Call Us Today 1-877-426-7238
Info +
Menu +

The Gearboat Chronicles

Best Shore Lunches & Meals for Whitewater Rafting

Dreaming of a whitewater rafting adventure? You’ve probably been imagining flying through Class IV rapids, seeing incredible wildlife, and soaking up the sun on the sandy banks of the Grand Ronde or Snake River. But have you thought about what you’ll eat?

In today’s post, we’ll share our favorite shore lunches and meal ideas for whitewater rafting trips. You’ll also learn about the tools and equipment you’ll need to cook a great meal and much more.


Rafting works up adrenaline…and your appetite

A fun day of rafting is a surprisingly good workout. Over the course of a multi-day rafting trip, it’s important to eat to keep your energy up. When you’re hungry you’ll also be less attentive, which could lead to unsafe rafting.

Also, don’t forget the importance of staying hydrated. The air in Eastern Oregon is dry and we get lots of sun. It’s easy to become dehydrated.

Remember, rafting should be fun. And we guarantee you’ll have more fun when you’re eating and enjoying delicious food and drink.


Meats & proteins

If you’re planning a rafting trip yourself, start planning your meals around protein. Your body needs protein for energy and there are lots of great options. A few popular choices include:

  • • Steaks
  • • Hamburgers
  • • Sausages
  • • Chicken
  • • Eggs (for breakfast)

For the most part, these are easy to cook on a portable grill or over a fire. Some simpler high-protein options may include:

  • • BLT sandwiches – You can make bacon ahead of time or use vegetarian-friendly “fake” bacon
  • • Tacos and burritos – Another easy option that’s easy to pre-make and carry along. You can even use beans or tofu in place of meat.

Don’t forget about fish either. There’s nothing more delicious than a fresh-caught fish cooked right on the banks of the river.


Vegetable Proteins

If you or a member of your rafting party are vegetarian or vegan, here are a few plant-based proteins:

  • • Tofu and tempeh – Very versatile, healthy, and easy to grill, fry, and bake. Both can also be used in place of eggs in scrambles, too.
  • • Falafel and hummus – Made from high-protein chickpeas, they’re great for making pitas, snacks, and more.
  • • Fake Meats – Tofurky and Field Roast are producing amazing meat alternatives. From burgers and hot dogs to sausages and “wings,” there’s plenty of great-tasting choices.



Even on a rafting vacation, don’t forget your veggies. They’re delicious, healthy, and a great addition to any meal. A few great ways to include vegetables in your rafting menu include:

  • • Cold salads – Fresh greens and local vegetables with a simple dressing makes a great addition to any meal.
  • • Grilled vegetables – What’s better than grilled corn on the cob or peppers and onions? You can also make grilled veggie kebabs with tofu or mushrooms.


Side Dishes

When planning sides, focus on versatile options that are either easy to prepare in a single pot or that can be made before you leave. A few of our favorites:

  • • Wild rice
  • • Stuffed red peppers
  • • Smashed potatoes
  • • Fruit salads
  • • Quinoa and farro salads
  • • Chips and dip or guacamole



Whatever you do, don’t forget about the most important meal of the day. Plan a high-energy breakfast and you’ll be ready for whatever the day has in store.

  • • Scrambled eggs or tofu
  • • Bacon
  • • Pancakes and maple syrup
  • • Muffins and pastries
  • • Steel cut oatmeal with nuts, berries, and all the fixins
  • • Breakfast burritos



Like we said, it’s important to stay hydrated. Sometimes you want something a little more flavorful than plain water. Think about bringing:

  • • Iced tea and lemonade mixes
  • • Cucumber, lemon, and mint to flavor your water
  • • Fruit juice concentrates
  • • Gatorade
  • • Soda (for a treat)



Keep your snacks simple. You want easy snacks that will keep your energy up and that don’t take any effort to prepare. Our favorite staples:

  • • Trail mix with high-protein salted nuts
  • • Natural fruit leathers
  • • Beef jerky and charcuterie
  • • Cheese and crackers



You didn’t think we were going to forget dessert, did you? Who doesn’t love a sweet treat at the end of a long day?

  • • When campfires are allowed, bring chocolate, graham crackers and marshmallows for s’mores!
  • • Homemade cookies are delicious and easy to bring along.
  • • We love dutch oven desserts like pineapple upside down cake, brownies, berry & peach crumbles.


Cooking on the River

Unfortunately, cooking on the river it’s as easy as turning on the oven or microwave in your home kitchen. You’ll need to be smart and plan ahead.


One of the biggest challenges on the river is keeping ingredients cool and fresh over the course of a multi-day trip. Start with high-quality coolers and plenty of ice. Separate items into coolers based on when they’ll be used. Keep your day’s drinks and snacks in one cooler and the food you’ll be eating tomorrow in another. And create a “meat cooler” to keep meat juices from contaminating other foods. And consider cooking meats prior to your trip. Remember to open your coolers as little as possible. Ice preservation is the name of the game, especially in the hot summer temperatures. The more you open your coolers, the faster ice will melt.


Campfires aren’t always allowed due to dry weather conditions and forest fire risks. So you’ll need another heat source like a camp stove. Stoves with more than one burner make it easy to prep large meals. Just don’t forget to bring enough fuel for your whole trip.

Pot and pans

Leave your non-stick teflon pans at home. On the river a cast iron dutch oven, skillet, and griddle are all you’ll need. They hold heat, cook evenly, and are easy to clean.


Staying healthy on the river on a multi-day expedition is a #1 priority. Prevent food contamination by washing hands A LOT. Have a hand wash station on hand and supply hand sanitizer at the front of every food buffet line. And wear latex/nitrile gloves when preparing foods, especially raw meats.


Let us handle the cooking

Here at Winding Waters River Expeditions our guided whitewater rafting adventures include meals. Our guests LOVE it. They don’t have to do any planning or worrying about what and how to cook. They just enjoy the outdoors and the world-class rafting. Then when it’s time to stop for a meal, they’ll enjoy fresh gourmet food prepared from local ingredients.

We can accommodate virtually any diet, including:

  • • Lo-carb/keto/paleo
  • • Vegetarian/vegan
  • • Gluten free

Contact us to learn more.