Lower Deschutes River Boater Pass, Lower Deschutes Wild and Scenic River - Recreation.gov (2022)

Lower Deschutes Wild and Scenic River

It’s time to discover the wonders of the Lower Deschutes River! Float through steep walls of basalt cliffs to enjoy world-class fishing, exciting whitewater and beautiful scenery on this spectacular river. Every day offers opportunities to experience a diverse community of fish, wildlife, vegetation, and the incredible geologic and cultural history of the region.

The Deschutes River begins high in the Cascade Mountains and travels 252-miles north to the Columbia River. The last 100 miles of the river’s path are known as the Lower Deschutes River, which is designated as both a Federal Wild and Scenic River and an Oregon Scenic Waterway.

The Lower Deschutes has a unique flow that is fairly uniform compared to other similar rivers. The annual fluctuation between flows is small due to the many springs that feed the river in the upper reaches, and the effects of the Pelton Reregulation Dam, which delivers a uniform flow for the last 100 miles.

Whitewater rafting, kayaking, drift and jetboating are all available on the Lower Deschutes River. For thrilling whitewater, the most popular section is the 10 mile day-float from Harpham Flat to Sandy Beach, with rapids rated up to Class III+. Anglers from all over the world are drawn to the river for the abundant trout and steelhead fishing. The river also offers opportunities for overnight boating trips, drive-in camping, hiking, mountain biking and hunting.

The Lower Deschutes uses a Boater Pass system to protect it from excessive human impacts. Boater Passes are required year-round for day and overnight use for anyone using a watercraft or floating device for transport. As part of that protection plan, we also ask you to learn and practice “Leave No Trace” ethics and leave no trace of your visit.

If you plan to camp overnight in a drive-in campground, be sure to arrive early to get a campsite, as no reservations are taken and campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Lower Deschutes has a rich cultural history, providing sustenance for thousands of years to the Warm Springs and Wasco people moving seasonally through the area. In the 1800s, due to increasing pressure from settlers, many moved to the lands now known as the Warm Springs Reservation, which borders much of the west side of the Lower Deschutes. Members of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs retain their fishing rights and can be seen dip net fishing the traditional way on platforms over the river just below Sherars Falls.

The elevation drops from 1,393 feet at Pelton Dam to 160 feet at its confluence with the Columbia River. The most significant drops in gradient are Sherars Falls (River Mile 44), with a vertical drop of 15 feet, and Whitehorse Rapids (River Mile 75), with a gradient of approximately 35-40 feet over one mile.

The Lower Deschutes River is managed cooperatively by three agencies: Prineville District Bureau of Land Management; the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs; and Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

Notifications and Alerts

  • 10/05/2022 Lower Deschutes River Segment 1 Toilet Closure Notification: Please be advised that one of the toilets in Segment 1 is full and currently unavailable for use. One of the toilets at Davidson Flat is closed and boaters should use the other toilet in the area, or use their portable toilet systems. We will reopen this facility once it has been serviced.As a reminder, all boaters must carry and use the approved human waste pack out system.

Permit & Season Information

Boater Passes are required year-round for anyone using a watercraft or any other floating device as a means of transport on the Lower Deschutes River. The Lower Deschutes is divided into 5 segments. The Boater Pass is only valid for the segments and dates for which it is issued and for only one group. Each person may be named as group leader or alternate leader on only one Limited Entry Pass at a time.

Access is restricted to a limited number of boaters on:

(Video) Lower Deschutes 2020

Segment 1: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 15 - September 15

Segment 2: No Limits

Segment 3A & 3B: No Limits

Segment 4: 7 days a week, May 15 - October 15

Learn more about the 5 unique Lower Deschutes River Segments.

