Upper Deschutes River Kayak Tour

Upper Deschutes River Kayak Tour

OverviewItineraryEquipment ListAboutRelated Courses

Take an Upper Deschutes River Kayak Tour with Tumalo Creek! Launching about an hour south of Bend, tour participants will explore vast stretches of the Deschutes National Forest by boat on a pristine and mostly undeveloped section of the Deschutes River.

Our Upper Deschutes River Kayak Tour is the perfect day adventure for visitors wanting to immerse themselves in the local scenery. This excursion is enjoyed by beginning paddlers of all ages as well as those more experienced. Tumalo Creek provides transportation to the launch site, equipment, guides, basic instruction and lunch. The Upper Deschutes River Kayak Tour is suggested as a relaxing outing for visitors and locals of all ages and skill levels.

Note: Please call the shop directly for reservations occurring 24 hours or less from class start date, 541.317.9407.  Minimum enrollment needs can periodically result in course rescheduling.

Where: Tenino to Wyeth Campground or Lapine State Park to Big River Campground, meet at 805 SW Industrial Way, Suite 6, Bend OR 97702

What: Tour locations can vary seasonally. Generally, our Upper Deschutes River trip takes place at one of the following locations south of Bend.

Tenino to Wyeth Campground

This kayak and paddleboard tour begins just below Wickiup Reservoir and continues nine miles down the Upper Deschutes to Wyeth Campground. Though there are no sections of whitewater on this stretch that require technical paddling skills, moving flatwater will help your boat along. This is a great trip for beginning boaters, kids and advanced paddlers who seek to enjoy the serenity and beautiful scenery of the river.

After seeing several summer homes on the first few miles of this stretch, the river begins to wind through the forest with trees on all sides. Paddlers can expect to see a variety of native wildlife including: Elk, Bald Eagles and Red Tail Hawks.

Lapine State Park to Big River Campground

This Tumalo Creek tour begins at Lapine State Park and continues ten miles down the Upper Deschutes to Big River Campground. This section of the river is characterized by slow currents and meandering side channels allowing for many up close wildlife scouting opportunities. Summer homes exist on this section and are interspersed with beautiful scenery and spectacular views of the Cascade Mountains.

Cost: $105, lunch included

Dates: Summer; Wednesdays and Saturdays 9am-3pm. Spring/Fall; Saturdays, 10am-4pm

Tumalo Creek provides:

  • kayaks, canoes, or paddleboards
  • paddles
  • PFDs
  • transportation
  • guides
  • basic instruction

Participant provides:

  • sneakers, river shoes, or wetsuit booties
  • sunglasses with Croakies or Chums
  • sunscreen and lip balm
  • sun hat, rain hat or fleece hat
  • synthetic top and bottom (i.e. thermal underwear)
  • raincoat and rain pants
  • swimsuit
  • water bottle
  • towel and change of clothes
  • snacks

Gear required for this trip is available for purchase at Tumalo Creek and other local retailers.

The Deschutes River

The Deschutes River is historically one of the most stable terrestrial water systems in the nation. Because of it’s steady flow, the Deschutes has served as a thoroughfare and consistent resource source for flora, fauna and humans a like. Chinook, Northern Piute, fur trappers, early pioneers and many other peoples first called the river flowing north at the base of the East Cascades Towornehiooks and then Rivière des Chutes, meaning ‘river of the falls’ in French.  

Flowing from Little Lava Lake in the Cascade Lakes above Crane Prairie Reservoir, The Deschutes winds its way north through several iconic stretches before outletting into The Columbia River, the topographic feature demarcating the border for much of Oregon and Washington.

Though the channel has been re-located by basaltic lava flows numerous times over the last 80,000 years, a diversity of riparian habitats from dry and arid to lush and green spatter the banks of The Deschutes. These ecosystems house a variety of species easily seen from paddlecrafts during tours. Oregon Spotted Frogs, Blue Herring, the Red Winged Blackbird, Trout, timber tigers (chip-monks), muscrats, beavers, river otters, deer and many other distinct types of bird and fish.

Tumalo Creek provides tours and self-guided rental opportunities for many of these scenic and historic sections. Wickiup Reservoir and river stretches 9 miles south can be paddled via The Upper Deschutes River Kayak Tour, and downstream, south of Benham and Dillon Falls, Slough Camp can be paddled via the Half-Day Deschutes River Kayak Tour. Farewell Bend Park and river stretches through The Old Mill District to the new Whitewater Park are paddled during Tumalo Creek’s Basics Skills (kayak or paddleboard course) or self-guided during a float tube trip. Further down river, Drake Park and Mirror Pond can also be visited via a float tube, kayak or paddleboard rental.