Deschutes River Overview
Rafting: Deschutes River, Oregon
Whitewater kayaker showboats on the Deschutes River near Bend, Oregon (courtesy, Central Oregon Visitors Association)
Deschutes River at a Glance
Price: $
River Rapid Class: Upper: II-IV; Lower: II-III+, IV
Trip in Miles: Upper: 3; Lower: 13 to 98
Trip Duration: 0.5 to 3+ Days
Season: Upper: May-September; Lower: April-October
Raft Types: Paddle Raft, Oar Raft
River Sections: Upper (west of Bend), Lower (Warm Springs to Columbia River)
Nearby Towns: Bend, OR;The Dalles, OR
Gateway City: Bend, OR
Driving Times: Portland, OR: 2.25 to 3 hours, depending on section

"Suspense lurks at every corner when floating a whitewater serpent that can change on you suddenly from Class I to Class V rapids. French explorers called it Riviere des Chutes and intended no hyperbole when they deemed it the River of Falls. This river resembles a roller coaster of whitewater as it races along for 87.4 miles from Little Lava Lake to Bend. But make no mistake, this ain't no Coney Island, expect the real and the raw as you plummet down a series of harrowing waterfalls like Pringle Falls, Tetherow Logjam, Benham Falls, Dillon Falls, and Lava Island Falls.

The 53-mile stretch from Wickiup Dam to Bend is a fabulous stretch of whitewater for the serious rafter. Over this length, you will float some calm waters, but you will also hit some Class V rapids that test the skills of experts and some difficult lava-crossing portages that sap the endurance of even the most fit. There are plenty of intermediate routes, however, which offer less risky thrills. If you want professional assistance, three commercial rafting guides run the stretch from Aspen Camp to Lava Island.

Upstream from Bend are opportunities for innertubing and canoeing, with some powerboats thrown in.

Remember that although the river has stretches of calm water, it is hazardous. Observing safety guidelines merely reduces the risk, it doesn't eliminate it. ""If in doubt, scout it out"" may sound like a cliche, but it is an excellent rule for water safety. Wear a Coast Guard approved personal flotation device when on the river and wear or carry other equipment appropriate to the segment of the river. Know where the major rapids are located on the river. Expect to portage around several log jams and major (Class lV-VI) rapids."

Published: 28 Apr 2011 | Last Updated: 25 Aug 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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