Limited Entry Pass Availability

Passes become available in a batch rolling release as follows:

• 26 weeks in advance - 50% of passes released

• 4 weeks in advance - 30% of passes released

• 1 week in advance - 20% of passes released

Need to Know

When purchasing a Boater Pass on this river, I certify and understand that:

  • Each person may only be named as trip leader or alternate leader on one Limited Entry Boater Pass at a time;
  • Once purchased, the trip leader and alternate leaders cannot be changed;
  • The group leader or an alternate leader named on the Boater Pass must be present the entire trip;
  • This Boater Pass is for a private trip unless the trip will be guided by a commercial outfitter currently authorized by the Bureau of Land Management to operate on this river;
  • The Boater Pass is only valid for the segments and dates for which it is issued and for only one group;
  • There is group size limit of 16 people in Segments 1, 3B (Pine Tree to Macks Canyon) & 4; and 24 people in Segment 2 & 3A (Buckhollow to Pine Tree), regardless of the number of Boater Passes purchased by the group.; and
  • Boater Pass fees are non-refundable.

Securing your permit also comes with agreement from you and your guests to the following requirements:

Campfire/Smoking Restrictions – due to extreme fire danger

(Video) White Wild and Scenic River!

June 1 - October 15: no open fires, charcoal fires or portable propane fires are allowed. Commercially manufactured gas or propane camp stoves and shielded lanterns are allowed. Smoking is allowed in non-public buildings, vehicles, in a boat on the water, or while standing in the water.

October 16 – May 31: fires must be contained in a metal fire pan or similar metal container with sides at least 2 inches high, and is elevated above the ground. All charcoal, ash and unburned contents of a campfire must be carried out. A BLM-provided metal campfire ring may be used in lieu of a fire pan.

Trash/Human Waste Disposal

Pack out all trash. Do not use vault toilets for trash disposal. Overnight boaters must carry and use an approved RV dump station or SCAT machine compatible human waste pack out system. Plastic bag systems are prohibited except for commercially available human waste bags. Used human waste bags must be carried in a sealed, leak-proof container and disposed of according to manufacturer instructions. A human waste system must be set-up and available for use as soon as practical upon arrival at campsite.

Motorized Boating

Motorized boating is allowed in Segment 3 and 4. Motorized boating is not permitted in Segment 3 from June 15 -September 30 or in Segment 4 on alternate weekends (Thursday - Sunday) from June 15 - September 30. See Segment 4 Motorboat Schedule.

Camping Information

• Private property, including the Warm Springs Reservation except by permit, is closed to public use. No trespassing.

• Camping at boat-in sites is limited to 4 consecutive nights except when camping w/ motorized watercraft.

• When motorized watercraft are allowed, camping in one campsite is limited to 9 consecutive nights from May 15 - October 15. After these limits are reached, ALL camping equipment and personal property must then be removed and cannot be relocated within 1/4 mile of the same site for 14 days.

• Quiet hours are from 10:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. Generators, amplified music and other excessive or loud noise is prohibited within this time frame.

• Camping is not allowed on islands.

Observe all local, state and Federal laws and regulations. See the complete list of the Rules & Regulations for the Lower Deschutes River (PDF).

(Video) Steelhead Fishing - Deschutes 2022

Additional Passes and Permits

  • Warm Springs Tribal Permit: A Warm Springs Tribal permit is required for use of Harpham Flat and Sandy Beach access points.
  • Aquatic Invasive Species: Ensure all boats are clean, drained, and dry to avoid spreading aquatic invasive species. An Oregon Waterway Access Permit is NOT required on the Lower Deschutes River (exemption for a federally designated river for which a separate fee system is in place).
  • Moody Island Pass: To access Moody Island near Heritage Landing, self-pay at Heritage Landing boat launch. A Deschutes River Boater Pass is not required below Moody Rapids and to access the Island across from Heritage Landing.

Additional Information

Fee Policy

Reservation Fee

A $6.00 non-refundable reservation fee is required for each Boater Pass purchased.

Recreation Fees

Each person boating on the river must also pay a Recreation Fee in the amount of $5.00 per person per day.

Cancellation Policy

Cancellation Policy

If you have not printed your boater pass, you may cancel it online without a refund. Cancelled spaces will be returned to the available quota immediately. To cancel your Boater Pass, please go to your current reservations with Recreation.gov and follow the instructions. If you have already printed your boater pass, contact the BLM at 541-416-6700 to cancel.

Change Policy

Once purchased, no changes to the boater pass are possible. Alternate leaders must be listed at the time the Boater Pass is purchased.

