Paddle The River

Bend, Oregon

Paddle The River

Drake Park and Mirror Pond – Farewell Bend Park – Riverbend Park

If you haven’t had a chance to paddle The Deschutes River thru Bend Oregon, you’re missing out! Launching at Riverbend Park and floating down The Deschutes to Drake Park is an extremely popular SUP Destination. Crowds of all ages float down the river on anything from basic inner tubes, paddle boards (of course), inflatable mattresses, and even the occasional giant pink flamingo or white swan. You’ll see every style of paddle board on the market, in fact floating The Deschutes is a great way to check out other boards! People are typically more than happy to share their paddle experiences, we’ve even gone so far as to trade boards with random folks just to try out something new. The theme on the Deschutes as it winds thru the city of Bend is definitely all about having fun!

This particular stretch of The Deschutes is controlled by a man-made Dam constructed back in 1910 which also created Mirror Pond at the Drake Park launch site. Taming The Deschutes River allows for a relaxing float with mild currents slowly carrying the 100’s of river floaters safely down the river. River floaters can catch a shuttle bus including attached trailer to pack their tubes for a very minimal fee ($3) back to Riverbend Park, negating the need for dropping a 2nd vehicle at the downriver Drake Park location. Here at NW SUP & Fitness, we’ve never actually used the provided shuttle bus and have instead opted to paddle the river as an out & back trip.

NW SUP says; Our personal favorite approach to The Deschutes River is to launch at Drake Park and paddle up-river weaving in and out of the crowds of river floaters. We’ll typically paddle past Riverbend Park until we hit the first section of rapids within site of Farewell Bend Park, and take lunch on the beaches at Farewell or under the bridge if we need a break from the sun. Paddling up-river first lets us push our fitness limits knowing we can look forward to a relaxing float back down the river.

Parking at all 3 launch locations used to access The Deschutes within the City of Bend can be extremely limited! Farewell Bend Park only has a few parking spots on the river-side of the road and is often at full capacity. Riverbend Park has a large parking lot, but is also the most popular Deschutes launch site in the Bend area and is often at full capacity. There is overflow parking available, but it’s a long hike from the launch especially when packing a SUP board. Drake Park has very limited street parking, but we’ve often been able to find parking on a nearby side street. There is an unloading/loading zone set aside at both Riverbend & Drake Parks, which is often the best (or only) choice for getting your boards in the water when parking is tight.

Midway down the river, there is a man-made section of rapids. A walking trail is provided for those wishing to portage around the rapids and includes restrooms at McKay Park along the way should you need them. There is plenty of time to react before entering the rapids or choosing to portage around. A pedestrian footbridge crossing over the river rapids is a great place to take a break and people watch. There’s usually a few folks surfing the lower section, kayaker’s running the main rapids, tubes and other flotation devices floating thru the more mild section of rapids, and even a few more experienced SUP paddlers tackling the aggressive sections of rapids.

The paddling conditions are perfect for all levels of paddlers, although there is a slight current that could give the unexperienced kiddo’s a bit of trouble if trying to paddle up-river.

This SUP Destination is truly a must-do paddle experience! Drifting thru the city of Bend you’ll cross under a few pedestrian bridges with friendly people waving as you pass underneath them. There’s almost always local geese along the river, often with their feathered tails sticking straight out of the water as they dive for an underwater snack. It’s not uncommon to see fish darting under your board, especially right outside of Riverbend Park. There is also a walking/biking trail that runs parallel to the river for much of the paddle. We don’t typically go out of our way to paddle crowded waters, but the overall vibe on The Deschutes is just so much fun it’s contagious!

SUP Site Rating

  • Parking (Availability/Distance To Launch) 10% 10%
  • Launch Conditions 90% 90%
  • Difficulty Level 10% 10%
Note: Great for paddlers of all skill levels!