Deschutes River: Wickiup Reservoir to Bend


Wickiup to BendThe river runs in mainly one channel throughout this stretch, undercut banks are common, and shorelines lined with pine, bitterbrush, and willow are often highly eroded. Flows vary drastically with the irrigation season. The riverbed of fine sediment becomes sticky mud when exposed during low water. Woody debris in the river is scarce but is being added through habitat improvement projects. The river here is mostly unwadable, often with steep shorelines and deep, powerful water. Bank fishing or drift fishing from a boat is the norm. There is a boat speed limit of 5 mph. Bordered mainly by Forest Service land above the LaPine State Recreation Area; the stretch below, through Sunriver is lined with homes.

Often the mouths of the Little Deschutes and Fall River can be profitable areas to fish. Fall River joins the Deschutes just downstream from the LaPine Recreation Area, and the Little Deschutes enters a mile above Sunriver.

Below Sunriver, the vegetation changes to old growth ponderosa and aspen, and shorelines vary from marshy meadows to basalt bedrock. Flows fluctuate less because of tributaries, and the river features many deep pools, a more stable bank, and rocky in-stream structure. Spring River enters the Deschutes a mile downstream from Route 40. This mile-long “spring creek” holds few resident fish and is mainly spawning and rearing habitat for the rainbows, browns, and whitefish of the Deschutes. The lower half-mile of Spring River is accessible through Forest Service land.

Untamed whitewater and dangerous cataracts begin at Benham Falls and continue past Dillon Falls to Lava Island Falls 5 miles south of Bend. This section accurately reflects the river's name, Deschutes, “River of the Falls.” Though much of the water is fast and dangerous between Sunriver and Bend there are still many good fishing spots along the banks. As with all of the upper Deschutes, the river travels mostly within one channel and water levels vary with the irrigation season. Few areas are wadable and most would be hazardous to attempt. From 1 mile below Meadow Picnic Area to Bend, the river is entirely flanked by private land. A short distance upstream from Bend, much of the river is siphoned off for irrigation from April to October, and, again, the character of the river changes as its volume drops.

Forest Service boat launches for the Deschutes River are at:  Tenino, Bull Bend, Wyeth, Tetherow, Big River, Benham Falls East, Slough, Dillon Falls, Aspen, and Lava Island.



Show detail SHOW
Areas & Activities
App Icon Visual

Download Our New Official Recreation App! Link opens in a new window

Mill Creek Wilderness

Ochoco NF & Crooked River NG Recreation Info Link opens in a new window