Named during the fur trading era from a French word meaning “River of the Falls,” travels 252 miles north from Little Lava Lake in the Cascade Mountains to join the Columbia River. From its origin near Bend, Oregon, the Deschutes River provides a stable, high-volume flow allowing it to be navigated for its entire length throughout the entire year!
The stark contrast of the high, arid country of broken reddish and brown cliffs to the vegetative, fringe green edging the clear flowing water gives the boater a moving platform for viewing this ever-changing wonder of Nature.
Two sections of the Lower Deschutes River are popular for whitewater rafting and kayaking; the upstream section which is known as the Big Eddy lies above the city of Bend between Dillon and Lava Island Falls. The lower section is from the town of Warm Springs to just above the exciting 15 foot drop at Sherars Falls (portage). Together they total roughly 58 miles. On the other side of Sherars Falls lies another 42 miles that river runners will find to be a mellow trip with a few class 3 rapids.
A favorite trip for many is the 3 day wilderness trip on the Deschutes River, where you have a chance to immerse yourself in nature and be pampered by Guides preparing meals, amazing Deschutes River camping and additional information about the area.
Shorter trips options on the fun and splashy Oak Springs section (Warm Springs to Shears Falls) include Boxcar rapid and more class 2 and 3 rapids. These are easy to get to as day trips from Portland and Bend.
Designated as a National Wild & Scenic River in 1988, the river offers opportunities for overnight boating trips, hiking, biking, hunting and fishing. With a drop in elevation from 1,393 feet to 160 feet at its confluence with the Columbia River, the Canyon contains a diversity of landforms, vegetation and color. Carved from rugged volcanic basalt flows, the vertical cliffs, wide talus slopes and numerous caves not only provide dramatic landscape, but afford ideal nesting habitat for bald eagles, peregrine falcons and osprey. Most of the 300 different species of wildlife utilize riparian habitats adjacent to the river which provides outstanding opportunities for rafters to view waterfowl, heron, beaver, river otter and many reptiles. The river corridor supports critical elk and mule deer winter range habitat.
Only 2 hours southeast of Portland, Oregon, the lower Deschutes River is central Oregon’s playground. World-renowned for its fly fishing, the Deschutes is home to Columbia River redband trout (known locally as “redsides).
With around 300 days of sunshine a year, what better place to be than on cool, sparkling clear water that offers Class II to IV rapids, sandy beaches and a host of visual stimulus.