Contact Information

Mailing Address

3050 NE 3rd Street Prineville OR 97754

Mailing Address

PO Box C Warm Springs OR 97761

(541) 553-1161

(Video) The Deschutes River: An Oregon Whitewater Destination

Mailing Address

1645 NE Forbes Road, Suite 112 Bend OR 97701

(541) 388-6211

Phone Number

541-416-6700

Photo Gallery

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FAQs

Do I need a permit to float the Deschutes River? ›

Boater Passes are required year-round, for both day and overnight use, for anyone using a watercraft or any other floating device as a means of transport on the Lower Deschutes River. Access is restricted to a limited number of boaters on some segments during peak use periods.

What class rapids are on the Deschutes River? ›

These features also make the Deschutes ideal for Family Rafting vacations. You will get the opportunity to run mostly class II-III rapids on the Deschutes with a little bump to class IV for Oak Springs rapids near the town of Maupin.

What is considered the lower Deschutes River? ›

The last 100 miles of the Deschutes River from Pelton Dam to the mouth of the Columbia is considered the Lower part of the Deschutes. It was designated an Oregon Scenic Waterway in 1970 and a Federal Wild and Scenic River in 1988.

Are motor boats allowed on the Deschutes River? ›

Motorized Boating: Motorized boating is allowed in Segment 3 and 4. Motorized boating is not permitted in Segment 3 between June 15 and September 30 or in Segment 4 on alternate weekends (Thursday - Sunday) from June 15 - September 30.

Can you drink alcohol on the Deschutes River? ›

Be sure to wear sunscreen and hydrate—and don't be a jerk. Drinking alcohol while floating on public waters is illegal. Whatever you bring on the river, make sure it leaves the river with you. That includes sunglasses, shoes and keys—secure your things!

How long does the Bend float take? ›

The float from Riverbend Park to Drake Park takes roughly two hours. The float from Riverbend to the Colorado Avenue Bridge is about an hour. Plan your outing accordingly. Plan ahead and go when it's slow.

What is the highest class of river? ›

Class V: EXTREME

This is the highest classification for commercial rafting trips requiring strong paddlers who are experienced and looking for the ultimate. Small waterfalls, drops and holes are common. Rapid paddling and maneuverability required.

Can you kayak the Deschutes River? ›

Location: The stretches of the Deschutes River we kayak are devoid of rapids, and provide a peaceful paddling experience for all ability levels.

Can you fish the Deschutes River? ›

The Lower Deschutes is likely Oregon's most well known and most sought after spot to fly fish for both Wild Trout and Steelhead. With trout populations running over 3500 trout per mile, the first 50 miles below Pelton Dam offers some of the finest trout opportunities in the state.

Are barbless hooks required on the Deschutes River? ›

Deschutes Trout

Only barbless hooks on lures and flies are allowed. The use of bait is prohibited. No fishing from a floating device is allowed. Deschutes Redsides are a unique subspecies of rainbow trout called "Desert Red Band Trout" or (Onchryncus Mykiss gairdneri).

Can you fish from a boat on the lower Deschutes River? ›

While the drift boat or raft is the best way to make your way down the river, fishing from a boat isn't allowed; so anchor up, get out and wade those riffles.

Can you use bait on the Deschutes River? ›

Deschutes River Salmon Fishing

Also, ODFW allows bait fishing in a limited area below the falls, and bait is often the most effective way to catch salmon in the river. Check the regulations for details before fishing with bait, or you're likely to get a fat fine for using bait in the wrong areas.

Can you swim at Haystack Reservoir? ›

Largemouth bass, rainbow trout, kokanee, along with crappie and catfish are some of the species that inhabit the water. Recreational boating is also popular with paved boat ramps available at Haystack Campground as well as at the West Shore Campground. Swimming is also permitted.

What kind of fish are in Pine Hollow Reservoir? ›

Pine Hollow Reservoir is a relatively young fishing spot, but is a favorite destination in north-central Oregon for husky rainbow trout, some good-sized largemouth bass and various panfish.

How is the fishing in lava lake Oregon? ›

The lakes are bigger and if you want to explore the far reaches, especially on Lava Lake you'll want a boat with a gas motor or have strong arms for rowing. A lot of anglers use float tubes and pontoon boats to fish near the boat ramps and resort area at Lava with great success.

