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Where to Experience a River Rafting Adventure in Oregon and Washington

By the Ablis CBD Team

Here at Ablis, we’re big fans of outdoor adventures. Hiking, trail running, rock climbing, skiing—You name it. One of our favorite ways to blow off steam (when the weather is right) is river rafting in Oregon and Washington.

Are you looking to find excitement in the class five rapids? How about a scenic float through the glaciers? 

Whether it’s your first time on the river or your hundredth, you won’t want to miss a rafting adventure in the Pacific Northwest along these four rivers: the White Salmon, the Skykomish, the Rogue River, and the Skagit.

1.White Salmon River

Class III – IV

This gorgeous area of the Pacific Northwest is protected under the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act and includes a winding river that spans almost 30 miles, with rapids ranging from class III difficulty (rapids with irregular waves) to class IV (where you’ll have to perform complex maneuvers over difficult rapids). 

Some sections of this narrow river are suitable for all levels, but some, you’ll want to be able to swim! Fortunately, there are plenty of guided rafting experiences available. Wet Planet WhiteWater boasts an exciting trip that culminates with a plummet down Husum Falls (a waterfall drop that’s sure to make your heart race). 

White Salmon River is just north of the Oregon/Washington border, near the little towns of Hood River and White Salmon. The cities are across the river from one another, even though one is in OR and one is in WA. Both towns have an amazing little local scene, making this a great option for a weekend trip: rafting one day, exploring the next.

2. Skykomish River

Class IV – V 

One look at this river, and you’ll see why it was the first to be included in the Washington State Scenic River System. The Skykomish is giant compared to the White Salmon, and it contains house-sized boulders that create massive waves between its banks.

If you want an advanced whitewater rafting experience in the Pacific Northwest, this one is a must—especially the Boulder Drop rapid. Your heart is bound to start racing as you approach this stretch of river in your raft! 

After navigating the class V rapids that may or may not knock you out of your boat, take a moment to look up and soak in the views: River banks that are lined with lush trees like firs, cedars, and maples; Mount Index and Mount Persis’ snowy mountaintops towering above the treeline. 

For those who want to experience the views without the heart-pounding rapids, check out Alpine Adventures’ Family Floats, an 8-mile trip that flows downstream from Big Eddy State Park. You can even check both off your bucket list by making it a weekend trip with a cabin stay at Harmony Lodge or Skykomish River Lodge.

3. Rogue River 

Class II – IV 

Choose between a multi-day or one day trip down one of the first rivers to be protected by the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act: the Rogue River in southwestern Oregon. It’s an exciting whitewater rafting experience, whether you camp alongside the river, stay in lodges along the way, or only stay on the water for a day. 

In its past, this river was a go-to vacation destination for Hollywood stars like Clark Gable. Although he may not have gone rafting, it’s understandable why the remote wilderness was appealing to those of fame and fortune: Peace, quiet, and excitement of the rapids. 

The Rogue River is lined with old forests, canyons, interesting rock formations and several exciting twists and turns. You can join in a group adventure on the Rogue River, or (if you’re experienced) tackle the remote and challenging whitewater as a private, self-guided group.

4. Skagit River

Class II – III

If it’s your first time whitewater river rafting, or if you’re planning a trip with someone who’s nervous about taking a tumble in the rapids, take a scenic float along the Skagit River (another Wild and Scenic River). You’ll be able to test your skills navigating the class III S-curves along your 9 to 10 mile journey, but these waves are playful, unlike others that you might encounter on rafting trips in the Pacific Northwest. 

You’ll find the Skagit in North Cascades National Park, one of the least visited national parks in the country. It’s remote, and it’s gorgeous…especially Diablo Lake, the lake that feeds the Skagit River. The water is an unrealistic tint of blue, and it’s surrounded by 3,000 foot mountains covered with fir trees. 

Needless to say, it’s a sight to see, and it’s worth making your way through the rapids to get there. Fortunately, this is one of the easiest rafting adventures on this list, and there are plenty of groups that offer guided tours. Whether you’re introducing your kiddo to whitewater river rafting or you’re gathering a group of friends for a weekend adventure, the Skagit is a great river to explore. 

After exploring the rivers of Oregon and Washington, check out a few tips from our friend Renee about how to relieve sore muscles. It’s always important to unwind after a day of working out, whether it’s out on the slopes, or on the river. Enjoy your Pacific Northwest adventure navigating the rapids! 

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Why Ablis Loves Living in Bend, Oregon

By Ablis CBD 

Jim Bendis and Max Bendis founded Ablis CBD in the city of Bend, OR: home to outdoor-loving, creative people like them. Jim settled down in Bend after graduating from University of Oregon in 1983. He says that this town is “an outdoor enthusiast’s nirvana”. His son, Max (who was born and raised here), agrees that Bend is “the hub of adventure culture in Oregon.” 

