A Vacation for Everyone

Bend, Oregon at sunset on the Deschutes river


Finding a vacation spot that will satisfy the entire family can be a daunting and difficult thing to do. When planning a vacation for more than two people, compromises are usually made and, in the end, everyone is left feeling gypped. Don’t dread your family vacation, and don’t settle. This year, take a vacation that will leave everybody happy.

Bend, located in central Oregon, offers outdoor enthusiasts and shopaholics alike a beautiful, relaxing, and fulfilling vacation.

Shopping and Touring

Downtown Bend features a cosmopolitan vibe offering home décor, fine dining, fine art, jewelry, and more. Shop the Columbia, Nike, Rack Room Shoes, and other factory outlet stores. Visit the High Desert Museum, full of cultural history, art exhibits, animals, and engaging programs and shows.

The Sun Mountain Family Fun Center is sure to be a hit with kids of all ages. Featuring a wide range of arcade games, bumper cars, go-karts, and mini-golf, you can spend quality family time having fun and making memories.

After a full day of shopping and fun, relax and dine at one of the family-friendly restaurants overlooking the beauties of the Deschutes river front.

Outdoor Adventures

Beyond a shopaholic’s dream come true, Bend holds thrilling adventures for explorers from all walks of life!

In the winter, experience endless fun. Ski, ice skate, or bobsled at Mount Bachelor. No matter your experience level, the runs are waiting to be carved. If you’re not a skier, you’re not left out! Tubes and snowshoes are also available for snow sport fun.

With a semi-arid climate, Bend stays at a pleasant cool throughout the spring summer and fall, making it the perfect place to enjoy outdoor activities all year round. Bring your bike or rent one there and explore the single-track trails and old logger roads surrounding the town.

Hike Tumalo Falls. A 3.8-mile round-trip hike, Tumalo Falls features a 97-foot natural waterfall that is sure to impress.

Walk a lava tube. The Lava River Cave is part of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument and offers self-guided exploration through the cave created by lava approximately 80,000 years ago.

Visit one or all 25 bodies of water surrounding Bend. Swim, fish, raft, kayak, canoe, and more! Famous for the fly fishing, Bend offers fly fishermen of all skill levels the opportunity for the catch of a lifetime. With Rainbow, Brown, Lake, Bull, and Brook trout in the area, a delicious feast, and a great story, is only a cast away.

If fishing doesn’t give you a thrill, try whitewater rafting! High Desert Outfitters offers rafting adventures on the Deschutes, McKenzie, North Santiam, Owyhee and Rogue. Experience the rush of working to stay right-side-up through rapids and enjoy the high of accomplishment at the end of the rafting stretch.

Don’t settle on a vacation this year. Go where everyone wants to go. Experience luxury along with the natural wonders of nature no matter the season in Bend, Oregon.

Get back to Grassroots on the Deschutes

The Deschutes river winding through green Oregon woods

Benefits of Being in Nature

Studies have shown that engaging with nature, even for just a few minutes, can have a profound and positive impact on our mental performance and everyday lives. Nature provides us with many physical health benefits including:

• Vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential to our health, but it can be difficult to get it from our food alone. Getting out into the sun provides our bodies with a better source of Vitamin D which, in turn, helps us maintain a healthy immune system and stronger bones.
• Improved Mood. Studies have shown that doing physical activity outdoors can measurably improve mood and self-esteem. Better yet, a study by the University of Essex showed that subjects doing physical activity near water had the best side effects.
• Improved Sleep. Spending too much time indoors, away from natural light, can throw off our circadian rhythm which is naturally tied to the sun’s schedule. Getting outside can help our circadian rhythm get back in sync, allowing for a better night’s sleep.
• Increased Brain Function. Being outdoors can increase concentration skills, creativity, and provide a quick wakeup. Opt for a brisk walk outside instead of that afternoon caffeine rush; get the quick high without the later crash.
• Stress Relief. Studies have shown that subjects who spent a night in the forest vs. subjects who spent the night in the city were happier, more relaxed, and less stressed.
• Decreased Risk of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) and Nearsightedness. Staring at a screen all day can put us at risk for CVS and nearsightedness. Getting outside can help combat the negative effects that screens can have on our eyes.
• Exercise. Ultimately, it’s hard to get outside without doing some sort of exercise. Even a quick walk can have positive health benefits.

