Deschutes River

Warm Waters & Red Rock River Rafting

ABOUTDeschutes River Rafting

  • Raft the Wild & Scenic section of the Deschutes River, with fun, splashy rapids that are great for families and non-swimmers alike
  • Float through a beautiful red canyon carved from volcanic rock, with basalt cliffs over 2,500 feet high 
  • Native Americans used the river for thousands of years, as well as Oregon Trail pioneers
  • One of the premier fly fishing rivers in the Pacific Northwest. Fish for native trout and the elusive steelhead from the riverbanks
  • A birdwatcher’s paradise! Chances to see osprey, bald eagles, and kingfishers, as well as beavers and otters
  • Nearly 300 days of sunshine a year gives you a good chance of enjoying a sunny day on the water!

Located southeast of the volcanic Mount Hood, the Lower Deschutes River is central Oregon’s playground, celebrated for its whitewater rafting, fishing, swimming, and kayaking. With its headwaters in the Cascades, the Deschutes River is also one of the largest spring-fed rivers in the United States. Melting snow in the mountains soaks into the ground before reemerging as springs, sending the Deschutes cascading north 252 miles through Oregon until it meets the Columbia River and then the Pacific Ocean.

Designated a National Wild and Scenic River in 1988, the Deschutes River is protected for its geology, history, and numerous species of plants, wildlife, and fish. The river drops over 1,000 feet to its confluence with the Columbia River and flows through an incredible red canyon carved from volcanic basalt. Vertical cliffs tower over the whitewater, with wide talus slopes and numerous caves. The Deschutes River Canyon is not only stunning, but it also provides the perfect nesting habitat for birds of prey like bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and osprey. Songbirds, herons, mule deer, and reptiles also use the river corridor. Wild steelhead and native trout also call the river home, and the Deschutes River is a renowned fly fishing destination.

Tributary offers river rafting trips on the Deschutes River starting in Maupin, Oregon. This fun and splashy section of the river caters to all skill levels and is perfect for children over 7 and non-swimmers. Our multi-day Deschutes whitewater rafting adventure is a great way to get the family out, and it’s just two hours from Portland and Bend, Oregon!

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Let's GoDeschutes River Rafting

Dates: May
- September
Starting at


Dates: May
- September
Starting at


Dates: May
- September
Starting at



WHY GODeschutes River Rafting

Our Deschutes River three-day whitewater rafting trip is one of our most beloved wilderness trips and with good reason. The river is a feast for the eyes, tumbling through deep, red canyons and volcanic basalt. It’s also a famous fly fishing destination and home to diverse wildlife, including birds of prey, mule deer, black bears, beavers, bobcats, and otters.

Tributary offers a three-day, two-night rafting and camping adventure down the Deschutes River, starting in Maupin, Oregon. Spend your days navigating the exciting rapids and your evenings at our relaxing riverside camps, fishing from shore and playing on the sandy beaches. Our guides will cook you a delicious dinner, and after some time around the campfire, you’ll retire to your cozy tent to sleep. 

The fun, accessible rapids of the Deschutes River are great for non-swimmers and young families. With around 300 days of sunshine a year, sparkling clear water, and sandy beaches, the Deschutes River is the perfect place for a fun, all-ages family trip. 


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History & Wildlife

The Deschutes River’s headwaters are in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon, where melting snow seeps into the ground and reemerges as Little Lava Lake, from which the Deschutes flows. As a Wild and Scenic River, the Deschutes is treasured for its water quality, as well as its fish and wildlife. Black bears, otters, bobcats, and mule deer use the river corridor, while birds of prey like bald eagles and osprey fly overhead and nest along the cliffs. Steelhead, trout, and other fish species call the river itself home, and the river is highly regarded in the fly fishing community.

The Deschutes River has been an important route for people throughout history. Columbia River Native American Tribes, including the Tenino, Tygh, Wyam, and Sahaptin have used the land and river for hunting and fishing for thousands of years. The Wascoes, the Warm Springs, and the Paiutes also used the river and still live in the region today. During the nineteenth century, fur traders and pioneers, as well as Lewis and Clark, came upon the Deschutes River. The Deschutes River was also along the Oregon Trail, and the crossing was a major obstacle for travelers on the Oregon Trail. The main crossing point was near the mouth of the river, at what is today the Deschutes River State Recreation Area, and people used to camp on the bluffs there before attempting the crossing. In the late nineteenth century, there was also a ferry across the river right in Maupin, known as Hunt’s Ferry.

The Nez Perce tribe named the river ‘Towarnehiooks’, which translates to ‘enemies’, because the Paiutes, a warring tribe, lived along it. The Lewis and Clark expedition recorded the name Towarnehiooks after their first encounter with the river in 1805 and then attempted to rename it to Clark River in 1806. The name didn’t stick, however. Early nineteenth-century French fur traders named the cascading river ‘Riviere des Chutes’, or ‘River of the Falls’. The present name, Deschutes, originates from this French name. 

QUESTIONS ABOUTDeschutes River Rafting

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The Deschutes River is located in central Oregon and provides much of the drainage on the eastern side of the Cascade Range. It flows north to where it joins the Columbia River, which flows into the Pacific Ocean.

Where to stay in Bend, OR?

Many of our river guests day trip from Bend, OR to our outpost in Maupin for a whitewater rafting trip on the Deschutes. The Visit Bend website is a great resource for info on where to stay in Bend, OR.

Note that it is a 1 1/2 hour drive to Maupin from Bend, OR.

Where to stay near the Deschutes River in Maupin?

The Maupin chamber website is a great resource for info on where in and around Maupin, Oregon to stay. We are close to Portland & Bend for convenient vacation getaways.

How long does it take to raft the Deschutes?

Our multi-day Deschutes River Wilderness Raft Trip includes three days of rafting and two nights of riverside camping. We start around 8:30 AM on Day 1 and end around 4:00 PM on Day 3. 

What class rapids are on the Deschutes River?

The rapids on the Deschutes River near Maupin, OR are rated Class 2-3+. Descriptions for Class 2 and 3 rapids are:

  • Class II – Medium: Rapids of medium difficulty; swift current, passages are wide and clear.
  • Class III – Difficult: Waves numerous, high, irregular; rocks, eddies, rapids with passages that are clear though narrow, requiring expertise in maneuvering.


What river runs through Maupin Oregon?

The Deschutes River runs through Maupin Oregon. This is a popular river for white water rafting and fishing. Guided rafting trips are most popular June-September.


We hold deep respect for the ancestral Indigenous lands that we operate on. 

The Deschutes River has been home to Indigenous communities for thousands of years, including the Tenino, Tygh, Wyam, Sahaptin, as well as the Wascoes, the Warm Springs, the Paiutes, and others. These Native American tribes have cultivated a deep connection with the river, and many of them maintain its health today. The first recorded name of the Deschutes River comes from the Nez Perce tribe, who named the river ‘Towarnehiooks’.Towarnehiooks translates to ‘enemies’ because the Paiutes, a warring tribe, lived along the river.

Acknowledging the Indigenous communities whose lands we visit is a crucial step in understanding our shared history and the ongoing challenges faced by these populations today. For more insight, visit our Territory Acknowledgement page. We encourage you to learn about the people whose land we’re privileged to explore by following the links above.

Our Territory Acknowledgement is an evolving project. If you find missing information or acknowledgments, please share it with us. Together, we can ensure accuracy, inclusivity, and respect. Thank you.

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