There’s something special about a river town in summer. The warm-season brims with a heady mix of possibility and memories. The days melt into a haze, merging with the nostalgia of moments past: the sweet scent of barbeque, warm grass and cascading clouds, long days, and youthful nights. The river’s surface breaks with the occasional ripple of fish, and days blush into beginning. Maupin, Oregon, with a tiny population of just 450, is mighty in spirit and its love for the water. In Maupin, you’ll find history flirting with ever-present nature, and small-town charm for days. Make this a summer to remember by chasing trails, waterfalls, and rivers in this epic spot along the Deschutes. Ready to plan your great escape? Let’s get to it.
GRAB A BITE
Maupin, Oregon is brimming with good eats & good times. Here are all the can’t miss spots to dine, drink, and feast, including insider tips for delicious fare for your stay.
Get your caffeinated buzz on: Who doesn’t love pre-adventure fuel? Before your trip to White River Falls or a day on the water, stop by the quaint coffee cabin in town, Deschutes River Coffee. As a sister company of Deschutes River Adventures, it is open 7:30-1 every day but Tuesday. They offer healthy smoothies, breakfast sandwiches, cold brews, and other goodies to kick off your morning.
To-go or stay-put breakfast: Gone fishin’ or rafting? Hit up Oasis Cafe for their incredible breakfast menu beforehand. The only place in town that offers it, it’s anything but ordinary. PS: the coffee is supreme, the classic breakfast sandwich is next level, and their sauces will explode your taste buds. You’re welcome.
Classic outdoor vibes for lunch: Check out The Riverside, situated in East Maupin by the bridge. It’s open every day but Wednesday and is an ideal stop for a hearty pre or post-river meal. Enjoy their outdoor fireplace with the family, and their extensive menu of favorites. They also accommodate gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options, so there’s something for everyone. The chicken sandwich and roasted beet salad are not to be missed.
Elevated diner-style eats: If you want a classic diner-style meal that’s been cranked up a notch, look no further than Oasis Cafe for dinner (yes, that’s where you ate breakfast). With its outdoor seating and cozy diner interior, it’s got all the historic flair and modern energy you want. Order the Oasis Burger if you know what’s good for you, and keep an eye out for their dessert specials, like the drool-worthy Reeses biscuit pudding with bourbon caramel sauce. Act fast, they sell out quickly! Enjoy your meal and beverage with a side of live music from Thursday to Sunday to embrace the charm.
Casual vibes for a cold one: On the main drag of Maupin, Rainbow Tavern is the place to be for lunch, dinner, or late-night drinks. Go for the fresh hand-cut fries, stay for the local vibe. They offer a full bar, a variety of eats, and a casual atmosphere.
STAY THE NIGHT
In this fast-paced world, it’s nostalgic to feel an idyllic sense of the old. Slower-paced railroad cars, a roaring river, and calming birds. Get ready for a mix of charming cabins, modern decor, cozy themed rooms, and tried and true camping. Whether you’re just planning a night in between river fun or desire a full weekend getaway, Maupin has it all.
Oasis Cabin Resort
When you roll into town from the east, you’ll see the Oasis Cabin Resort tucked into the landscape with its reworked 1940s diner, outdoor deck, and fun yard. Welcome to your home away from home – elevated cabin style. With 12 cabins and two vintage trailers, it’s akin to an idyllic summer camp mixed with cool, calm, and inviting energy. Owners Michelle and Andy created an infectious atmosphere, inclusive setting, and thoughtful special touches to make this an ideal stop for music, eats, and a getaway to remember.
Fun fact: some cabins were renovated in the 70s, 90s, or 2000s, so each is one-of-a-kind with a story all its own. They have 20 concerts booked through the summer for their Oasis Lawn Concert Series in front of the iconic “Greetings from Maupin” mural. Go hang out and enjoy!
Imperial River Company
Within walking distance to the river, Imperial River Company is the only resort located on the banks of the Deschutes River in Maupin, Oregon. They offer guided whitewater raft trips, have 25 Oregon-themed rooms with a few overlooking the water, and calming riverfront dining. Their whole thing is “active relaxation.” Sit on the deck and enjoy the birds, sip your coffee while watching the train roll through, and genuinely feel like you’re in a novel. Themed rooms, top-level river views, and a relaxing patio take the cake for a great one or two-night stay. The expansive lawn, swing chairs by the water, and volleyball court allows you to take your fishing pole out with the kids, read a book, or chill. Birds, railroad, river views. What more could you need?
Maupin isn’t known as the whitewater capital of Oregon for nothing. Get in the water, get on the water, hike, float, and explore. Although Maupin is heralded for its ideal location next to the gorgeous Deschutes River, there are plenty of options for a multi-day trip that don’t involve water. Lace up and let’s go.
GEAR UP AND GET OUT
First thing’s first: what did you forget to pack? We’ve all done it, and it’s not ideal when you’re about to put in. At the brand new Maupin Outdoor store, opening up this summer 2022, owner Holly Henderson is keen on getting you out there! Stop by and ask about renting binoculars for birding, bikes for cruising, or those water shoes for the kids. Pop in and chat about fly fishing, bikes, birds, runs, or just about anything Maupin-related – Holly will hook you up.