The Place to Go

Perhaps you’re looking to take a sabbatical at the beach. Perhaps you’re looking for a mountain getaway. Or maybe you’re looking to find something in between. No matter what you’re looking for, the Deschutes river in Oregon has exactly what you need.

The Deschutes river runs 252 miles from its source at Little Lava Lake until it merges with the Colombia river and travels on to the ocean. Along the Deschutes, you’ll be able to see a variety of natural plant and wildlife including ponderosa pine, black sagebrush, cheat grass, juniper, and wildflowers. Amongst the wildlife you’ll see river otters, beavers, long tailed weasels, chipmunks, elk, ducks, geese, and swans.

Dotted with towns, the Deschutes offers visitors a well-rounded vacation including shopping, adventure, water activities, hiking, and more.

Activities to do on the Deschutes

There’s no better way to see the beauty that the Deschutes river has to offer than from the front row. Go whitewater rafting or camp, hike, or fish. High Desert River Outfitters offers rafting and fishing adventures on the Deschutes river. Choose from half day trips, full day trips, and multi-day trips and take in all that the Deschutes has to offer.

Get out onto the Deschutes and hit refresh.

The Osprey Has Landed

Osprey return to the same nest every year to mate.

Osprey return to the same nest every year to mate.

A familiar sight has returned to the lower Deschutes river this past week and it’s a sign of the changing season. Every spring migrating Osprey return to their nests perched high above the river to mate and rear their young, they are just one of the many animals that call the Deschutes river canyon their home for the season. And now that the Osprey have returned the river seems even more abuzz with activity.

The Osprey mate for life and return to the same nest year after year and are very territorial. They are birds of prey in the raptor family and are sometimes referred to as a sea hawk, fish eagle, or river hawk and can be found on every continent except Antarctica. Osprey are born fish hunters and they have specialized features like a reversible outer toe that makes it easier to hold on to slippery prey like fish. Their eyesight is adapted to allow for better vision searching for fish in the waters below often from heights as high as 100 feet or more. The Osprey weighs in around 2 to 4 and a half pounds and can grow to more than 2 feet tall and have a wingspan almost six feet wide! The shape of their wings allow them to hover in place momentarily just before they plunge feet first into the river grasping food with tarsi that reticulate ensuring that they don’t lose their freshly caught dinner.

Osprey have evolved into fishing machines.

Osprey have evolved into fishing machines.

On our signature Deschutes raft trip it’s not that uncommon to witness an Osprey circling high above your head excitedly chirping just before it dive bombs into the river with a big splash and then takes flight again with a trophy redside trout taunting one of the nearby fishermen with it’s prize catch.

Over a hundred years ago the two railroad companies that built track along the Deschutes river cut down practically every tree that grew along or near the river to build their rail lines devastating the Osprey’s natural habitat. And, when the Osprey began to rebuild their nests in the newly erected power lines along the tracks they were shot on sight as a nuisance further decimating their numbers.

Man made nesting boxes are a common sight on the lower Deschutes.

Man made nesting boxes are a common sight on the lower Deschutes.

Today, between the put in at Harpham Flats to the take out at Sandy Beach there are more than half a dozen man made nesting platforms that have been erected to ensure that the Osprey have adequate places to build their nests and their numbers have come back exponentially and now they thrive once again soaring high above the river. When you see the same birds return year after year and watch them raise their young from hatchlings to witnessing their first flight you can’t help but feel like an old friend has come home to roost.

Deschutes Anglers Anxiously Wait For The Annual Spring Stonefly Hatch

Orange Stonefly (Pteronarcys californica)Springtime on the lower Deschutes River is one of the best times of the year to cast dry flies for fighting redside trout as they prowl for two types of stoneflies that begin to hatch and emerge from the rocky river bottom and take flight. The giant orange stonefly (Pteronarcys californica) measures almost 3 inches long and it’s slightly smaller cousin the golden stonefly (Hesperoperla pacifica) can grow up to 2 ½ inches and the trout go berserk for both of these bugs throwing caution to the wind and gorging themselves during the prolific spring hatch.