Can you drink while floating the river in Oregon? ›

Under Oregon boating laws, boaters are allowed to drink alcohol if they otherwise are legal to drink, and they may also have open containers of alcohol on board. However, they are not allowed to be intoxicated while operating a boat — and that includes being one of several paddlers on a raft, according to the law.

How cold is the Deschutes River in Bend? ›

Average Temperature in Deschutes River Woods

The cold season lasts for 3.7 months, from November 13 to March 4, with an average daily high temperature below 47°F. The coldest month of the year in Deschutes River Woods is December, with an average low of 24°F and high of 39°F.

How deep is the Deschutes River in Bend? ›

From Pelton Dam to the mouth the Deschutes is one of America's most productive trout waters and a top producer of summer steelhead, managed primarily for wild trout. This 100-mile (160 km) stretch of river drops 1,233 feet (376 m), carving a volcanic rock canyon 700 to 2,200 feet (213 to 671 m) deep.

Where should I start floating in Bend Oregon? ›

Wondering where to float and how it all works? The easiest and most popular route is to put on at Riverbend Park with a take out at Drake Park. Give yourself about an hour to enjoy this lazy sun-drenched meandering float along the Deschutes. For a shorter float, you can also take out at McKay Park.

Are there class 7 rapids? ›

Class VII and VIII Rapids

There are plenty of narrow passages, long and quite difficult rapids, and very turbulent water in a Classes 7-8. This for the advanced rafting enthusiast as it requires precision maneuvering.

Can beginners do class 3 rapids? ›

Class 3 is a typical beginner level for rafting. Class 4 is intermediate to advanced and good for adventure rafters. Class 5 is advanced and recommended only for experienced rafters.

Are there Class 6 rapids? ›

What are the white water rafting classes of rapids? There are six classes of whitewater rapids ranked based on how challenging they are to navigate. The classes of rapids are I, II, III, IV, V, and VI. River rapid classes increase with the degree of difficulty of paddling rapids in the river.

Can you paddle board on the Deschutes River? ›

If you're looking to get your SUP legs on the Deschutes River, a good place to start is at Riverbend Park. Put your board in from the sandy shore and paddle upstream toward the Bill Healy Memorial Bridge.

How long does it take to float the Deschutes? ›

How long does it take? Water and wind conditions dictate how long it will take to float the Deschutes, but typically, the trip from Riverbend Park to Drake Park will take from 1 to 1½ hours in a float tube.

How long is the float in Sunriver? ›

6-MILE FLOAT - SUNRIVER MARINA TO BENHAM BUTTE TAKE-OUT

Float time for canoes, kayaks and SUP is around 2 hours and rafts can take 3 to 3.5 hours.

What is the daily limit for trout in Oregon? ›

Northwest Zone Regulations
SpeciesBag Limit
TroutLakes: 5 per day, 3 daily limits in possession. Streams: (including tidewaters and bays): 2 per day, 3 daily limits in possession.
6 more rows

What fish are in the lower Deschutes? ›

The Lower Deschutes Wild and Scenic River is a legendary river for those who love fishing and is famous for both native rainbow trout and summer-run steelhead.

Are there sturgeon in the Deschutes River? ›

Fisheries include salmon, steelhead, sturgeon, shad and abundant smallmouth bass and walleye. Fall chinook seasons vary year to year, depending on the predicted run size. Spring chinook may also be fished some years. Summer steelhead are often caught off the mouth of the Deschutes, starting in July.

Where is the best fishing on the Deschutes River? ›

The most common access points with fishable water is near Tumalo Falls, Tethrow Crossing, Lower Bridge, and Crooked River Ranch. The most popular time to go fly fishing on the Middle Deschutes is in late April and early May.

What flies to use on the Deschutes River? ›

Due to the small size of the stream, we use smaller flies than in larger sections of the river. Midges and small mayflies work very well here, both on the surface and below it. Blue-winged olives (Baetis) are a super common mayfly. Small stoneflies and caddis pupa can also be effective here.

Is the lower Deschutes open for fishing? ›

Deschutes River. Open all year for trout and hatchery steelhead. 2 rainbow trout per day, 10 inch minimum and 13 inch maximum length. Open for Chinook salmon Aug 1 - Oct 31.

