Sun Country Tours Kicks Off 35th Season May 4

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Steady growth for Bend’s original whitewater outfitter since 1978. From its humble beginnings as a garage-based operation, Sun Country Tours has steadily grown into one of the most respected river outfitters in the West.

In 1978, Dennis Oliphant, who had recently graduated with a degree in commercial recreation from the University of Oregon, founded Sun Country Tours with eight employees and four rafts.

“That first run was a bit of a test, and fortunately, one that worked out well,” says Oliphant, whose father advised him early to make a career change if he didn’t enjoy what he was doing.

“Along the way we learned that providing exceptional customer service made the difference, and I would say that has been the key to our success.”

Today, Sun Country Tours employs over 90 people during the annual rafting season, and provides four whitewater rafting trips on three Oregon rivers, including the Deschutes, McKenzie and North Umpqua. The outfitter also offers

Standup Paddle Boarding lessons, rentals and tours, as well as river float tube rentals, and operates a seasonal concession on the banks of the Deschutes River in Riverbend Park, located in the Old Mill District, in cooperation with Bend Parks and Recreation District. Oliphant says one of the most rewarding things about growing his business over three decades has been the ability to give back to the community through the non-profit Sun Country Tours Foundation, which allocates more than $20,000 in cash and in-kind donations annually to Central Oregon charities.

“Pursue a business that you will be passionate about, and be a good person,” says Oliphant. “In the end you will be known for who you are, and not the business you have created.”

Specializing in family-fun whitewater rafting trips, Sun Country Tours was recently named the top activity to do with kids in Oregon by travel website Trekaroo. Sun Country Tours is headquartered in Bend, with other locations in Sunriver, Redmond and Sisters, Ore.

www.suncountrytours.com or 541-382-6277.

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