Looking for a peaceful way to experience the beauty of the outdoors near Bend? This family-friendly kayaking tour on the Upper Deschutes River takes you along a serene portion of this Columbia River tributary. See the snowcapped peaks of the Cascade Mountains, and look for wildlife like elk, otters and bald eagles as you paddle. Select either a half-day or full-day tour with a professional kayak guide ' no experience necessary.
When booking, choose either a half- or full-day kayak tour, depending on your desired schedule. The full-day tour extends your mileage and includes lunch, allowing for more time on the river. While slow-moving currents help your kayak along, there are no sections of white water that require technical paddling skills. Expect to see a variety of native wildlife including deer, elk, beavers, otters, bald eagles, red-tailed hawks and great blue herons.
Half-day tour (4 hours)
Meet your guide at the tour office in Bend, and depart with your group to Deschutes National Forest, just a 20-minute drive from town. After a safety briefing and paddling instruction, launch your kayak into the heart of the forest to begin your exploration of a pristine and undeveloped section of the Upper Deschutes River.
Paddle upstream to Benham Falls, one of the river's three major waterfalls, a descending series of rapids surrounded by long-needle pines. You can also explore lagoons and side channels that are an inviting shade of aqua, and see interesting lava-flow formations that surged down from Paulina Peak when the volcano erupted, creating Newberry Crater National Monument.
Your half-day kayak trip ends with an easy float and paddle back to the launching spot before return transport to Bend.
Full-day tour with lunch (7 hours)
Meet your guide at the tour office in Bend and depart by minivan with your group to the starting point on the river. The locations vary by tour date but generally include one of two spots south of Bend (see descriptions below). The full-day tour includes a freshly prepared lunch by local favorite Nancy P's Cafe & Bakery, and ends with a paddle back to the launching spot before return transport to Bend.
Wickiup Reservoir to Wyeth Campground:
Launch your kayak just below Wickiup Reservoir and continue for 9 miles (14.5 km) down the Upper Deschutes to Wyeth Campground. This section of the river is characterized by moving flat-water. There are a few summer homes along the first few miles of this stretch, but eventually the river winds through the forest with trees on all sides.
Lapine State Park to Big River Campground:
Put in your kayak at Lapine State Park and continue for 10 miles (16 km) down the Upper Deschutes to Big River Campground. This section includes meandering side channels to explore. See summer homes interspersed with stunning scenery and spectacular views of the Cascade Mountains.