Are there salmon in the Deschutes? ›

Spring Chinook salmon enter the Deschutes River in April and May, ascending rapidly into upstream areas of the Warm Springs River and into the Pelton fish trap at the regulating dam. The run peaks at Sherars Falls during the first part of May and in early June at the Pelton fish trap.

Is the lower Deschutes open for steelhead? ›

Normally under permanent regulations hatchery steelhead fishing is open all year, coho fishing is open Aug. 1-Dec. 31 and Chinook fishing is open Aug. 1-Oct.

Can you fish for trout all year round in Oregon? ›

Oregon's year-round fishing spans the state from native redband trout in eastern deserts to rockfish and halibut in ocean waters – with lots of salmon, steelhead, trout and warmwater fishing in between.

What fish is in season right now in Oregon? ›

Dungeness Crab: December to August. Sturgeon: April to August. Pink Shrimp: April to October. Albacore Tuna: June -October.

What time can you start fishing in Oregon? ›

Harvest Method: Angling. Restrictions: It is unlawful to: Angle for or take salmon, shad, steelhead, sturgeon, trout or whitefish except during daylight hours (one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset). See exceptions for specific waterbodies.

Can you fish the canals in Bend Oregon? ›

About Bend Feed Canal

Bend Feed Canal is near Bend. The most popular species caught here are Rainbow trout, Largemouth bass, and Brown trout. 89 catches are logged on Fishbrain.

Can you kayak in Haystack Reservoir? ›

Kayaks, canoes and inflatables are still able to access the water. Update 9/8/2022- boat launch is currently closed!

What kind of fish are in Haystack Reservoir? ›

The reservoir offers decent chances for a variety of species, including rainbow trout, brown trout, kokanee, bluegill, black crappie and largemouth bass. Legal-size rainbow and brown trout are stocked annually in Haystack by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Why are they draining Haystack Reservoir? ›

Haystack Reservoir to be drained for gate maintenance; gamefish limits, gear restrictions lifted.

What feeds Pine Hollow Reservoir? ›

Pine Hollow Reservoir is an impoundment of water from Threemile and Pine Hollow creeks on the east flank of the Cascade Range in Wasco County, Oregon, United States.

Is Pine Hollow Reservoir open? ›

Pine Hollow Lakeside Resort is open March 25th - September.

Is Paulina Lake open for fishing? ›

The lake is open to fishing year-round, but early access to the lake around the time of ice-out, when fishing can be good for the trophies, is typically left for those with the ability and gumption to make a cross-country trek.
...
2022 Paulina Lake Trout Stocking.
2022 StockingTotal
Jul. 11 – 152,500
1 more row

What kind of fish are in Lava Lake Oregon? ›

Little Lava Lake is a small, forest lake about a half-mile south of "Big" Lava Lake. This 130-acre lake has a maximum depth of 20 feet and supports planted rainbow trout average of 6 to12 inches, some brook trout, and self-sustaining populations of whitefish and tui chub.

Does Lava Lake Campground have showers? ›

Lava Lake Campground is popular with campers as the lower elevation lodgepole pine stands offer great screening between sites.
...
At a Glance.
Operational Hours:Visit Recreation.gov for current operating dates.
Water:Potable Water
Restroom:Vault Toilet
Operated By:Vista Recreation
7 more rows

Is Little Lava Lake open? ›

This campground is next to the Little Lava Lake, the source of the Deschutes River. There are opportunities for fishing, canoeing, swimming, and hiking.
...
At a Glance.
Operational Hours:Visit Recreation.gov for current operating dates.
Open Season:Tentative Opening: May 13, 2022 - October 23, 2022
Usage:Medium-Heavy
8 more rows

Where can I float Deschutes River? ›

Wondering where to float and how it all works? The easiest and most popular route is to put on at Riverbend Park with a take out at Drake Park. Give yourself about an hour to enjoy this lazy sun-drenched meandering float along the Deschutes. For a shorter float, you can also take out at McKay Park.

Can you float the Little Deschutes River? ›

This float trip meanders through the exclusive Vandervert Ranch and Crosswater Golf Course. This float is great for canoeing, kayaking or stand up paddling. The slow moving current and shallow water contribute to warmer water temperatures.

