Summer is here in all its hot, hot splendor and we revel the season’s high temperatures in the cool comforts of our favorite waterways! Whether it’s a kayak or a raft, whether you’re a front-seat paddler or a mid-boat observer, Oregon’s rivers have something for everyone. Adventurers can ride the wildly white waters while those looking for a slower paced journey will be mystified by the scenic pathways–through ancient canyons and lush forest–in which these storied rivers run.

In the vast desert and high plains of Eastern Oregon, the Snake River in Hells Canyon stands out as a gorgeous natural wonder, not to mention an unforgettable adventure for any whitewater enthusiast. The Snake flows through a Canyon seeped in history of which you can see in the pictographs and petroglyphs, as well as winter pithouse villages, scattered along the river that document Native American presence in the canyon for more than 11,000 years. For adrenaline-seekers, passing over Wild Sheep and Granite Creek Rapids is known as a rite of rafting passage. Not many major metropolitan areas can claim a National Wild and Scenic River in their back yard but Portland is not just any city. Residents and visitors hike, kayak and raft along the upper stretch of the Clackamas River that lies just beyond the city’s concrete jungle. The Clackamas River winds through dense forest and basalt canyons and has white water stretches that challenge the most expert paddlers.

For beginners or anyone looking for a more mellow experience, head just outside of the city to the Mt. Hood/Gorge area and hop on at the lower stretch of the Clackamas River near Estacada. This is the perfect spot for novice paddlers to test the waters.

The Deschutes River slices through Central Oregon but its on the Lower Deschutes River where the water really turns white. Within the 100 mile stretch between Pelton Dam to the Columbia River is a powerful river that flows through basalt canyons and high desert. It’s a popular spot for rafters of all kinds and kayakers–so much so that each rapid has earned its own appropriate monicker such as Buckskin Mary, Box Car and White Horse.

The Wild and Scenic North Umpqua River in Southern Oregon is known for its unrivaled scenic beauty, passing through ancient wilderness, gorges and lush forest. However don’t get distracted by the view, the high-intensity rapids along this waterway will challenge any thrill seeker but don’t take our word for it, check out the video from the Summer edition of Travel Oregon Magazine.

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