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The Boathouse Blog

Rafting and Wildlife: What to Look for When Rafting With Us in Eastern Oregon

Welcome, fellow adventurers and nature enthusiasts! If you’re seeking a thrilling, educational, and completely immersive natural experience for your family, look no further.

At Winding Waters River Expeditions, we’re dedicated to providing families with unforgettable journeys that will foster a deeper appreciation for the natural world and create lifelong memories. In this blog post, we’ll explore the rich biodiversity and stunning landscapes you can expect to encounter on your rafting adventure with us.

The Eastern Oregon wilderness

Eastern Oregon is a hidden gem for nature enthusiasts, offering some of the most pristine and untouched landscapes in the United States. The Snake, Salmon, and Grande Ronde Rivers meander through the heart of this wilderness, making them perfect conduits for an up-close and personal encounter with wildlife and the local flora and fauna.

While many people don’t think of a desert as an ecologically vibrant environment, nothing could be further from the truth. As the rivers wind and bend through this landscape, it creates an oasis of life that needs to be seen (and experienced) to be believed.

When you join us on one of our adventures, you can look forward to experiencing a vast array of wildlife, flora, and fauna.

Here’s what you can look forward to:

Majestic wildlife

Bald eagles

The sight of a bald eagle soaring overhead will surely send chills down your spine. These iconic birds of prey are a common sight along our rivers, and their nests can be spotted in towering trees along the banks.


With their distinctive black eye stripes and sharp talons, ospreys are frequently seen hunting fish near the water’s surface. If you’re lucky, you might witness one of their dramatic dives for a meal.

Mule deer

The banks of the rivers are often visited by mule deer, graceful and agile creatures that may come down for a drink or a bite to eat.

Bighorn sheep

The rocky canyons of the Snake River are a prime habitat for these incredible creatures. Their impressive horns are a sight to behold. Make sure to bring binoculars for the best view of these incredible animals!


These playful creatures are a delight to watch as they frolic in the water and along the riverbanks. Keep your camera ready for their adorable antics.

Mountain Goats

Witness the majestic mountain goats scaling sheer cliffs with unparalleled grace, their white coats contrasting against the rugged landscapes, a testament to their mastery of Eastern Oregon’s high-altitude terrain.

Great Blue Heron

Graceful and patient, the Great Blue Heron stands sentinel along the riverbanks, its elegant silhouette poised for the perfect strike as it becomes a living embodiment of serenity and skill in the vibrant ecosystem.


With a flash of brilliant blue, the kingfisher becomes a fleeting jewel along the river. Its rapid dives and distinctive call add a lively and colorful melody to the symphony of nature surrounding our rafting journey.

Plant life


The resilient bunchgrass carpets the riverbanks, swaying in the breeze and providing a verdant backdrop to our rafting adventure, showcasing the hardiness of Eastern Oregon’s flora.


The riverbanks burst with colorful wildflowers in the spring and early summer, prickly pear cactus, yarrow, lupine, phlox, and arrowleaf balsamroot. It can be particularly fun to walk around at the nightly campsites to see these beautiful wildflowers up close!

Dogwood Willow

The delicate dogwood willow, with its slender branches and vibrant leaves, adds a touch of understated elegance to the river’s edge, enhancing the scenic beauty of our journey through its intricate and graceful presence.

Douglas fir and ponderosa pine

Two of the Pacific Northwest iconic trees can be seen at different parts of the rivers we float. These towering conifers can dominate the landscape, providing shade and habitat for countless wildlife species.

Netleaf Hackberry

Amidst the riverside flora, the Netleaf Hackberry stands as a testament to nature’s craftsmanship, with its distinctive leaves adding a touch of sophistication to the riparian scenery, making it a subtle yet captivating feature of our Eastern Oregon rafting experience.

Educational adventures for families

Our rafting trips are designed not only for adventure but also for education. We have experienced rafters on board who will share their knowledge about the region’s ecology, geology, and history.

Creating lifelong memories

At Winding Waters River Expeditions, we believe in fostering a deep connection between families and the natural world. The memories you create on our trips will stay with you forever. Whether it’s sharing stories around the campfire, marveling at the wildlife, or conquering the rapids together, our rafting adventures are an opportunity to unplug, reconnect, and embrace the beauty of Eastern Oregon.

If you’re a family living in the Pacific Northwest or looking for a remarkable family trip idea, join us for an immersive, educational, and unforgettable experience. By the end of your journey, you’ll leave with a profound appreciation for nature and a treasure trove of memories that your family will cherish for a lifetime.

Get ready to embark on the adventure of a lifetime with Winding Waters River Expeditions and the captivating wilderness of Eastern Oregon! Browse our available rafting trips and reach out with any questions you have!