Deschutes - K. US 26 (Warm Springs) to Sherars Falls

Deschutes, Oregon, US


K. US 26 (Warm Springs) to Sherars Falls

Usual Difficulty III (for normal flows)
Avg. Gradient 12 fpm

Oak Springs Rapids

Oak Springs Rapids
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe В© taken 09/19/07 @ 4330 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-14103000 3000 - 8000 cfs III 00h47m 4820 cfs (running)

River Description

SEASON: All year possible. The summer is most popular for both private trips and commercial outfitters.


The Lower Deschutes is probably Oregon's most popular overnight float trip and is a classic among fishermen. Experienced river runners will find this to be a relaxing river float but a few class III rapids deserve strict attention. While this can be a great beginner trip for those who have an experienced guide along, inexperienced river runners get themselves into trouble every year and there have been several fatalities on the river.

 Agricultural diversions upstream near Bend remove water from the river, but springs on the Crooked, Deschutes, and Metolius rivers provide consistent year-around flow which is further regulated by the Pelton Round Butte Hydroelectric project. The peak season is the summer and the river attracts a wide range of user groups including recreational floaters and drift boat fishermen. While the beautiful canyon scenery interspersed with small groves of trees providing welcome shade makes this a great trip, don't come expecting wilderness solitude. The use tends to be biased towards trips where you pack the rafts with everything you could possibly need (and then some) and kick back for a good time with your friends.

Permits are required but it is a reservation system and given that the river is managed for high use, it is generally easy to find a slot if you plan in advance. The run can be divided into two sections with the first half popular as the start of an overnight trip and the lower section popular as a day trip.

Warm Springs Boat Ramp to Harpham Flat (52.4 miles, alternate put-in points)  

The run starts out at the uppermost put-in at Warm Springs Boat Ramp which is on the upstream river right side of the Highway 26 Bridge. Those who come in late and want to camp the night before often launch at Mecca Flat which is 1.8 miles downstream on river right (a dirt road parallels the river). Trout Creek is another potential access point which is 9.4 miles downstream of the put-in but less convenient to Highway 26 as the river right road does not extend down that far.

Whitehorse Rapids is the most challenging rapid on this section as it is nearly half a mile long. If you don't know the rapid it's a good idea to get out on river right for a look as there are a couple alternative lines depending on your skills and the flow. Buckskin Mary and Four Chutes Rapids are another fun set of drops on this section.

Harpham Flat to Sandy Beach (10.4 miles, intermediate access points)

When you hear people talk about doing a day trip on the lower Deschutes this is the section they are running and if you are in the area this is a great run throughout the summer but be prepared to share the river with dozens of rafts. There are several great rapids on this section packed relatively close together. While there is nothing any harder than Whitehorse Rapids they come more frequently. Wapinitia Rapids and Boxcar Rapids can be easily scouted from the road on river right. Maupin City Park is another popular launch site. Downstream of town you will come to a two mile action-packed section that includes Surf City Rapids, Oak Springs Rapids, White River Rapids, Upper Elevator Rapids, and Lower Elevator Rapids before you reach Sandy Beach which is the last take-out before the river plunges over Sherars Falls.

LOGISTICS: The Lower Deschutes web site has maps and information on the run including everything you need to make a reservation and obtain a permit which can all be done online. The The Prineville District BLM and Oregon State Parks also publish a Deschutes River Boater's Guide with mile-by-mile rapid descriptions, campsites (including relative size and accessibility to shade), human and geologic history of the river, and detailed maps.

Permit Information

Boater pass available through online reservation system. Some dates have limited launches available.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2010-12-01 06:15:13

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0Warm Springs: Rainbow LaunchPutin Photo
1.8Mecca Flat AccessPutin Photo
9.4Trout Creek AccessPutin Takeout
10.1Upper Trout Creek RapidsII
10.3Lower Trout Creek RapidsII+
21.1Whitehorse RapidIII+Photo
28.5Reservation Boundary
33.5Buckskin Mary RapidsIIIPhoto
34.2Four Chutes RapidsII
42.0Harpham Flat AccessPutin Takeout
42.9Wapanitia RapidsIIIPhoto
44.0Box Car RapidsIII
46.0Maupin City ParkPutin Takeout Photo
49.9Surf City RapidsII+Playspot Photo
50.3Oak Springs RapidsIVPhoto
51.1White River RapidsII+Photo
51.6Upper Elevator RapidsIIPhoto
51.8Lower Elevator RapidsII+Photo
52.4Sandy Beach AccessTakeout Photo
53.8Sherars FallsPortage Hazard Waterfall Photo

Rapid Descriptions

Warm Springs: Rainbow Launch

Rainbow Launch: Hwy 26

Rainbow Launch: Hwy 26
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe taken 04/01/06

Day use site with boat ramp, toilet, and garbage services. This is the first public access downstream of the Pelton Round Butte Hydroelectric Project.

