School is out and summer is here. It’s time to “unplug” from the electronic chaos of everyday life and get outside for a little adventure. Oregon is blessed with an abundance of Wild & Scenic rivers offering endless opportunities for excitement, scenery and outdoor exploration. A one-day rafting trip is affordable, fun for everyone and allows you to “unplug” for the day. For families, a rafting trip creates valuable time together and for groups of friends, the opportunity to share a unique and exciting adventure. And if you’ve got friends from out of town, a river trip is the best way to showcase the very best scenery that Oregon has to offer. Don’t let your summer slip away without a whitewater rafting adventure to remember. Here are three of Oregon’s most popular one-day rafting trips.

McKenzie River – Jewel of the Cascades
East of Eugene and west of Sisters lays the McKenzie River Valley. From the headwaters at Clear Lake to its confluence with the Willamette River, the McKenzie offers 70 miles of rafting, fishing, mountain biking, hiking and rustic lodging. Swift and exciting, but moderate and manageable, the upper McKenzie River’s crystal clear waters, deep turquoise pools and continuous whitewater offer an exhilarating getaway for seasoned rafters and active beginners alike. The section of the McKenzie from Paradise Campground to Blue River offers 15 miles of active and splashy class II rafting and beautiful forest scenery. You can extend your rafting trip with a visit to Sisters or take advantage of the many rustic lodges along the river.

Deschutes River – Sunshine, Splashes & Smiles
The Deschutes River is the recreation life-blood of central Oregon, running for over half the length of the Oregon Cascades from Little Lava Lake south of Bend to the Columbia River near The Dalles. The last 100 miles of the river are an extremely popular destination for rafting and fishing with the centrally-located town of Maupin rightly holding the title of Oregon’s Rafting Mecca. The “Maupin Run” is Oregon’s most popular one-day rafting trip delivering big (but not too big) class III excitement at Wapanitia, Box Car and Oak Springs Rapids. Numerous other rapids and the opportunity for an adventure swim at Elevator Rapid provide the perfect active day-trip getaway. This high-desert rafting venue offers dependable sunshine, beautiful desert canyon scenery and professional photographers at the major rapids to capture your mile-wide smile. You can extend your rafting trip with a visit to the Columbia River Gorge or Mt. Hood.

North Umpqua River – Paddle Rafting Challenge
The post-card-perfect North Umpqua River is one of Oregon’s most scenic and exciting river trips. Off the beaten path, the North Umpqua sees far fewer rafters than the McKenzie & Deschutes, but the extra time it takes to get there is well worth it. Tucked away in the Cascade Mountains east of Roseburg, the North Umpqua offers plenty of class III rapids with a class IV climax at Pinball Rapid. Adventurous beginners and veteran rafters alike enjoy the active paddling, old-growth scenery and wilderness feel of the river canyon. The section of the river from Boulder Flat Campground to the Gravel Bin boat launch provides the best concentration of exciting rapids and stunning scenery. The North Umpqua River is a “one-tank-getaway” from Eugene, Bend or Grants Pass. You can also extend your trip with great local options for camping, hiking and fishing, a visit to nearby Crater Lake National Park or a night at historic Steamboat Inn.

Brian Sykes is the General Manager at Ouzel Outfitters in Central Oregon. The day trips listed above can be booked at

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