One of the gems of the region is the Deschutes River that runs from southern Deschutes County north to the Columbia and for those seeking a cool respite on a hot summer day (hovering at 97°F as I write this), a day on the Deschutes is a fun way to beat the summer heat. Be warned though, Bend is at 3,500 feet elevation and so bring plenty of water and sunscreen if you're not used to the high desert at altitude!
Bend itself hosts a playground for stand up paddle boarders, inner tube floaters and more serious white water aficionados within city limits. Flat water folks are well served at Riverbend Park, one in a long string of beautiful parks maintained by Bend Park and Recreation District. Floaters traveling down stream can take advantage of an easy put-in a short distance upstream of the Old Mill and can take out at a number of publicly accessible locations, the final spot being Drake Park where a convenient shuttle service can ferry floaters from take out to put in by purchasing a day pass for $3.
Between Riverbend and Drake Park is the Bend Whitewater Park where surfers on boards or in boats alike can play in the standing waves. Floaters can bypass the whitewater park via a portage path, or, if properly equipped, maneuver the rapids on river left. (BTW - Pool toys and flip flops are not considered proper equipment, duh!) There is also a fun play spot for kayakers at First Street Rapids.
My recommendation, though, is to spend the extra time and effort to get out to see more of the glories of the big Deschutes. Taking a raft or drift boat down the lower Deschutes in the area of Maupin and north will bring you exciting whitewater and gorgeous flats. You can choose from day to multi-day trips from a range of local services and outfitters (with fun names like Deschutes U-Boat and River Drifters, yes, there are other more normal names, too).
Want to give your kids an adventure while you and your spouse get some alone time? Check out Bend Park and Rec youth programs. Day trips and overnights are available with skilled staff leading the way to fun and adventure.
|Train trestle bridge on lower Deschutes River north of Maupin, Oregon.|