Mecca Flat Access

Mecca Flat Access

Mecca Flat Access
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe В© taken 08/17/07 @ 4270 cfs

Mecca Flat is a BLM site that provides camping, boat ramp, toilet, and garbage service. It is a popular site to meet the evening before a trip.

Trout Creek Access
Trout Creek is a BLM access site with camping, vehicle access, toilet, tables, garbage service, and boat ramp. Day use and overnight parking is available for this site which serves as a put-in or take-out. There is also a trailhead here that provides access to the 7.6 mile trail that follows the old railroad grade up to Mecca Flat. There is also a ranger station staffed during the summer with visitor information, boater check-in, and emergency communications.

Upper Trout Creek Rapids (Class II, Mile 10.1)
Small waves.

Lower Trout Creek Rapids (Class II+, Mile 10.3)
Either side around the island is possible.

Whitehorse Rapid (Class III+, Mile 21.1)

Whitehorse Rapids

Whitehorse Rapids
Photo of Mark Lehner by Thomas O'Keefe В© taken 08/18/07 @ 4330 cfs

There are a few different routes through this boulder garden rapid. Scouting from river right is recommended.

Reservation Boundary
The Warms Springs Reservation Boundary. Upstream of this points most lands along river left are part of the reservation. Downstream of this point BLM lands are on both sides of the river with the exception of private parcels.

Buckskin Mary Rapids (Class III, Mile 33.5)

Buckskin Mary Rapids

Buckskin Mary Rapids
Photo of David Wilson by Thomas O'Keefe В© taken 08/18/07 @ 4330 cfs

A wave train down the middle.

Four Chutes Rapids (Class II, Mile 34.2)
Wave train down the left and boulder garden on the right.

Harpham Flat Access
Harpham Flat is the most popular access for day trips on the Deschutes River.

Wapanitia Rapids (Class III, Mile 42.9)

Wapanitia Rapids

Wapanitia Rapids
Photo of Omar Jepperson by Thomas O'Keefe В© taken 08/19/07 @ 4330 cfs

A fun wave train down the middle.

Box Car Rapids (Class III, Mile 44.0)
Large waves and a small ledge drop with a hole to the left that is best avoided.

Maupin City Park

Maupin City Park

Maupin City Park
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe В© taken 08/19/07 @ 4330 cfs

Access used as a take-out or put-in at the City Park in the town of Maupin.

Surf City Rapids (Class II+, Mile 49.9)

Surf City Rapids

Surf City Rapids
Photo of Web Peirce by Thomas O'Keefe В© taken 08/19/07 @ 4330 cfs

Some fun surf waves.

Oak Springs Rapids (Class IV, Mile 50.3)

Oak Springs Rapids

Oak Springs Rapids
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe В© taken 09/19/07 @ 4330 cfs

A big drop with routes down the right or left. It's an easy scout from the road on river right.

White River Rapids (Class II+, Mile 51.1)

White River Rapids

White River Rapids
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe В© taken 09/19/07 @ 4330 cfs

Fun waves at the White River confluence.

Upper Elevator Rapids (Class II, Mile 51.6)

Upper Elevator Rapids

Upper Elevator Rapids
Photo of Omar Jepperson by Thomas O'Keefe В© taken 08/19/07 @ 4330 cfs

Wave train with a fun surf wave at the bottom.

Lower Elevator Rapids (Class II+, Mile 51.8)

Lower Elevator Rapids

Lower Elevator Rapids
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe В© taken 08/19/07 @ 4330 cfs

Fun waves down the middle.

Sandy Beach Access

Sandy Beach Access

Sandy Beach Access
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe В© taken 08/19/07 @ 4330 cfs

The last take-out before the river drops over Sherars Falls a short distance downstream.

Sherars Falls

Sherars Falls

Sherars Falls
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe В© taken 08/19/07 @ 4330 cfs

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