Hooking into a Deschutes Redside is an awesome experience.

Hooking into a Deschutes Redside is an awesome experience.

Anglers who are familiar with this seasonal feeding frenzy will plan months in advance to have a chance to experience the thrill of hooking the large and aggressive reside trout with a dry fly the size of your little finger! During the hatch the stoneflies will number in the thousands per river mile and their numbers are matched by the trout that feed on them. I have even heard of local fishing guides on the Deschutes experimenting with preparing the large flies in batter and frying them until crisp and making tacos!

The large dry flies are easy to see on the surface and trout devour them relentlessly.

The large dry flies are easy to see on the surface and trout devour them relentlessly.

Anglers turn out in droves during this annual event and there is more than enough action to go around for everyone. Although some of the more easily accessible sections of the river above or below the town of Maupin can see lots of activity there are miles and miles of secluded riverbanks that are best reached by a boat.

We provide completely outfitted Deschutes fishing trips that vary in length from a single day experience up to a week long fishing expedition. We will provide you with an experienced and knowledgeable guide, a riverside deli lunch, and plenty of extra flies and leader to keep you in the action. Our multi day adventures are carefully planned to provide you with all the comforts you’d expect like deliciously prepared meals, top of the line camping equipment, and guides that will make every effort to ensure that you’re having the kind of trip that you’ll want to come back and enjoy year after year when the flies hatch.

The Great Railroad War On The Deschutes

Today Maupin is a whitewater rafting and trout fishing destination in Oregon.

Today Maupin is a whitewater rafting and trout fishing destination in Oregon.

Maupin is a city on the Deschutes River that has transformed itself from a tiny railroad whistle stop to a whitewater rafting and fishing destination in Oregon. With its bird eye view perched high above the banks of the Deschutes, Maupin was witness to America’s last great railroad war, survived a fire in the 1920s that burnt most of the town to the ground, and weathered several major flood events that swept through the canyon.

Originally named Hunt’s Ferry after the owner of a nearby ferry that gave safe passage to many folks traversing the rugged river canyon was later renamed to Maupin Ferry by the town’s founder William H. Staats, and finally shortened to Maupin in 1909. Today, Maupin is home to about to about 400 or so full time residents. During the peak rafting and fishing seasons that number grows temporarily as people migrate here to spend the spring, summer, and fall working for one of the local whitewater rafting or fishing outfitters. Maupin prides itself on its pioneering spirit and small town charm with small mom and pop’s businesses that cater to not just locals, but to the thousands of people that pass through each season on their way to splashing through rapids on the river, or hooking a prized steelhead trout.

Dry and barren landscape did not impress the first surveyors to the area.

Dry and barren landscape did not impress the first surveyors to the area.

In an 1854-1855 survey of Pacific Coast railway routes, Henry Larcom Abbot described Central Oregon as place “separated from the rest of the world by almost impassible barriers.” According to Larcom, “nature seems to have guaranteed it forever to the wandering savage and lonely seeker after the wild and sublime.” But, little more than 50 years later, this rugged western outpost was on the front line of America’s last great railroad war. In the dawn of a new century, two competing railroad companies, the Oregon Trunk and Deschutes Railroad, began construction of two separate lines at the confluence of the Deschutes and Columbia rivers. These railways would parallel each other up river through the inhospitable Deschutes River canyon with the goal to connect large pine mills to the south near Bend, Oregon to the rest of the country.  In 1909 the Oregon Trunk Railroad Company was bought by James J. Hill who immediately put his best engineer on the project to complete what was once thought impossible. By mid summer, both railroad companies were blasting their way through the steep volcanic basalt rock canyon that encased the river on either side and ultimately into a head on collision that would be infamously recorded as the last great railroad war in America.

Rival railroad work camps battled across the river trying to impede each other's progress.

Rival railroad work camps engaged in sabotage trying to impede each other’s progress.

