Pro-Tip: Rafting Near Portland, Oregon
Tons of people visit Portland each year because of its fantastic mix of urban and outdoors. Its close proximity to forests and rivers makes it a hotspot for summer travelers. We get calls each year from Portland-bound people looking for rafting trips, so we've compiled a list of the best trips in the area.
Spring and Summer Boating
The Lower Deschutes is probably the best and most reliable summer river near Portland and you can do anywhere from a half day trip to a 5-day adventure. Located in eastern Oregon's high desert, the Deschutes gained Wild and Scenic River status in 1988 and is definitely worth the 2-hour drive from Portland.
River Drifters (800) 972-0430 offers a variety of Spring and Summer trips on the Deschutes every day from April through October.
The river winds its way through a beautiful desert canyon where wildlife abounds. It is common to see river otter, wild mustangs, beaver, golden or bald eagles, and osprey. With a perfect mix of flat water and exciting rapids, the Deschutes is a great place to practice stand-up paddleboarding or inflatable kayaking and your paddling skills.
The Clackamas is closer to Portland than the Deschutes, and its peak season is in late spring and early summer (March - June). In the spring season the rapids are bigger and the minimum age is 12 years old. In the summer (June - August) the rapids are smaller, but more technical, but sometimes it is too low to run. A half-day trip on the Clack, as it's lovingly known, will have you experiencing a quintessential Pacific Northwest river.
Even closer to Portland (less than an hour!), but with a much shorter season is the Sandy River Gorge. During the spring months (late April to mid-June) you can spend a potentially soggy, but beautiful day on the Sandy in Class III/IV rapids.
The White Salmon is located in Washington in the Columbia River Gorge and is a gorgeous, adventurous half-day whitewater trip. The narrow river gorge is lush and green with waterfalls trickling through. The drive alone along I-84 to get there is worth it and you can spend some time in Hood River or White Salmon while you're in the area.
Another great half-day trip in the Columbia River Gorge is on the Lower Hood River. In a few short hours, you'll go through solid Class II-III rapids and see stunning views of Mt. Hood from the river.
The Wind River is on the Washington side of the Columbia, and about an hour's drive from Portland. This is a springtime Class V run, only for very athletic groups of 16 or older.
Long story short, there are a variety of fantastic river trips around Portland for all ages and skill levels!