Central Oregon local runs

Local Rivers


Deschutes River

The Deschutes River has a split personality.  One as a calm meandering stream flowing through a forest, and the other as a raging-torrent of drops and rocks.  This yin and yang character was created 7,000 years ago when Lava Butte erupted with a river of hot lava, which relocated the Deschutes River and created its extreme pool & drop nature.  The first three falls, Benham, Dillon and Lava Island are very short class IV to V+ drops and together form the Central Oregon Triple Crown.  Below here the Meadow Camp run leads into Bend with a series of class IV+ technical rapids.  Downstream from Bend is our winter run, the class IV Riverhouse, which is also rocky and technical.


Metolius River

Gushing from springs as a river with cold-clear water, the Metolius is covered in lush vegetation and flows through a beautiful forest.  This river has a continuous gradient for most of its length and none of the rapids are harder than class III.  There are two stretches normally run, above Lower Bridge and below.  With many put-ins and take-outs, the stretch above Lower Bridge is great for beginners.  The stretch below the bridge is a 17 mile remote and continuous class III.  This is a great all day summer run due to the cold-clear water and scenery.


Crooked River

This is a classic desert river cutting a deep gorge through layers of volcanic rock, creating a narrow and Rocky River bed.  There are two sections, an upper and lower.  The 18 mile upper is a rare treat of a long intense class IV that only runs when the reservoir above is full.  The lower stretch always runs due to the showering springs that gush out of the sheer cliffs.  The technical class III Lower Crooked is a great summer escape due to the cool-clear water.  Climbing at Smith Rock in the morning and running the Lower Crooked in the afternoon makes for a great day.




Metolius River, Gorge

Class III

4 miles

Put-in:              The pullout upstream of Pine Rest Campground

Take-out:          Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery Bridge

Flow:                1000-3000


Season:         year round and spring fed


This is a beautiful river and an easy low-stress run with two things to be aware of.  The water is always cold and there are many logs in the river.  Swimming here is no fun so bring your roll.  Recently the USFS has placed hundreds of logs on the banks for fish habitat.


Put-in at a small pullout just upstream of Pine Rest Campground.  There is a small island in the river covered with lush vegetation.  The river is moving swiftly, with no real rapids, but shortly the river will enter the Gorge with a few easy class II rapids.  Watch for rock ledges that can trip up a boat.

At the end of the Gorge the river passes through a meadow with views of Mt Jefferson.  Duck under two bridges and enjoy the scenery.  This area is private property.  Pass an island on either side and watch for a cable highline.  Soon the banks will close in and you will enter a second small gorge with class II swirly water.  Canyon Creek will enter on the left.


Round the corner to the right, pass a nice surf wave and you will reach a cascading spring on the right.  This is quite a sight and the water tastes great.  Downstream of the spring the river turns left and the first class III rapid appears.  This rapid is straight forward with a few mild holes to navigate.  After another half mile is the next class III drop, which is similar to the last.


Just downstream is a large log that spans the river with an easy portage on the left.


Wizard Falls

After the portage there is a series of rock ledges that form rapids to the take out.  Generally stay right for the easiest water.  About a half mile below the log a tricky hole is found center-left that can be quite challenging.  Around the corner from here is class III Wizard Falls which is formed by a narrow cut in the rock ledge.  This drop ends under a bridge just above the take-out.  Have right momentum as you duck under the low bridge so you can catch the small eddy on the right.  If you miss the eddy it’s ok just take out lower down.



Deschutes River, Riverhouse

Class IV

5 Miles

Put-in:            Sawyer Park or Riverview Park

Take-Out:       At the large parking area downstream of the bridge at Tumalo State Park

Flow:              500-1500 cfs, 541-388-6669 / Watermaster


Season:  Oct-April and a few unscheduled days in summer




The normal put-in is Sawyer Park just downstream of the foot bridge, but there is an alternative put-in upstream above the North Canal Dam at Riverview Park in a very urban environment that adds an awesome 30 foot slide down the spillway.  Recommended flow for the upper put-in is 600-800 cfs as a keeper wave will develop at the base of the dam at higher flows.  Scout this drop on river-left for logs and drop to the right of the rock downstream.


About a half-mile below Sawyer Park at the Archie Biggs Bridge is Rockefeller, a class III chute with fun eddies and a boat-flipping hole at the bottom on the right.  Just around the bend is another class III rapid starting at a foot bridge.



The Wright Stuff is a tight, technical class IV drop that is not threatening if you know the route.  Start on the right to pass the first ledge, and then ferry left to the center island covered with willows.  There are two slots on the final drop.  Take the left one at low water.  Below 600 cfs this is very rocky.  At high water things open up.  Scout or portage on the right.

The Wright Stuff, Photo by Matt Deacon

A short distance downstream is the class IV Flumes of Doom.  You may notice a small channel to the right, don’t take it.  The main channel is left, and start down its right side.  Be ready to ferry left to catch the large eddy on river-left.  From here enter the main current and line up on the final drop with right momentum.  There is a nice boof to the right into an eddy at the bottom.  If you swim here be careful as there is a debris-catching strainer a few hundred yards downstream on the right.


T-Rex is about a mile downstream and starts with some class III holes that pass to the right of a house-sized rock.  Around the corner to the right the action picks up to class IV with a cut to the right between two rocks.  After passing to the right of a log, punch to the right through two guardian waves into an eddy with an easy exit chute.  The center main drop, with a great boof to the right, is also fun.


After several class III drops a very rocky drop blocks the view downstream.  Ogre, class IV, is the most challenging rapid on this run.   The flow cuts to the right, drops through several holes and slams into a rock on the right.  Here lies the Ogre, a large boiling pillow.  A right to left cut before the pillow is a good line.

Photo by Matt Deacon

Several class III rapids and numerous play waves extend to Tumalo State Park.  There is usually at least one log blocking the lower part of the run.  Take out on river left a few hundred yards below the OB Riley Road Bridge.


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June 22nd, 2018

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