The back breaking work was the burden filesof many immigrant workers from all over the world including Chinese, Italians, Dutch, and the Irish to name just a few. And in the worker camps tensions ran high with work crews a literal stone’s throw away from their rivals. Stories of sabotage, fist fights, and gun fire across the river were common among the groups, not to mention the racial divide between completely different cultures. But, after the death of E. H. Harriman, who owned the Deschutes Railroad company, his successor along with Oregon Trunk’s James J. Hill decided to quit the squabbling and work together to complete the railway and share already completed stretches of tracks.

Immigrants workers provided the back breaking labor.

Immigrants workers provided the back breaking labor.

The blood, sweat, and tears that were shed in the construction of these railroads are not forgotten today by the folks who visit Maupin. One of the old railroad grades that was abandoned has been re purposed into the Deschutes River Access Road which provides convenient access to campgrounds, fishing holes, and boat ramps along the river of which we might not be able to enjoy without the sacrifices made by those workers more than a 100 years ago.

When you book your Deschutes River Rafting Trip with High Desert River Outfitters you’re booking a date with history. You’ll get an up close and personal view of a landscape that was once considered too rugged and inhospitable, but was later tamed with brute force, determination, and engineering ingenuity. You can use our Online Reservation System to check dates and availability or call our office at 1-800-461-5823 for more information.

A Whitewater Raft Guide; Not Your Regular 9 to 5 Job

Guides in training scout out a section of river with our experienced guides.

Guides in training scout out a section of river with experienced guides to discuss the safest passage.

Have you thought about what it might be like to give up your day job to become a whitewater raft guide for a summer? Or, maybe you had an awesome experience on a whitewater rafting trip in the past and you want to take it to the next level and learn new skills that will give you the confidence and know how to guide your own raft down a river? Every spring whitewater rafting outfitters throughout Oregon offer whitewater raft guide training for the curious and adventurous alike to explore their limits, learn valuable navigation and rescue skills, and make new friends within the community of river folk.

As a registered outfitter with the Oregon Marine Board we are required to make sure that all of our guides on staff are qualified to guide on the rivers that we are permitted to operate on. But, the OMB doesn’t set a training standard only minimum requirements. For example, each guide must have a current First Aid and CPR certification and has to have at least one trip under their belt down the stretch of river that they will be working on. However, we take our responsibilities to ensure our guests’ safety and overall experience with the utmost priority and therefore require a much higher standard for our team of guides and that standard is reflected in the amount of time and energy we put into our training every year.

High Desert River Outfitters has permits to operate commercial rafting trips on more than half a dozen different rivers throughout Oregon. Taking the time and energy to properly train prospective guides to be able to safely and confidently guide on all these rivers is a huge commitment not only for us, but for the guide in training as well. There is no better teacher than experience and when it comes to our guests’ safety  you can’t have enough experience and that’s why you can ask even our most veteran of guides that the learning never really stops. Just when you think you’ve got one thing figured out you soon discover that another door opens and the learning begins all over again when you equip yourself with new skills.

A guide in training gets her turn in the hot seat as she commands her crew through this section of whitewater.

A guide in training gets her turn in the hot seat as she commands her crew through this section of whitewater.

Beginning in April we will kick off our 2015 rafting season with guide training not just for the newly initiated, but as well for our returning staff to sharpen their skills they learned from each previous season. Our experienced guides are a crucial part of our training as they provide insights and tips to the new guides to help them navigate some of the do’s and don’ts that befall most of the first year guides. Most of the guides in training have had some sort of rafting or kayaking experience, or a friend who is a guide and thinks they just might have what it takes to be successful working as guide. And, for most it can be the most rewarding job experience they’ll ever have if they commit to taking advantage of not only the training provided by the company, but take it upon themselves to go above and beyond and get their fellow trainees and thrill seeking friends together to go rafting as much as possible.

It’s not always about getting it right the first time. Mistakes and blunders have a much greater and positive influence for learning and you’ll often hear experienced guides saying all the time ‘it’s not a matter of if you’ll flip your boat, but a matter of when’. And, it’s the ‘when’ and how you react that matters most. For some guides in training they discover after their first flip and watching helplessly as everyone and everything that was in the raft is now floating away down river that maybe this isn’t for them. But, then there are those who have the same experience and they react much differently. For them, time seems to slow down and they act confidently and with purpose. They stay calm and shout out commands to the others doing their best to keep tabs on everyone and the gear as they pull themselves out of the river and climb on top of their overturned raft acting quickly to get it right side up and start plucking people and gear from the river.

