4 days/ 3 nights: From Warm Springs to Maupin 

September 1st-4th 2019

Group Size: Minimum: 7 Maximum: 10


Photo by Amanda Close

Photo by Amanda Close


Join Orion guides, and geologists for a river trip exploring 44 miles of The Deschutes River Basin. Experience exceptional views, intriguing geologic formations, while exploring the shrub-steppe ecosystem of eastern Oregon. On a Lower Deschutes whitewater river rafting trip you river raft by columnar basalt cliffs and float through canyons carved into the Mutton Mountain range. Campsites feature exceptional views, intriguing geologic formations, and star-filled desert skies.

The overnight whitewater river rafting trip includes numerous rapids with the most notable being Whitehorse, Buckskin Mary, Wapinitia, and Boxcar. On the Deschutes river rafting trip, you are introduced to the white water gradually until the exciting conclusion on the final day. The Class III whitewater is ideal for river rafting enthusiasts of every age bracket. An overnight river rafting trip with Orion Expeditions includes all meals from breakfast on the very first day through lunch on the last day, professional guides, 2 geologists, a courtesy shuttle arranged at the river, and all necessary river gear.



A little background on the Geology of the Deschutes:

Quote from Geology and Geomorphology of the Lower Deschutes River Canyon, Oregon by Robin A. Beebee, Jim E. O'Connor, and Gordon E. Grant

“The basin is formed in sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks ranging from 250 million to 1.3 thousand years old, but rocks are Tertiary and Quaternary lavas or other eruptive materials emplaced during the past 65 million years. The present canyon and river course reflect a 20 million year struggle among volcanic, tectonic, and fluvial processes.”

Program Features

  • An all-inclusive river trip including delicious meals, all necessary river gear, professional river guides and geologists, and a courtesy shuttle arranged at the river.

  • Float 44 miles of the Deschutes River.

  • Enjoy Class I - III Rapids, and riverside overnight camping.

  • Learn through outdoor explorative activities and hands-on experiential learning.

  • Visit unique geologic formations along the Deschutes, accompanied by geologists.

  • End each day relaxing in camp while our guides prepare sumptuous and satisfying dinners.

  • Retire each night to your tent or lay out under a brilliant sky full of stars.

Photo Credit: Lizzie Bridges

Activity Level: Requires fitness adequate for day hiking up to 3 miles round-trip, over moderate terrain, willingness to camp, readiness to enjoy a group experience.

Cost per person: $849. Costs include all food from breakfast on Day 1 through Lunch Day 4, 2 expert geologists, 4 river guides, group equipment, and transportation from Maupin to Warm Springs. Personal items, speciality snacks and beverages, and transportation to and from Maupin, OR, are not included.

Tents, and sleeping cots can be rented in advance upon request.


Day 0: (evening before the trip). Meet and Greet. Your guides will meet you at Maupin City Park campground the evening of between 7-8pm. Here you will get to briefly meet your guides, and other participants. You will receive a river bag that will house your belongings for the duration of the trip.

Day 1: Morning breakfast, before getting on the river. We will be doing a few introductory activities before getting on the river as well. Our lunch spot will be about 7 miles down the river just before Trout Creek. After lunch we will go into an overview of geology and what to look for on the Deschutes River Basin Plateau before seeing some cool features in the afternoon. We will have another 11 miles on the river in the afternoon before ending up at Lone Pine camp for the evening.

Day 2: After breakfast we will get on the river, shortly after getting on the river we will be pulling over to scout White Horse Rapid. This rapid is full of great geologic features that make up the rapids. Geologists Bruce and Brent will discuss the natural history of the river, discussing how some of the rapids were originally formed. The guides will discuss the way we will be navigating through the geologic features. It will only be about 3 miles down to lower whitehorse camp, where we will camp for the evening.

Day 3: Wake up and have breakfast at Lower Whitehorse Camp. After finishing breakfast we will hike to the cave and viewpoint above camp for another geology field trip. After lunch we will have another 11 miles down the Buckskin Mary camp. After the sun goes down we will our final dinner celebration to end another beautiful day on the river.

Day 4: After breakfast we will take a geology field trip to observe Buckskin Mary Rapid. After getting into our river gear and getting all packed up we will raft down through Boxcar and Wapinitia rapids. Our final day will consist of 12 river miles before ending in Maupin, Oregon.

Activity Level: Requires fitness adequate for day hiking up to 3 miles round-trip, over moderate terrain, willingness to camp, readiness to enjoy a group/family experience.



Bruce Bjornstad is a licensed geologist/hydrogeologist and recently retired as a Senior Research Scientist at Battelle's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. He received a Bachelor’s degree in geology from the University of New Hampshire and a Master’s degree in geology from Eastern Washington University.  During his 35-year career he has written numerous documents and reports on the geology of the Northwest as well as two geologic guidebooks on Ice Age floods that transformed the region as recently as 13,000 years ago. Bruce is also the creator of an online YouTube Channel titled: “Ice Age Floodscapes”.  For recreation he enjoys skiing, windsurfing, hiking, and aerial photography.



Geologist Brent Cunderla grew up in the Midwest (Rochester, Minnesota) before realizing that the winters were too cold, the summer’s too humid, and the bugs too numerous. He received a B.S. degree in Earth Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in 1983 and an M.S. degree in Geology from Portland State University in 1986.

From 1988-2015 Brent worked as a geologist with the Department of the Interior (USDI) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Wenatchee, Washington.  Brent has worked with the National Park Service and Ice Age Floods Institute on the designation of the “Ice Age Floods-National Geologic Trail” which was authorized as an NPS unit in March 2009.  He has taught numerous courses and lead field trips emphasizing the Geology of the Columbia Basin, Ice Age Floods, Channeled Scabland, and glacial geology of the Waterville Plateau for a variety of groups such as the Elderhostel, North Cascades Institute , The Nature Conservancy, Ice Age Floods Institute, Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center and various other Federal and State agencies, schools and local organizations. On his time off Brent and his family enjoy many activities in the outdoors including fly fishing, X-country skiing, and hiking in the Washington Cascades.  


Got questions? Feel free to email us at