Deschutes National Forest

River Recreation

Recreation opportunities the river are a mixture of placid and quiet or tumultuous and energizing. The experience is an individual one. Choices are available. Two distinct zones intermingle on the river's journey from Little Lava Lake to Bend. There is a mixture of "quiet" zones and areas where life is more intense. The more "intense" recreation areas include developed campgrounds and favorite rafting and picnicking sites. Quieter areas have no trails, limited road access or raftable water.

Visitors can canoe, raft, fish or ride mountain bikes for a bit of a workout. They can also go birding, go on a picnic. walk the dog or photograph their favorite flower or friends. Some activities blend a bit of both worlds. There are some places along or near the river that are special all visitors: Benham Falls, Cascade Lakes Highway, Lava Lands, and the High Desert Museum. Most are free. and all of them are fun. Canoe rentals and guided raft trips are available in the Bend and Sunriver areas. Check the Yellow Pages.

Deschutes River recreation opportunities include more than just canoeing, rafting or fishing. although those activities are among the most popular. Nearly anywhere along the river there are quiet camping spots or sites for picnicking. There are 14 National Forest campgrounds. in addition to the LaPine State Recreation Area. Most National Forest sites have no fees. The State Park has nominal fees. There are also private facilities where a nominal fee is charged for overnight use. The National Forest campgrounds are without garbage service or domestic water.

Trails are being developed for hiking, biking and horseback riding. Recreationists can obtain more information at Forest Service offices. Please keep soil undamaged and wildlife undisturbed.

There are many access points along the Deschutes River. Although 20 percent of the river flows through private land, visitors can float or canoe through those sections but stopping on private land may not be permitted. In general, most campgrounds and day-use areas have launch sites or portage trails that allow public access to the river. When floating the river, please respect the rights of private land owners and others.

Hunting and fishing seasons and bag limits change annually in Oregon. Check at the nearest Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife office, or at any sporting goods store, for current information. Remember that all rivers—not just the Deschutes—are an American heritage to be jealously guarded, just as we guard our Constitution. An individual responsibility is involved. If not you, then who will take care of the Deschutes River?


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