approach.

Either way, the lower Deschutes is an absolute blast as you paddle 13+ miles through a constant barrage of class III rapids such as Boxcar, Sneaker, the Elevator, and ACDC all leading up to (and following) Oak Springs, the river's big drop, class IV rapid. Expect to get absolutely drenched on the day and consider throwing in a camping trip at one of the nearby spots to make a weekend out of it all.

Pack List

Taking the guided option, all you'll need is a few water basics. 

  • River friendly clothes (hat, board shorts & a t-shirt in summer, a little heavier gear if it's colder)
  • A waterbottle with a clip to attach to the boat
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses with strap
  • Waterproof camera with mount*

*Don't bring anything you're too afraid to lose -- though buckles / clips help prevent that.

If you're going it alone, you'll need your full white water rig for a 4000+ CFS, class III river with access permits. Take out is Sandy Beach.

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You might mention the section you mean - below Shears Falls you even have to row to go downstream - winds coming up the river are strong and there are no rapids. The section you talk about I have done many, many times and it is fun though not really anything a white water person wold get excited about.

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

We had a great guide for our raft trip out of Maupin.I totally recommend this for families!It was a great experience and I'd love to do it every year.During the slower parts of the river you are able to spray the other rafts going by with water weapons or jump in for a swim.The rapids are the best,really gets the blood pumping.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Absolutely incredible adventure. When I went we were one of the only boats out which made the experience so much more immersive. I would recommend the trip to anyone, it's not too far away from Portland and there's lots of places nearby that you can stay and eat at. Dechutes is a wonderful area, not just for rafting and fishing! Beautiful hikes around the Are, highlighting the wonders of oregons high rocks.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Ted S

Avid adventurer, road trip driver, hiker and aspiring mountaineer. I love to travel and share my experiences. Follow me here and as @travelerted.

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