The Ablis CBD founders have a point—The city of Bend neighbors Deschutes National Forest, Willamette National Forest, and Mt. Hood National Forest. Here, there’s plenty of outdoor adventures like hiking, mountain biking, skiing, and river rafting. 

An outdoor enthusiast’s nirvana…without a doubt. 

Ablis CEO Cody Cloyd is also a Bend native. He briefly moved away to go to college at the University of Oregon, but was “drawn back [to Bend] by the people he grew up with and the never-ending list of things to do here all year” after he graduated.

The great events are just one of the many reasons why Ablis CBD loves Bend, Oregon. Read on for more reasons why they’re happy to call this town home as they share a few of their favorite things to do in Bend.

Cody’s Can’t-Miss Events in Bend, OR 

  • Bite of Bend — Food, drinks, music. What more could you ask for?  
  • Zwicklemania — This annual brewery event is going virtual for 2021.
  • Beerfest — If you love craft beer, you can’t miss this! 
  • Munch and Music — A Bend summertime tradition with food trucks and live music. 
  • Winterfest — Holiday fun with art installations, ice carving, live music + more. 

What makes this city unique, in your opinion? 

Max: “It is the land of craft. It’s hard to say what causes this, maybe it’s in the water! But it’s the craft products—from beer, kombucha, cider, spirits, wine, cbd and other cannabis goodies, all the way to handmade snowboards and other neat outdoor things. We breed craft and creativity here. That is my favorite part about Bend!” 

Read More from Ablis — Beer Guide: The Best of Bend, OR Breweries 

Cody: “You don’t have to go out of town to experience outdoor activities. The Deschutes River runs through the center of town, there are killer rock formations to climb on in town, and some of the city parks are big enough and feel like you’re out in the woods, without even leaving town.” 

City Parks in Bend, OR

Jim: “It’s a real community made up of fun-loving outdoor enthusiasts.” 

What is your favorite outdoor activity in Bend?

Max: “Mountain biking! There are a lot of great places for mountain biking around here.” 

A Few of Max’s Favorite Places to Bike in Bend (*During MTB Season)

Cody: “There’s too many to pick just one! Right now, it’s skiing and snowboarding since that’s what’s available during this season. I’m actually quite the beginner on the slopes. I only started last year! I’m still working on my bucket list of places to check out, but I have been frequenting Hoodoo and am loving it!” 

Jim: “I love running along the river and through the woods.”

If you had a friend visiting from out of town for a weekend, where would you take them? 

Max:I would try to hit as many of my local favorite outdoor spots, adventures, and—of course—restaurants and breweries! A few of my go-to’s would be The Bite, Los Jalapenos, Crux Fermentation Project, and The Podski (a local food truck park). It would be hard to sample all of Bend in just a weekend…but we could try!” 

Cody:Silver Moon Brewing for lunch and beers, and then Smith Rock for hiking or climbing if it is not too cold/snowy. If it’s dumping snow, then we check out Mt. Bachelor for some tubing, skiing, or snowboarding.”

Jim: “Mountains during the day. Downtown Bend at night.” 

Plain and simple, why do you love living in Bend, Oregon?

Max: “This is a tough one because there are so many reasons! A huge reason is being with my friends and family. A lot of us have grown up together here and have had so many good times in Bend. The outdoor activities and the delicious beer and food are a plus as well! 😉” 

Cody: “Bend has everything I need: awesome people, killer food, great views, and never a lack of active things to do.”

Jim: “It’s the lifestyle.” 

There’s no doubt about it: There’s no place like home. Want to learn more about the minds behind Ablis CBD? Meet the team. 

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Top 10 Things To Do in Bend, Oregon

Ablis is lucky to call Bend home. 

Situated in the high desert of Oregon, on the Deschutes River, alongside the Cascade mountains, Bend has just about every microclimate within a two-hour drive. 

It’s a special, little town, unlike anywhere else.

Bend is about what we’re about, which is spending as much time outdoors as possible and staying active. So, it was pretty easy for us to come up with a list of our favorite activities here in town for tourists and locals alike. 

Go Bouldering at The Depot

This is not your run of the mill rock wall. First of all, you’re outside, and it’s an actual boulder in an actual forest. You can spot it hiking the Deschutes River trail. It’s located at a clearing, where you’ll spot the chalky palm prints speckling the cliff band.

When it’s cold, bouldering indoors at the newly opened Circuit Climbing Gym is a cool experience. They have every terrain you can possibly imagine. This place is an awesome way to spend an afternoon.  

