The Wind River is a classic Oregon/Washington run. Only 45 minutes from Portland, the Wind has long season and can be run at a broad range of flows. Except at high water, the Wind is manageable by intermediate/advanced boaters. The scenery is excellent throughout the run and boaters get a strong sense of isolation once on the river. The river is usually divided into an upper and lower section with the upper section being more popular.
The first rapid of consequence is just around the corner from the Trout Creek confluence. Initiation begins with a tricky ledge drop in the middle of the river before the river bends left and drops through a slalom of large boulders. There is a short recovery pool below Initiation before the river gets steeper and begins a long series of drops which culminate in the biggest drop on the upper section, Ram's Horn. There is a large eddy on the left just above Ram's Horn but getting out of your boat is tricky here. A better option is to stop on the right about 50 yards above Ram's Horn. Ram's Horn can be portaged on either side of the river.
Below Ram's Horn is a fun boulder garden that contains some big holes at high water and then the river bends to the right and funnels along the right wall. This is BTTW Right (Balls to the Wall Right). Just downstream is BTTW Left. A couple more boulder gardens and then boaters reach Climax; a sharp ledge drop that forms a nasty hole at high water. At most levels you can just bust down the middle with momentum but I'd suggest sneaking down the right side at high water.
Below Climax the river gradually starts to ease off and then eventually flattens to Class 2 for a couple miles. There are a few play-spots here and there but for the most part just relax and enjoy the scenery.
Lower Section (5 miles)
Many fun Class 3 rapids frequent the river for the next couple miles until boaters reach an obvious horizon line with steep canyon walls on either side. This is the Flume. As the river constricts and drops through the Flume, several big waves lead boaters into a huge wave/hole at the bottom. This wave/hole has been known to throw kayakers completely out of the water at high water! Big fun! There is a big recovery pool at the bottom of the rapid and a pretty waterfall enters on the left. The Flume can be scouted easily on the right but the portage requires a tricky seal-launch into a boiling eddy. I've always thought it was better just to run the rapid.
Just around the corner is a short drop with a big hole at the bottom. About 50 yards downstream is Beyond Limits, a difficult waterfall. If something happens above Beyond Limits, be sure to get out of the river on the left. There is a potentially hazardous fish ladder along the left side of Beyond Limits. Both of these drops can be scouted/portaged easily on the left bank.
Below Beyond Limits is one more big rapid before the river calms down and boaters approach Shipherd's Falls. Look for the suspended bridge high above the river and be sure to get out on the left well before the actual falls. The small drop directly above the first falls is tricky because a lot of water is channels into a dangerous fish ladder on the left. Most boaters I know portage this drop on the left and then continue to portage the falls along the fish ladder. The 4 drops that make up Shipherd's Falls have been run at a variety of levels but they are probably portaged more than they are run. Decide for yourself once you are there.
There are several options if you choose to portage Shipherd's Falls.
Below the falls the river is mainly Class 2 and then flattens completely at the Columbia River. There are some nice natural hot springs less than a 1/4 below the falls on the left. The take-out is on the right about a mile below the falls just past the Little Wind River which enters on the left.
How to get there
Put-in-Lower (GPS:45o45.226'N, 121o50.496'W)