A good guide knows how to deliver a good time and gives the guest the kind of trip they want and expect.

A good guide knows how to deliver a good time and gives the guest the kind of trip they want and expect.

One thing that we always tell guides in training is that we can teach you to guide a raft, but we can’t teach you to be you. Guides must be a natural connector with people from all different backgrounds and personalities, as well as, diplomatic in their approach to ensuring that their guests are having the kind of trip that they want and expect. Balancing the needs of a group of people in a raft who were perfect strangers before the trip even began can be tricky at times, but that’s part of the job description for any guide. It’s important for guides to remember that this is not his or her’s trip, but it’s the guests’ trip and you must tailor the trip experience to your guests. Some folks wanna hear all about who you are and how in the world you got such a ‘cool’ job and they laugh at all of your cheesy jokes. Others care less who you are and your brand of humor and are more concerned with your ability to get them and their family and friends down the river safely. Whatever the case, a good guide knows exactly how to keep their guests engaged and having exactly the kind of trip they want and expect.

Learning the skills to safely navigate the river, reacting with confidence when things don’t go exactly to plan, building cohesiveness among a group of perfect strangers in a raft, and delivering a whitewater rafting trip that your guests want and expect are the keys to being a successful whitewater rafting guide. And, even if you don’t decide to quit your day job after all the training you’ll receive, at the very least you’ll have made friends for life and you will always be a part of an amazing community of river folk.

To learn about all the employment opportunities and guide training for the 2015 rafting season you can checkout our Employment page, shoot us an email to, or give us a call at 1-800-461-5823.






High Water Adventure For Local Rafters On River

Rainie Falls was completely underwater during the most recent flood event earlier this month.

Rainie Falls was completely underwater during the most recent flood event earlier this month on River.

Earlier this month the Rogue River hit a high water mark of just over 100,000 cfs (cubic feet per second) after three days of locally heavy rains overwhelmed the tributaries that feed into the river. It’s only hit this benchmark 15 times since 1960 with two historic flood events in 1964 and 1997 when the river raged at over 200,000 cfs.

The Statesman Journal reported on February 12 that three local guides Will Volpert, Aaron Lieberman, and Hunter Connolly, the youngest in the group who actually kayaked, accomplished what may have been the first successful rafting and kayaking attempt at flood stage on the wild and scenic section of River. What is typically a 3 or 4 day whitewater adventure covering more than 35 miles at normal water flows turned into a 4 and a half hour white knuckle once in a lifetime experience for these thrill seekers. They said that a river which they know very intimately was nearly impossible to recognize. Rainie falls, a class V waterfall drop, had disappeared somewhere below the brown frothing torrent and the normally winding river pushed out of its banks and raged in nearly a straight line, according to the guys.

At normal flows Blossom Bar is notorious for hanging up rafters on one of it’s many house sized rocks.

Nearly all of the major flood events that have occurred on the River typically happen in the winter and spring months when a combination of heavy rains and/or snow melt inundate local tributaries. Our Rogue River rafting season begins in late April and runs through to October and the ‘preferred’ water flow for the wild and scenic section that begins at Grave Creek is 1000-6000 cfs. It’s not unusual during the regular whitewater rafting season to have isolated high water events that can push the gauges close to 10,000 cfs, but still a mere fraction of the recent flood.

Local black bear coming the river's edge for an easy meal.

Local black bear coming the river’s edge for an easy meal.

A Rogue River rafting trip on the wild and scenic is truly a bucket list kind of trip. There are very few places left in the lower 48 where you can still experience unbridled adventure like you will find on the River. Within the 35 mile wild and scenic corridor it’s not uncommon to see majestic bald eagles gliding on thermals above the trees, playful river otters swimming along the river bank in search of food, and curious black bears sniffing the air for an easy meal. We pride ourselves in providing a once in a lifetime whitewater rafting opportunity to experience Mother Nature on her terms.

