By Michael Lanza

The three kids in my raft, ages 10 to 13, have decided to pit themselves against the two in the other raft in our party in a contest to see who gets wetter in the rapids on the Grand Ronde River. They shout at me, “Hit the waves! Hit the waves!” The bracingly icy water smacks them in the bow, drawing peels of laughter, but a hot sun saves the kids from teeth-chattering hypothermia.

We’re spending three days rafting a 45-mile stretch of the Wallowa and Grand Ronde rivers in northeastern Oregon, a trip that offers a class II-III whitewater adventure, much of it on federally designated wild and scenic river, with no sign of civilization. Sightings of deer and elk are common, as well as the occasional black bear. Campsites are spacious, quiet (except for us), and scenic, with views of pine forest rising up steep canyon walls of craggy cliffs and grassy slopes carpeted with wildflowers in late spring. Spending about half or less of each day on the water, we have plenty of time for hanging out in camp or hiking. Read my story about that delightful family adventure and see more photos and a video.