The season on the Deschutes River in north central Oregon is year-round due to dams that lie upstream from the prime overnight stretch that Orion River Rafting utilizes for its multi-day river trips. Unlike free-flowing and more notorious rivers around the West, the dam-managed Deschutes rarely fluctuates more than a foot or so in height throughout the year. Consequently, while many rivers in the western United States may be overflowing their banks in May, the Deschutes River is, more likely than not, flowing higher from the spring melt, but in no danger of flooding.
May and June are prime months for river rafting the Deschutes because the weather in eastern Oregon (east of the mountain ranges) is drier and warmer than the maritime coast to the west. Even so, the river is running higher than it will at any other time of the year, providing the maximum amount of excitement and adventure out of the numerous Class II+ to Class III+ white water rapids sprinkled throughout the course of the trip. July and August may have the heat of summertime in a high desert environment, but the months of May and June should be plenty warm without the crowds.
The scenic beauty of the basalt canyons are enhanced by the vibrant green lichen in the early spring and the lush green grasses on the hillsides. By July, the grasses will be a distant memory. The solitude of spring is also a primary reason to choose a river trip prior to the end of June, or before school is out across the Northwest.
Another reason to select a May overnight river trip date on the Deschutes is the ability to build campfires (contained by a firepan) and meals cooked by your guides out of Dutch Ovens. Dutch oven meals can make or break a river trip, and our guides excel in the art of cast iron cooking. On June 1st, a river wide fire ban goes into effect.
A family river rafting trip on the Deschutes River is an excellent choice any time of the year; however, if you have the luxury of opting for a spring time date, you will be pleasantly surprised at all of the pluses - enhanced white water, fine weather, fewer people, verdant landscape accompanying the basalt cliffs, a warming campfire each night and delectable baked meals from Dutch Ovens.