Hike Tumalo Falls

You can access some of the best hiking trails in Central Oregon from Downtown Bend. Tumalo Falls is a local favorite in the Cascades that leads hikers to the most incredible ninety-seven-foot waterfall. 

There are several waterfalls along this particular trail, and they’re all worth the six and a half miles there and back. This is a favorite of locals and tourists alike. 

If you can’t make it to Tumalo Falls, there are many other hikes close to town, like Pilot Butte.

Related: 10 Best Hikes Near Bend, Oregon

Fly Fishing on the Deschutes River

Bend is known for fly fishing so this one is a must if you’re visiting during warmer months. The Deschutes River has many good spots to fish just outside of town. The Metolius River is another great spot, but there are plenty of lakes to fish in Bend — you really can’t go wrong.

Be sure you know the rules and etiquette, have proper licensing, and remain respectful to wildlife and natural habitats. 

Visit the Tasting Rooms at Crater Lake Spirits 

Our sister company, Crater Lakes has been around since 1996 when our founder put the abundance of juniper in the area to good use. The Distillery, located in Tumalo Oregon, sits on a twenty-four-acre farm that you can visit seven days a week.

The Tumalo tasting room and Downtown Bend tasting room both offer Crater Lakes’ liquors, and the Tumalo location has free samples! The Downtown location is a swanky place to enjoy some mini cocktails and tasters and buy a bottle or two. This spot just opened up near some of the best restaurants in town, so stop in for a cocktail after dinner! 

Go Kart Racing at KS1 Speed

This indoor go-kart experience can be experienced year-round. Whether you want to go alone or with a group, you’re going to have a great time. They offer several difficulty-levels at their state-of-the-art track. Plus, their karts are all 100% electric, so the place doesn’t stink like gasoline and fumes (and we like that they’re planet-friendly). Don’t worry, the electric go-karts have just as much pep as the gas-powered karts and they’re quiet, so you won’t have to yell at your friends.

Pig Out at the Food Carts

Bend has a pretty serious food cart culture, and it’s only getting better and better. Plan your own self-guided food cart tour, you won’t regret it. 

There’s a place called The Lot where a ton of carts will park and prepare, as well as On Tap. Both locations offer a variety of cuisines and beer on tap. Their sites will give you updated lists of which carts will be where and when or you can hunt down your favorite carts via their social media, as not all of them will be at these two locations. A lot of carts in Bend float around town, so you may have to do some detective work if you’re looking for a specific cart!

Go Mountain Biking at Phil’s Trailhead

You can hike it and you can run it, but we love it for mountain biking. Bend has some of the best tracks for mountain bikers in the Pacific Northwest, and Phil’s Trailhead is a prime example. 

This scenic, forest trail comes in at 12.4 miles out and back and is a favorite amongst mountain bikers. The difficulty varies, but there’s something for everyone on this exciting ride. Phil’s absolutely made it to this list, and you’ll see why when you get there!

Related: The Best Mountain Biking Trails Near Bend, Oregon

Take a Dip at McMenamin’s Soaking Pool 

Located at the old St. Francis School, McMenamin’s Soaking Pool is truly a hidden gem of Bend. The soaking pool features the most incredible turquoise tile and an open ceiling that allows you to experience the elements while you soak. 

After your soak, you can even enjoy a glass of wine from the bar. Call ahead for reservations.

Throw Axes at Unofficial Logging

Do we really need to sell you on this? Unofficial Logging has set up the coolest space to eat, drink, and throw axes in the old Boomtown Records building. The food is off the charts good and the atmosphere has the historic, hometown-feel you can typically expect from Bend. 

You don’t even have to throw axes (but why wouldn’t you?!) and can just play spectator at the bar. The food is good enough to justify this behavior, we guess. They also offer mobile ax throwing for parties and events or if you’re just having a really tough week. 

Shop for Local Art

The First Friday Art Walk in the Old Mill District is a free monthly event and gives you the very best of Bend all in one place. 

Stroll through the Old Mill District and enjoy the best craft breweries, wines, and eats Bend has to offer while supporting the local artisans. Shops and restaurants in the area stay open late and local musicians perform late into the evening. 

It’s basically Bend’s monthly party to remind us all why we love it here! 

Sadly, the Art Walk has been postponed most of 2020, but we are so excited to be able to get out and celebrate with the community again in the future.

A lot of these locations and businesses have been impacted due to the pandemic, so they need our support now more than ever. 

Some of the items on our list are still safe options that allow for social distancing, but it’s always a smart bet to check websites for safety information beforehand! 

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