Rogue River rafting is considered one of the best multi-day adventures in Oregon.

Rogue River rafting is considered one of the West’s most scenic whitewater rafting adventures.


We can plan and execute a Rogue River rafting trip that will exceed all your expectations providing you with the most experienced and knowledgeable guides, state of the art gear and equipment, and what we consider a five star dining experience with thoughtfully prepared meals that will have you rethinking what ‘roughing it’ really means. In fact, all you need to bring on a Rogue River rafting trip is your sense of adventure and a waterproof camera to capture all those Kodak moments you’re guaranteed to experience along the way.

For more information and help with planning your trip check out our Rogue River Rafting page or call our office at 1-800-461-5823.


The Deschutes and McKenzie Rivers Will Spring To Life Despite Low Snowpack Levels.

A less than average snowpack can put a heavy strain on Oregon’s most popular rafting rivers.

As a whitewater rafting company in Central Oregon we depend on annual snowfalls in the Cascade Range to the west and the Ochocos to the east  to pile up, melt, and replenish the reservoirs that feed the Deschutes and McKenzie rivers. The National Weather Service is reporting that Oregon is experiencing a drier and warmer winter season than normal and snowpack monitors around the state are reporting less than half of average levels at western and central stations.

The snowpack season typically peaks around April then the snow begins to melt and the water runs off of the peaks into the lakes and streams below. If the snowpack at the end of the season is less than average it puts a greater strain on the river and streams that support natural habitats, irrigation farming, and local businesses like ours.

Fortunately, the Deschutes and McKenzie rivers literally have an ace in the hole which makes them a little less vulnerable during a drier winter season. Large underground aquifers that are the result of tens of thousands of years of snowmelt that has seeped through the porous volcanic layers provide a bit of a buffer during less than average snow years. The Deschutes and McKenzie rivers are born out of these huge underground reservoirs and the countless freshwater springs that bubble up from deep below the surface.

We consider ourselves pretty lucky to be able to live, work, and play on some of Oregon’s most consistent flowing and scenic rivers. And, although we may have gotten off to a slow start on this year’s snowpack levels, we have been doing a rain dance here at the office and we’re confident that Mother Nature will bless us with another great summer season. The National Weather Service is predicting that the drier than normal weather pattern that has dominated the Pacific Northwest will give way to a more soggy spring season ensuring that our local reservoirs will have plenty of fresh water to keep us floating, splashing, and having fun this spring and summer.

You can always count on the Deschutes River for big water action and fun.

You can always count on the Deschutes River for big water action and fun.

So, go ahead and plant the seeds now with your family and friends and start planning your Deschutes Rafting or McKenzie Rafting trip with us. Last season was one of our busiest and folks are already calling and booking another trip for this season and taking advantage of one of our Web Specials. You can use our Online Reservation system to check availability and book the perfect day or date. You can also call our office and speak to one of our HDRO team members for some extra help planning that perfect summer vacation!

Whitewater Rafting Can Help Keep Your Business From Sinking

seals teamAs your business grows and competition in the marketplace heats up, so do the stresses and demands put upon your employees. To help improve team dynamics, build trust, and facilitate communication within the workforce more and more companies are discovering unique team building activities to help achieve these goals.

Whitewater rafting takes everyone in the raft working together as a single unit following the directions from their guide to safely navigate hazards on the river and to respond quickly and safely to possible swift water rescue situations. Your success as a business is also dependent on your employees’ ability to work together as a cohesive team and follow specific directions to achieve your desired business goals.  And, just like a good manager who can lead and motivate their staff in the right direction, an experienced raft guide can quickly assess the skills, strengths, and weaknesses of their team and make decisions about how to best convey critical information in their safety talk, placement of paddlers within the raft, and how to best approach each rapid to ensure that everyone is having a fun ride and most importantly staying safe.

