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River Rafting Down The Deschutes River


Nathan Krohn, UnCruise Adventures

It’s Tuesday morning and the buzz aboard the S.S. Legacy is palpable.

Our week of adventure is in full swing. We’ve biked, hiked, toured wineries and stared upwards in awe at Multnomah Falls, but today brings a new level of excitement.

There wasn’t a single cloud in the sky but we all knew by day's end we’d be drenched with water. All of the guests were giddy, donned in swimsuits and ready to set out for a white water rafting adventure down the Deschutes River.

On the way to our drop point, our guide Mike provided us with last minute instructions and tips in-case, you know… you fall out.

Choosing our rafts

At the beach, we grabbed a paddle and did one final life jacket check before hopping in to one of the blue River Drifters rafts.

We pushed off from shore and because most of us were rafting for the first time, we did a little practice lesson.

“FORWARD 1,” Mike roared from the rear of the raft.

We all placed are paddles into the water and propelled forward in perfect unison.

“FORWARD 2,” Mike instructed.

Again, we simultaneously push forward two paddle strokes like we’d been doing it together for years.

“Alright, BACKWARDS 1,” Mike says as we reverse our strokes.

“Good! You guys are ready to go.”

I’m not sure what would have happened if we weren’t ready as the first rapid appeared just then. We hit the drop and the cool Deschutes water splashed all over us. It was refreshing on an 85-degree day.

Raft splashing down the Deschutes River

Before we knew it we were in the middle of another rapid, this one longer and more intense. We paddled forward and held on with our hands and feet as we bobbed and bounced around.

We hit many more rapids with names like Wapinita, Boxcar, Surf City and the Elevators.

The river eventually mellowed out to a calm current and we slowly drifted along, taking in the beautiful canyon views while basking in the sun. We got into a splash fight with one of our fellow rafts and even spotted a coyote rummaging on the hillside.

The river slowly began picking up speed again and Mike casually mentioned we were headed toward the biggest rapid of the day, Oak Springs. He laughed as he told us the day prior he flipped his raft going through this rapid.

I’m still not sure if he was kidding or serious.

“You don’t want to fall out here or you’ll go down the cheese grater,” Mike said as he pointed to a long stretch of bumpy rocks ahead to the right. We all nodded in agreement.

As we approached Oak Springs, Mike steered in back and yelled out the commands to position us for the drop.




“Alright, hold on tight!”

We ducked down low in the raft, tucking in our feet while Kung-Fu gripping the hand holds. We hit the Oak Springs rapid dead on and the raft lifted before slapping the water, creating a huge wave that splashed over us. Just as we cleared the water from our faces…. SPLASH! Another wave of water invaded our raft, soaking us head to toe.

We shook off the water smiling, laughing and high-fiving. The rapids had slowed but our adrenaline was still rushing.

On shore we sat near the river’s edge, eating lunch and sharing stories from the afternoon with our fellow rafters as we watched the rapids we had just conquered flow by.

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