Episode 1 – Travel to Eastern Oregon: White Water Rafting on the Deschutes

When you look beyond the basic Portland travel guides, you’ll discover that there is so much more to explore in Oregon. It’s a place to get spontaneous, get loose and be wild.

While I’m working my way through Oregon’s 7 Wonders, I’m also learning all about Oregon’s vast history and taking in views of the ocean, the mountains, the valleys, the high desert, the cities, small towns, and everything in between.

Travel Oregon invited me to take a tour with them through Central and Eastern Oregon and I had a blast getting to know this stunningly beautiful, lesser travelled side of the Beaver State.

I have been living in Oregon for a few years now, yet I have never been further than Mt. Hood. I knew this trip out East was bound to be an adventure. Our journey would take me and a few other foodies, writers, editors and chefs about 3.5 hours East of Portland proper.

Our first adventure was with the Imperial Rafting Co. the little town of Maupin, Oregon. Population 418. The city is a whopping 1.45 square miles, but what it lacks in size it makes up in outdoor adventures.

Here’s what our day looked like.

12:10 PM We arrived to our lodge at the Imperial River Company and checked-in.

12:30 PM We suited up for our first adventure, a white water rafting excursion down the Deschutes River.

12:45 PM We get off the little yellow bus and our awesome guide, Brian teaches us the basics of rafting and some important tips so we don’t get into trouble once on the water. He was everything you’d expect (and want) in a guide; He was funny, safe, knowledgeable and full of hilarious stories. He also had that oh-so-perfect Oregonian beard situation going on.

The rules according to Brian…

  • #1 — Always look ahead
  • #2 — Keep your hand on your oar so it doesn’t become a weapon (insert gif of me knocking someone out – oops!)
  • #3 — If you fall in the water — don’t freak out!

There were a lot more rules like that last one and we all looked at each other nervously. I think I was calmer than most in our group because I had done some rafting before. I knew what to expect, but I had never been on the Deschutes before so I had no idea just how cold that water was going to be! Regardless, I was spending too much time fumbling with my GoPro helmet cam to be worried about the water. I was actually more concerned with whether or not I had pressed the record button.

1:15 PM It wasn’t long before we were approaching our first rapid. Brian suggested since I had a camera on my head, it might be fun for me to “ride the bull” I had no idea what this meant, but I eagerly jumped at the chance for a thrill. “Oh, wait, you want me to do what??” He explained that I was to sit on the edge of the raft with my legs dangling over. I was to “ride” the raft like it was a bull, and try not to fall off the front and get run over. “Gulp.” What exactly did I sign up for!? Oh well, Here goes nothing…

1:18 PM We ride our first 3.0 rapid and I FALL (into the raft) and almost die… laughing. It was a truly team bonding experience and my fellow rafters were eager to try “riding the bull” too, right after I had been the guinea pig.

2:30 PM We take a break to jump off a mini rock cliff. Temps today were in the upper 90′s so it was refreshing to take a dip in the water.

3:00 PM The first time one of our raft-mates falls in the water!! Oh no! Suddenly our gingerly stroll down the water became a rescue mission… for his shoes!! and our water bottles!! and hats!!

4:17 PM  I jump in the water to swim a 2.5 rapid! (props to Nike’s swim classes for giving me the confidence to do something like this!) Brian said afterwards “You’re going to sleep really well tonight!” #spoileralert — I DID.

5:00 PM The first time I notice that our little yellow bus has been following us down on the road adjacent to the river. Are we getting out here? Not just yet — he’s been secretly taking our photos. We all wave!! We don’t want it to end just yet!

5:15 PM The wind is starting to blow much harder, and since our backs are to the sun, it’s getting colder too. We all depart our raft and survey the items we lost (a hat, a flip flop, my GoPro clip) and we gift these items to the river. (tip: When rafting, don’t bring anything you wouldn’t shower in and don’t bring anything you wouldn’t want to part with) 

5:30 PM Riding the little yellow bus back to the lodge for a nice hot shower. I’d say we’ve worked up an appetite.

6:30 PM Fabulous dinner at the Imperial River Co. restaurant. The chef is also the daughter of the owners, and also the teacher at the local school. Oh, and guess who else made a reappearance? The bartender in the Imperial Bar was none-other-than our trusted raft guide… Brian! (like I said, this is a small town.)

Here are some of the dishes we enjoyed. This lamb from a local purveyor was probably one of the tastiest cuts I’ve had in a long time.

(Pics of dinner)

7:22 PM As if we weren’t spoiled enough. One of our travel companions was also a wine maker. He brought some of his amazing Pinots for us to have with dinner.

And, as if on cue, the neighborhood dogs played chase with each other up and down the river just as the sun started to set behind us. Such a memorable sight.

9:20 PM Sipping wine and gazing at the fireplace. I didn’t want to say goodnight just yet, so I sat by the fire, and reminisced about our awesome day rafting down the Deschutes.

What a perfect way to end a perfect day.

Imperial River Company is the only resort located on the banks of the Deschutes River in Maupin, OR. Offering guided bird hunting and whitewater raft trips, 25 Oregon-themed rooms and an exceptional riverfront dining experience.

If you’re looking to craft a unique journey through Oregon, I recommend just going to the Travel Oregon website. It’s really easy to customize your trip based on the things you like — rafting, camping, SUPing, ranching, snowboarding, climbing whatever. They have trips all planned out too… you can rough it or go as easy as you like. Anyone who considers themselves an outdoorsy person should plan a trip and spend sometime getting to know this beautiful state. There’s so much to do. What are you waiting for?

{Note: I was a guest of the Imperial River Company and Travel Oregon. Thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of this awesome adventure which I highly recommend to anyone looking for a fun and easy Oregon Adventure!}

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