The North Santiam River is considered one of the best late summer and fall runs in the state of Oregon. With plenty of exciting Class III rapids, lush riverside scenery, and a relaxing atmosphere, this is a popular raft trip for those who live in nearby Salem or Portland.
This river 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, most raft trips float by Mill City, a small town that grew up around the lumber mills of John Shaw.
Rafters looking for a real treat should consider a trip in the fall, when the trees by the riverside explode into color, and the daylight takes on a gentler tone. Flows can be high this time of year as well, as the controllers at the Detroit Dam release the waters of Detroit Lake to make room for winter rains.