Benham Falls to Slough Camp, class V, 1.5 miles
This spectacular section of river formed 7000 years ago when the Lava Butte eruption buried the channel of the Deschutes River in more than 100 feet of lava creating a natural dam. Benham Falls was the outlet from the lake that formed; over time the river cut through the volcanic rock and the lake drained but some impressive whitewater remains.
Benham Falls remains a formidable class V+ rapid that is rarely run above 1000 cfs. Below 1000 cfs, it is much more manageable, but still class V, and definitely requires scouting and safety.
Scott Baker and Matt King running Benham in a dynamic Duo: https://vimeo.com/53921371
Class III and IV rapids continue for a short distance downstream of Benham Falls as the river flows along the edge of the lava field within Newberry National Volcanic Monument. The river then settles out to class I.
Slough Camp to Dillon Falls, class I, 1.8 miles
The short float from Slough Camp to Dillon Falls is class I.
For additional information on recreational opportunities see the Deschutes National Forest web site.
Logistics: The primary access for this section is from river left. Take Highway 372 out of Bend and at mile marker 7.6 turn on to Forest Road 41. At mile 2.6 on Forest Road 41, turn onto Forest Road 4100-600 and continue 0.8 miles to the Dillon Falls Day Use Area marking the end of this section.
To reach Benham Falls, continue on Forest Road 41 to mile 4.0 and turn onto Forest Road 4100-400. At 0.8 miles down Forest Road 4100-400 you will reach the Slough Day Use Area (access for the class I float). At 2.2 miles down Forest Road 4100-400 you will reach the Benham West Trailhead adjacent to the falls. If you are running the falls, hike upstream to find your put-in.
An alternate access to Benham Falls is available on river right. Coming from Bend on Highway 97, turn into the Lava Lands Visitor Center at mile 149.5 (if coming from the south you will need to take Exit 151 to reach the visitor center). From the vistior center drive 4.0 miles down Forest Road 9702 to the Benham Falls East Trailhead. From here it is a 1/2 mile hike across a foot bridge and down to Benham Falls.
Alternate access that serves as a put-in for a short class I float.
The Bureau of Reclamation's Deschutes River at Beenham Falls (BENO) gage applies to this section. Look for flows around of 1000 to 3000 cfs which are dependable through the summer.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
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Benham at super low water
Super Low water Benham
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This week, Oregon House Bill 2835 re-passed the Oregon House on a 52-7 vote. Having earlier cleared the Senate, the bill now awaits a signature from the Governor to be signed into law. For decades, opportunities to protect and improve the ability of the public to access and legally use waterways for recreation have seen minimal progress, while efforts to severely limit access have been a consistent threat. Oregon House Bill 2835 is a pivotal piece of legislation in Oregon, and the first proactive waterway access bill in recent history to have made it through the state legislature.
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