How long does it take to float the Deschutes River? ›

How long does it take? Water and wind conditions dictate how long it will take to float the Deschutes, but typically, the trip from Riverbend Park to Drake Park will take from 1 to 1½ hours in a float tube.

How deep is the Deschutes River in Bend? ›

From Pelton Dam to the mouth the Deschutes is one of America's most productive trout waters and a top producer of summer steelhead, managed primarily for wild trout. This 100-mile (160 km) stretch of river drops 1,233 feet (376 m), carving a volcanic rock canyon 700 to 2,200 feet (213 to 671 m) deep.

How long is the float in Sunriver? ›

6-MILE FLOAT - SUNRIVER MARINA TO BENHAM BUTTE TAKE-OUT

Float time for canoes, kayaks and SUP is around 2 hours and rafts can take 3 to 3.5 hours.

How cold is the Deschutes River? ›

Average Temperature in Deschutes River Woods

The cold season lasts for 3.7 months, from November 13 to March 4, with an average daily high temperature below 47°F. The coldest month of the year in Deschutes River Woods is December, with an average low of 24°F and high of 39°F.

Can you kayak in Sunriver? ›

Bordered by five miles of the scenic Deschutes River shoreline and more than a dozen nearby lakes, Sunriver can be your base camp for accessing the area's natural water features. Bring your own watercraft or rent a canoe, kayak or tube from one of several local vendors.

Can you kayak the Deschutes River? ›

Location: The stretches of the Deschutes River we kayak are devoid of rapids, and provide a peaceful paddling experience for all ability levels.

Can you paddle up the Deschutes? ›

If you're looking to get your SUP legs on the Deschutes River, a good place to start is at Riverbend Park. Put your board in from the sandy shore and paddle upstream toward the Bill Healy Memorial Bridge.

Can you swim in the Deschutes River? ›

The Deschutes River runs fast and mighty, but now and then, it slows and eddies, making for a few sweet swimming holes. Farewell Bend Park has a couple of small beaches and mild currents, making it a great spot to take a quick dip on a hot summer day.

What do you use to float a river? ›

GEAR: WHAT TO BRING
  1. The tube. If you're not renting a tube through an outfitter, you'll obviously need to bring your own. ...
  2. Water shoes. ...
  3. Sun protection. ...
  4. Leave your phone behind. ...
  5. Rope. ...
  6. Portable air pump. ...
  7. Clothes (optional). ...
  8. Insulated water bottle.
12 Jun 2019

Where do you float in Sunriver? ›

Popular trips for tubing in Sunriver include floating downstream from Big River to Harper's Bridge (7.5 miles), from Harper's Bridge to the Sunriver Canoe Takeout (8.6 miles), and from the Besson Day Use Area to the Benham Falls East Day Use Area (7.2 miles).

How clean is the Deschutes River? ›

Parts of the Deschutes River and its tributary creeks do not meet state clean water standards.

What animals are in Deschutes River? ›

The Deschutes River supports healthy salmon, steelhead and other fish populations. Wildlife habitats ranging from alpine to semi-arid desert areas provide homes for big game and furbearing species, including elk, deer, antelope, black bear, beaver, mink, otter, and bobcat, and more than 100 species of birds.

What fish are found in the Deschutes River? ›

The Deschutes River Basin supports more than thirty species of indigenous and introduced fish. Indigenous salmonids comprise six of the species and include Chinook salmon, summer steelhead, sockeye salmon, redband trout, bull trout and mountain whitefish.

Videos

1. Crooked Wild and Scenic River!
(BLM Oregon & Washington)
2. Salmon Fly Hatch on Deschutes River, Warm Springs - 05/29/21
(Fish On! Sports)
3. Deschutes River salmonfly drift boat trip 2022
(Wild Cascade)
4. Wild and Scenic Rogue River Drift Boat - Day 1- Almeda to Blackbar
(Erik Weiseth)
5. Deschutes River Rafting in Maupin - 08/15/21
(Chris Paine)
6. Multi Day River Rafting Trip | Rogue River
(Heart Compass Adventures)

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