Deschutes river rafting with Sun Country Tours

During our recent visit to Pronghorn Club, we were fortunate enough to enjoy the Big Eddy rafting trip with Bend, Oregon’s Sun Country Tours. ‘Short but sweet’, the Big Eddy trip is only 1.5 hours long (2.5 door-to-door from Sun Country) but promises more whitewater than most families see on the average float or raft trip (at least it was more than we had seen!).

Deschutes river rafting:

Our trip began with a short bus ride from Sun Country to the Big Eddy drop-in site on the Deschutes River (near majestic Mt. Bachelor), conducted by a friendly bus driver. Once on the water, we met with our guides (one per raft of 4-6 guests), donned lift jackets and were assigned oars (kids must be taller than the handle to be issued one), then started down the 3 mile stretch of river on the tour. Both the beginning and ending feature calm, still water ideal for swimming, and our guide encouraged the kids (and adults) to jump from the raft and float downstream. The kids especially loved being spun around while standing on the bow of the raft, one at a time.

The river offers a few ‘warm up’ class 1 and 2 rapids before the class 3 Big Eddy, before which the guide pulled us over to the river bank to dock and overlook the rapids before tackling them. The kids loved seeing what we were going to raft, and our guide used the opportunity to instruct the adults in the group on where to paddle and when (though I promptly forgot). Once back on-board our raft, the kids were secured in safe spots (Toby was given a special rope to hold) and we were on our way.

The whitewater of the Big Eddy was truly like a wall after wall of water; we were bounced from crest to crest, and the kids shrieked with more delight on each one! I loved the experience, despite continually looking back in the boat to ensure my kids were still in it! Afterward, everyone was laughing with relief at surviving the thrill (including the six-year-olds in our group who hadn’t been too sure about the whole thing). We celebrated with a few more small rapids, during which the kids were allowed to ‘ride the bull’ (I.E. sit on the front of the bow with no hands). We docked after the last of the rapids, and were transferred back to Sun Country.

Distance from the interstate: Five minutes from Hwy 97.

Cost per person: The Big Eddy tour is $46 per person. Other Sun Country tours start at $73.

Dining options: None. The Big Eddy tour is easily fit in between lunch and dinner or breakfast and lunch. Full day tours include lunch.

Directions: Sun Country is located at 531 SW 13th St., Bend, OR. From Hwy 97, take exit 138 toward Downtown/Mt Bachelor, then turn right onto NW Hill St. Continue onto NW Colorado Ave. At the traffic circle, continue straight onto SW Colorado Ave. Turn right onto SW Emkay Dr., then take the 1st left onto SW Donovan Ave. Take the first right onto SW 13th St.

As I disclose whenever applicable, we experienced the Big Eddy tour as guests of Sun Country Tours and Pronghorn Club. While we appreciate their hospitality, this compensation came with no expectation of a positive review.

About the author

Amy Whitley

AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly as a family travel expert at Go Green Travel Green and Practical Travel Gear, and contributes to Outdoors NW as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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  1. we’ve whitewater rafted the deschutes in bend – it was an incredible experience! YAY!

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