The summer’s swelter is ramping up. It’s time to get wet and wild with a local white water rafting trip. Suit up and grab your floatation devices because you’re about to beat the heat, get a good dose of adrenaline and make memories that will last a lifetime. Read on to find the perfect guide and river ride for your crew.

photo: River Drifters via yelp

River Drifters

With over 35 years of experience under their belts, your family is bound to feel safe and excited about hitting the rapids with the River Drifters guides. This company has been rafting with families since 1979 and promises a personal touch. They welcome children as young as 4 years-old and grandma and grandpa are even welcome to join in. If you are worried about safety, take comfort in knowing that they are experts when it come to picking the right trip for your crew’s abilities. They make sure every person in the family has the gear and information they need to stay safe while having the time of their lives.

River Drifters offers family excursions on the Deschutes  and Clackamas Rivers that are manageable for river rats of all ages and a whole lot of fun. The Clackamas is closest to Portland if you are planning a quick trip. They have a half day package that promises to be an unforgettable run during the late-summer season. It takes rafters through eight miles of some of the river’s more famous rapids. When you get to where the lower water levels are, the ride gets splashy and a bit technical, which will please the adrenaline junkies in your crew. The half day trip is said to be filled with back-to-back rapids and beautiful calm pools. Expect a one-of-a-kind experience. (Full-day excursions are available as well.)

Full and half-day rafting trips on the Deschutes River are available for families who are willing to make a quick drive. The Deschutes is one of the most popular rivers in Oregon and promises a trip through the beautiful desert landscape and plenty of sunshine. These trips are perfect for first timers, and booking ahead is advised.

$55/person for half-day trips
$84/person for whole-day trips
Phone: 800-972-0430

photo: Aryn C. via yelp

Blue Sky Rafting

Based 30-miles from Portland, Blue Sky has Oregon rafting adventures designed specifically for families. Choose a half-day rafting experience or spend your whole day navigating the white caps of the Clackamas. Whether your family is filled with beginner or advanced paddlers, there’s something for you.

According to the professionals at Blue Sky, the Clackamas River is perfect for young kids in the summer: the water level is less intimidating, the weather is warm and their s plenty of time for having a whole lot of fun. If your group includes older kids that need a little more excitement, the guides will pick a boat that guarantees a wet and wild ride. If you run the Clackamas and want to try something new, N. Santiam River is a favored family spot.

Blue Sky staff suggest that you wear a swimsuit and t-shirt for your ride. Remember to bring shoes (wetsuit, booties, river sandals, aqua socks), hat for sun protection, sunscreen and water.

$55/person for half-day trips
$90/person for full-day trips
Phone: 503-630-3163

photo: Heather Sunderland via flickr

Ouzel Outfitters

White water rafting is perfect summer experience to share with your loved ones and Ouzel Outfitters has a suite of trip options that are sure to fit your crews needs. Go on a  multiple-day trip down the Rogue, Deschutes, Lower Salmon, John Day, Owhyhee or North Umpqua Rivers. Stick to a half-day or full-day trip that lets your see your favorite wilderness area from a new vantage point, or have the professionals at Ouzel put together  a private custom trip for your family reunion or a birthday party.

Ouzel is known for being run by highly organized professionals. When you travel with them you get a full-service and fully-outfitted experience. This means they provide all of the equipment and meals and help you arrange for anything you might need. You can expect the coziest of sleeping bags and extra padding should you choose and overnight excursion and they are happy to accomodate your dietary needs as well.

Phone: 800-788-7238

Take your family on a multi-day rafting adventure with OARS. They offer rafting trips designed for families on the Owyhee River and the Rogue River (which is closest to Portland). Oregon’s Rogue River is one of their most popular excursions for families. It includes plenty of whitewater, lots of wildlife, delicious meals, and the route is electronic free so you really get some true family bonding time.

OARS has been guiding guests on the Wild & Scenic Rogue River since 1969, so you know you are in good hands with their seasoned guides. You can choose from three, four or five day trips that will keep you coming back for more. Rest assured, the folks at OARS take COVID-19 seriously. For more information of all of the precautions and guidelines they have in place to keep their customers safe, visit their site here.


—Annette Benedetti


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