How to Float the Deschutes River in Bend, Oregon

Social distancing on the Deschutes in summer 2020

Thinking about floating the Deschutes this spring or summer? Before you head out, make sure you know all about distancing on the river done right. Your cooperation is needed and much appreciated!

  • Consider starting somewhere other than Riverbend Park, which can be extremely crowded. Farewell Bend on the other side of the Deschutes provides a beach launch and McKay Park, just below the Bend Whitewater Park, makes for a great starting point for a quick float to Drake Park.

Also, tube rentals are currently not available through Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe’s main shop or their temporarily summer location at Riverbend Park. Additionally, there will be no Park & Float station near the ice rink in 2020 and no Ride the River shuttle van. Please plan accordingly.

  • Stay 6 feet from others on land and on water.

And wait for others to enter and exit at river access points. Don’t clog up access.

  • Offer a wide berth when passing.

Also, avoid less popular sections and/or at less popular times. If you see many people or cars, go elsewhere or at another time.

  • Go solo or only with members of your household. No groups.

Don’t forget to wear your lifejacket or PFD. Be prepared, the water temperature is shockingly cold. And please keep your dog on leash. It’s the law in Bend.

  • If you’re sick, stay at home.

While restrooms are open and cleaned regularly, use yours before you leave home. And wash your hands before and after each float.

When you’re on the water, be an active and engaged advocate for the river and follow the basic tenants of the Enjoy Protect Respect project, a local campaign created to increase community engagement to enhance the overall health and usability of the Deschutes.

River Floating Options

Several river recreation options are possible. Choose a two-hour float from Riverbend Park to Drake Park or a one-hour float from either Riverbend Park or McKay Park.

The Surf’s Up in Bend

The Bend Whitewater Park is a must-see attraction for river floaters or more experienced kayakers and river surfers. Whether participating or spectating from the footbridge, the Bend Whitewater Park is the first of its kind in the Pacific Northwest and built on the location of a former dam once used for mill operations. Find maps and details at BendWhiteWaterPark.com.

Float the Deschutes River the Right Way

With an estimated 250,00 boaters, paddlers, floaters and swimmers using the Deschutes River every year, it’s imperative we all do our part to protect the river we all love so much.

Enjoy the river safely by wearing a life jacket and securing all of your gear properly

Protect the river by picking up your trash and belongings

Respect the river by only entering and exiting in specified approved access points

The Enjoy Protect Respect movement is a call to set a higher standard for behavior on the Deschutes. Let’s work together to promote a safe, responsible, and fun river experience that our community can enjoy for many years to come. It is our river, let’s keep it natural. Together as a community we can enjoy, protect, and respect the Deschutes River. Active engagement in river stewardship and respectful floating behavior – to other floaters and the river itself – are at the core of long-term river conservation and protection.