Whether you’re a small business with just a handful of employees or a Fortune 500 company, it’s important to regularly check the pulse of your staff and offer team building opportunities to raise moral, build camaraderie, or learn new skills to boost productivity. A good group activity for your business should be an experience that is challenging, relevant, and accomplishes a definable goal.  “A team-building activity is any positive, shared experience that reinforces positive, team skills,” says David Jacobson, founder of the New York City-based corporate entertainment and team-building company TrivWorks.  

Whitewater rafting is a positive shared experience that brings people together as a team. There can be many challenges to overcome in a single raft with up to 8 different people each with their own unique physical and emotional limits. Rising to the occasion and facing these challenges together as a team is important because learning happens when you’re outside of your comfort zone. Whitewater rafting is an extreme sport, but because of advancements in technology and training making it safer, it has become an activity that has been attracting the attention of more and more companies each year as a great team building experience. We have dozens of businesses big and small that have now made whitewater rafting with High Desert River Outfitters an annual team building event for their company. “If the exercise is good, your team will take what they did or learned back to the workplace,” says Jacobson. “They’re going to collaborate and communicate better.”

We’re not only experts at having a fun time on the river we are also very passionate about logistics and planning. Facilitating a team building activity can be a daunting task, but let us take the worry and hassle out of it. We can help you plan the kind of team building experience that will reinvigorate your staff and have your employees working and communicating more productively as a team.

To learn more about corporate team building opportunities with High Desert River Outfitters please call our office 1-800-461-5823 or shoot us an email at


McKenzie River Rafting Has Something For Everyone

Upper McKenzie River

The upper McKenzie River just east of Eugene and Salem is truly one of Oregon’s crown jewels of whitewater rafting. This wild and scenic landscape was born out of the violent volcanic history that for thousands of years shaped the land with fiery lava flows that spewed across the land damming ancient creeks and rivers and forming crystal clear alpine lakes. One of the areas most popular and frequently visited lakes is appropriately named Clear Lake. Clear Lake is the result of an ancient lava flow that cut off and dammed the ancient McKenzie river and is now the headwaters. The lake is famous not only for it’s clarity, but also for the number of trees that still stand frozen in time just below the surface from when the valley was flooded centuries ago. There are rowboats available for rental and you can row out onto the lake and view the trees and explore hidden coves around the lake. Not far downstream from where the river pours out of the lake it falls over a series of dramatic and picturesque waterfalls, Sahalie and Koosah Falls, before bouncing along the rocky river bottom and continuing it’s course downstream toward the Willamette River.

Sahalie FallsThe upper River above the town of Bridge is considered one of Oregon’s most pure and certainly one of the coldest rivers, but hidden along some of the banks are geothermal vents that create natural hot springs. One of the most popular is Belknap Hot Springs Resort which is located on the banks of the River. Hot water from nearby springs is pumped into a large open pool area where for a nominal fee guests can warm up with a hot soak after a fun day of whitewater rafting and exploring on the River. There is lodging and RV camping available at the resort and there is more camping nearby right on the river at Paradise and Olalee campgrounds.

HDRO offers a variety of guided rafting trips on the River to suit your needs, ranging from relaxing family outings to high-adrenaline whitewater adventures. We provide wet suits, splash jackets, and booties for these trips to help keep you comfortable and having a good time.

Our most popular McKenzie River rafting trip is our Full Day 18 mile whitewater adventure. We meet our guests at the Frissell boat landing east of the town of Mckenzie Bridge on highway 126 and we pull off the river at Forest Glen boat landing downriver near the town of Blue River. We stop about halfway at McKenzie Bridge Campground where you’re treated to a deli style buffet lunch and refreshments before continuing on this Class III whitewater adventure.

Along this stretch of the River the views are spectacular as we raft in the shadow of the nearly 11,000 foot peak of Mt. Jefferson as the river snakes it’s way through towering groves of Western red cedar and Douglas fir trees. The whitewater is nearly continuous and nonstop as the river drops from the higher elevation in the narrow upper valley and begins to widen and flaten out as we approach our takeout point. It truly is a trip with something for everyone and the natural beauty will have you gasping from one bend in the river to the next.

Follow this link for more information about our popular McKenzie River Rafting trip, or give us a call at the office and we’ll be happy to assist you in your trip planning. You can also checkout our online reservation system for trip dates and availability.




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