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Trip – North Santiam River

a large waterfall over a body of water

The North Santiam River is considered one of the best late summer and fall kayaking and whitewater rafting runs in the state of Oregon. With plenty of exciting Class III rapids, lush riverside scenery, and a relaxing atmosphere, this is river a popular trip for those who live in nearby Salem or Portland.

This river is a 92-mile tributary of the Santiam River and originates high in the Cascades near Mount Jefferson and swiftly moves through a peaceful forested valley. With vine maples, Douglas firs, and large boulders in the river, the North Santiam is an example of quintessential Oregon scenery. Rafters will glide through crystal-clear water where they can still see rocks and fish at the bottom of the river, fifteen feet below. Wildlife includes deer, grouse, mink, and even river otters.

For those interested in geology, there is volcanic rock scattered throughout the river valley, which predates that of the volcanic mountains in the distance. And for those who want a peek into Oregon’s history, many kayaking trips end at Mill City, a small town that grew up around the lumber mills of John Shaw.

The North Santiam is impounded by Detroit Dam from Detroit Lake for flood control, and there is a second season for this river in the fall when the dam is released to make room for winter rains. Boaters can count on spectacular scenery as the leaves change color and the light softens, making this one of the best times of year to explore North Santiam.

Packsaddle Park to Fishermens Bend Park

This is easy kayaking with Class 1 or 2 rapids and a fun 3-4 foot small waterfall near the end of the trip you can choose to go over or walk around.

Difficulty: Class II + , Class III , Class IV

Run Length: 6.5 miles

Good Level: 1000-10000 cfs

We recommend using our Tomcat Solo or Tandem.

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