The North Santiam River

The North Santiam River

North Santiam Whitewater Rafting

N. Santiam River

The North Santiam River near Salem, Oregon offers thrilling Class II and III rapids that will have you screaming with excitement! If you’re looking for a fun outdoor activity to do in the area, whitewater rafting is definitely it. In this post, we’ll provide a detailed review of our experience rafting the North Santiam River and give you all the information you need to plan your own trip.

The North Santiam River starts high in the Cascade mountain range and flows into the Willamette River. The whitewater rafting portion of the river starts below Detroit, OR, and flows past Mill City, Oregon. On your whitewater rafting trip, you will enjoy breathtaking scenery including old-growth forests dense with ferns, mosses, waterfalls cascading down steep rock faces, and eagles soaring overhead.

North Santiam River Scenery

If you’re looking for a place to relax and take in the beauty of nature, then the North Santiam River is definitely worth checking out. The rapids are an amazing sight, and the trees that line the riverbank provide a beautiful backdrop. However the fires of 2020 have burned a lot of the trees, but there is still beauty to be found here.

The forest fire has been devastating for many people in the area who lost their homes and loved ones but we can find hope that nature will eventually heal itself and new life will return once again someday soon. The charred trees are set against the homes that are being rebuilt. The contrast is heartbreaking but also so beautiful. There is still an undeniable beauty in the world, even amongst all of the destruction. We just have to be willing to look for it.

Who should go on a North Santiam Whitewater Trip?

The North Santiam is a perfect river for whitewater rafting beginners, or those looking for a nearby day trip. The rapids are Class II and III, which means that they are exciting but not too dangerous. The trip takes about three hours, so it’s perfect for those who don’t have a lot of time to get away from Portland.

This whitewater rafting trip is perfect for kids ages five and up if you are hiring an experienced river guide. Feel free to contact us and we will help you get connected to our vetted list of whitewater rafting guides for this river.

Where to start my North Santiam Whitewater Rafting trip

The best place to start your North Santiam River trip is at Packsaddle Park. From there, it’s a short walk down to the river where your whitewater rafting adventure will begin! The trip down the river takes about 3 hours, and you’ll enjoy Class II and III rapids along the way. Make sure to wear sunscreen and a hat, as the sun can be strong in this area. There are also several areas where you can stop and take a swim.


The first rapid you will come across is called Swirlies. This rapid is Class III and is a great introduction to the whitewater rafting experience. After navigating through Swirlies, you will come to the rapids known as Spencers Hole. These whitewater rapids are also Class III and provide a little bit more excitement than Swirlies. You will have to navigate through some rocks on this rapid, but nothing too extreme for beginners!

After Spencers Hole, you will come across the whitewater rapid known as Carnivore. This is where the river gets much more exciting, as Carnivore is a Class III rapid! You will have to navigate through some tight spots and get wet on this rapid, but it’s definitely worth the thrill.

Next up is a class III rapid called Mill City Falls. After navigating through the falls, the rest of the journey down the river is pretty tame in comparison but that doesn’t mean it’s not still fun!

So, are you ready for some whitewater rafting on the North Santiam River? It’s a thrilling experience that you won’t want to miss. Be sure to check out our website for more information and we can also help you connect with a whitewater rafting guide for the North Santiam.

Where to take out on my North Santiam Whitewater rafting trip.

Most trips end at North Santiam State Park which is about a 2-hour drive back to Portland, Oregon. There is also a great Pizza join in Mill City to eat dinner at. I typically will camp near Detroit or make another trip to the Britenbush River.


If whitewater rafting is on your bucket list, we recommend you plan a trip to the North Santiam River! The whitewater rapids of this river are Class II and III and provide an exciting experience for beginners. You will come across different whitewater rapid throughout the course of this journey, but they’re all worth it because there’s nothing quite like experiencing these natural wonders up close and personal. If you don’t have time for a whitewater rafting adventure today or if you live too far away from Oregon, that’s okay – we can help connect you with local guides who offer whitewater rafting trips down the North Santiam River.

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