TAKE A DRIVE, TAKE A HIKE
Are you ready for the most breathtaking scenic drive you didn’t know was in Oregon? (cue Jurassic Park theme song). In an off-the-beaten-path location 4 mi off the highway, White River Falls State Park is a perfect stop-off for you and your dog, partner, kids, or just yourself to take 30 and chill. Through a scene of earth tones, rolling hills, and old barns sits a waterfall plunging 90 ft. over a basalt shelf that’s sure to take your breath away. Explore the steep mini-hike, swim, get your cameras ready, and pack a picnic or book to relax in the lush grass afterward. The calming roar of the waterfall may be just the reset you need.
RAFT, FLOAT, FISH, RELAX
A classic whitewater rafting trip down the Deschutes is a necessity as a rite of passage to Central Oregon. Luckily, Maupin boasts the best stretches along the river, so no matter if you choose a quick trip, a half or full day, or a multi-day trip, the options are endless.
Whether you’re in for a high-adventure whitewater tour or a more mild, relaxing float trip, Maupin is the place to be. With plenty of businesses offering one-day or multi-day trips (we’re looking at you, Deschutes River Adventures) you can’t go wrong. Let’s break it down, shall we?
Half-day: For a half-day trip, the river run is about 3.5 hours long and boasts the best whitewater stretches along the Deschutes, with plenty of time to relax, swim, and view wildlife. So, if you’re not too excited about the continuous high adventure, there are several places on the river to hop out the raft and swim the rapids, travel down a natural water slide, and take it all in.
Full-day: Or, take an all-day, 18-mi trip with Imperial River Company. Hit all the fun rapids, and enjoy a BBQ lunch and sand volleyball on their exclusive dock overlooking two acres of riverside lawn.
Fly fishing: Central Oregonians can just about always find an excuse to slow pace their days and enjoy some reflective time. With nothing to rush back to, relax and reset to the rhythms of birdsong and river waves as you cast along the banks of the Deschutes. Maupin is a destination spot for fly fishing, and for good reason: for one, the Deschutes River has a trout stream with native fish only, and the hatching is next level. In the summer, the Pale Morning Duns and Caddis hatches are amazing to behold. Just keep in mind that you can’t fish from a boat! New to it and want an experience to remember? Go to Deschutes Angler and hire a guide like Ben Stephenson or another licensed employee to take you upstream and show you the ropes.
Stand-up paddleboarding: Ready to slip down the river for a sundowner? Head out to a slow-moving section of the river for the most meditative mode of exploration. Notice as you float, you can view what’s underneath the water, as well as above it. Let the sparkling surface inspire your journey. Don’t be surprised if a few locals join you!
Bird watching: Birds are comforting, familiar, mysterious, and especially mesmerizing in Maupin, Oregon. Watch them flit about, find their place, defend their territory, and call mates. The charismatic creatures are intriguing in their charm as they jet along the river. They’ll dip down and squeak coyly, flirt with the day, fan their tails to the sky and make you appreciate the present moment in a new way. Stop by Maupin Outdoor and chat with owner Holly. She’ll offer tips for spying on their entertaining antics and send you on your way, armed with knowledge (and a pair of binoculars or two!)
Stargaze & gander: Enjoy a morning or evening walk or run along the banks of the Deschutes on the East end of Maupin. With a gorgeous stretch of about 14-miles of pavement, it’s perfect for a wander, bike ride, bird-watching, or enjoying the night air while camped out for fishing. Hear the ripples in the water, and immerse yourself in this one-of-a-kind river town.
IN-TOWN & UP-THE-ROAD
Local art & collector’s items: Stop in the corner store, Juniper Creek Gallery, for a tiny thrift shop and art by local Central Oregon makers. The charismatic and charming owner Sandy will tell you tales while you shop, or help you find whatever cool trinket you’re looking for. Stop in and see what all the art is about.
TO THE DALLES:
Day-trip with the family: Rainy day? Tapped out of outdoor activities? Head up the scenic US-197 for about 45 minutes north and you’ll hit The Dalles. Visit the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Museum, and peek at exhibits about Lewis and Clark, the Oregon Trail, Native Basketry, Renewable Energy, and more.
GRAVEL + ROAD RIDING
Toss your bike in the mix: Maupin and the surrounding areas have excellent gravel riding. Try the White River loop for a 50 mi ride with 3100 ft gain. It twists around the White River and Deschutes River and offers incredible views. Or, why not take a spin along the pioneer route of an old Oregon Trail road? A favorite of local cyclists, the Barlow Road route flows into one of Mt. Hood’s most striking alpine valleys. (Note: you’ll want to start your summer rides early. It gets hot!)
Maupin’s ideal location in Central Oregon just a couple of hours from Portland and Bend, and on the way to the Dalles through rolling hills, make it ideal for a summer trip or long-weekend stay. Pencil it in, you won’t regret it!
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