Kayaking Deschutes River: Harpers Bridge-Benham Falls

Kayaking on the Deschutes River 10Sept2016

Exploring the Deschutes River near Sunriver, Oregon

We recently went on a nice leisurely kayaking trip down the Deschutes River. We parked one car at Benham Falls East Day Use area and parked the other where we launched at Harper’s Bridge, Sunriver, Oregon. It took a little over 3 1/2 hours on a warm September day. The trip is about 10 river miles long.

Kayaking on the Deschutes River 10Sept2016

This is a meandering river that passes through beautiful meadows and forested areas. We saw a few people close to the Sunriver Marina but didn’t see many more on the trip. This float ended near parts of the lava lands of Newberry National Volcanic Monument.

We saw some interesting things along the way.

Kayaking on the Deschutes River 10Sept2016

There were horseback riders and bicyclists stirring up dust on the riverside trail.

Horseback riders & bicyclists near Sunriver 10Sept2016

A young mallard came right up to me. Maybe it thought I was its Mom. 🙂

Young mallard on the Deschutes River 10Sept2016

The footbridge spanning the river has beautiful architecture.

Footbridge at Sunriver 10Sept2016

Know before you go kayaking

The river was calm and placid the day we went out. You should always check ahead of time for conditions. I recommend buying the Deschutes Paddle Trail River Guide published by the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance. It includes the level of difficulty and where the access points are. You can flip through detailed maps covering 26 miles of the Little Deschutes River and 95 miles of the Deschutes River. It will help you find sections that match your skill level and avoid sections that are dangerous. Deschutes is French for “falls” and this river has a lot of them so know where they are before you take off.

I’m ending this post with a photo that I took of Benham Falls on a hike a couple of years ago. Can you see why parts of the falls are rated as Class V – “extremely difficult, long, and very violent rapids…” The ability to do Eskimo rolls in this section is considered “essential.” I plan to appreciate their beauty from the shore!

Benham Falls 23Oct2014

Sunriver Area Chamber of Commerce describes popular kayaking routes and shows maps of the area here.

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