What is the Upper Gorge of the White Salmon River, and why is everyone talking about it? Its magical! The canyon walls shoot straight out of the river. Cold freshwater springs spurt right out of solid rock. The whitewater is highly challenging. The accomplishment is rewarding.

Zoller’s Outdoor Odysseys decided several years ago that we wanted to offer something extra special that no other rafting companies offer. We obtained special permits which gives us the furthest upstream launch on the White Salmon River. Then we designed specialized rafts, “Mini Rafts”, that are sporty small making all of the sweet whitewater of the Upper Gorge even more zesty.

Get small, to go big. That is the style of rafting on the Upper Gorge of the White Salmon River. The smaller the raft, the bigger the hit. Combine that with the above average whitewater on the Upper and you will have the most aggressive commercial rafting in the Pacific Northwest. You’ve got to remember, this is commercial whitewater rafting so everything we do is reasonable with an amazing success rate. Yes, there are other stretches of whitewater that are far more difficult and some of it even deadly. That extra wicked stuff is what high adventure river guides do on their time off.

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Is the Upper Gorge of the White Salmon for everyone? Nope. It’s not. The Upper is for those who are ready to paddle aggressively in a few key rapids and are mentally and physically prepared to respond if they happen to go for a swim. All the time I get asked if the Upper is appropriate for first time rafters. Absolutely yes! What we need for a sweet run on the Upper are paddlers that will follow directions 100%. If I yell, “give me three forward” and you crack off three strong strokes of the paddle, then we are going to grease this exceptional run down the river.

After paddling the super fast Upper Gorge, the adventure pours into a section of the Middle Gorge and then concludes with Husum Falls. Husum Falls is legendary in the whitewater community. It’s known as the highest commercially run waterfall in the U.S. It’s a thrill. It only last about three seconds, but it is a thrill. There is nothing like sending it off a waterfall and dropping vertically (a bit of a free fall) and then plunging into that frothing hole at that bottom. Hang on tight and hold your breath!

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Come join me on the Upper Gorge of the White Salmon River. I’m 39 years into my career of guiding on this beautiful river and want you to experience all the beauty and fun that I’ve been experiencing for decades.

Mark Zoller has been guiding whitewater rafts on the White Salmon River since 1985. He lives in and loves adventures in the Columbia River Gorge