Difficulty V
Length 1.5 Miles
Gauge Deschutes At Benham Falls
Flow Range 500 - 2200 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 1 day ago 1700 [CFS] ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 06/06/2020 8:47 pm

River Description

This 1.5 mile section, referred to by locals as "Lava", runs all year. Winter flows vary between 500 and 1000cfs. In the summer, levels are typically between 1700 and 2200cfs. This run changes dramatically at higher water

At summer levels, this section consists of two big, pushy, consequential class V rapids, known as Lava 1 and Lava 2. This section is expert only and is a major step up from the Meadowcamp section downstream. Lava at summer levels should only be run by solid class V boaters and even then, following someone who knows the lines is a good idea.

You do not have any warm up once you put in. Lava 1 starts right out of the pool. Lava 1 can be scouted via a trail on river right, but you can't see the whole thing. Most find the best option is to follow someone who can provide good verbal instructions on your first few times down. 

Multiple options are available to run Lava 1. The rapid starts out with a swirly entry that can be tough to navigate. Then, the river divides around an island.  Both sides are runnable, but both have tricky moves around serious holes.  The left channel contains a hole known as "the butthole", which has separated many boaters from their gear and lead to lots of rough swims.  Make sure you hit your boof. The right side goes down a 10-12 foot slide into a big hole. The line is to drive either hard right or left to avoid the meat of the hole. The highest percentage line is generally the right side of the right channel. Line up and paddle hard. Lava 1 leads directly into a fun class IV drop called Cut 'em Up, making any swims very unpleasant. 

Cut 'em Up ends in a calm pool above Lava 2. Lava 2 is big, long, and scary. Scouting is tough and doesn't do much good. As above, this is a rapid where following someone who knows the line is the best option.  A wave train leads to the crux move, where you have to get all the way left to avoid 2 huge boulders, then move aggressively back to the center-right to avoid the massive hole on the left.  After the hole, class IV runout continues for a couple hundred yards before the river abruptly flattens just above the Meadow Picnic Area.

During the winter you take out at Meadow Picnic Area but in the summer you can either head back upstream for another lap, or continue downstream through 2 miles of class II and run the Class IV+ Meadowcamp section that ends in town. This later option is commonly referred to as "Lavacamp."

For a description of the run at low winter levels, see the Upper Deschutes page on the Orgeon Kayaking site. For additional information on recreational opportunities see the Deschutes National Forest web site.

Video of Scott Baker and Matt King running Lava in a Dynamic Duo at 2200cfs.  https://vimeo.com/46435033


Rapid Descriptions

Lava 1

Class - V Mile - -174.5

Lava 2

Class - V Mile - -173.8


Gage Descriptions

The Bureau of Reclamation's Deschutes River at Beenham Falls (BENO) gage applies to this section.

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

Date Flow Result Factor  
2012-08-05 n/a Fatality One Boat Trip Read More
2010-07-09 n/a Near Miss/Rescue Other Read More




Matt Deacon


Matt Muir


Thomas O'Keefe


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1202688 09/07/13 Matt Deacon
1192864 11/06/05 n/a n/a
1202706 09/10/13 Matt Deacon
1202661 09/05/13 Matt Deacon
1202670 09/05/13 Matt Deacon
1202663 09/05/13 Matt Deacon
1209677 05/23/18 Thomas O'Keefe minor edits
1212647 06/04/19 Thomas O'Keefe updated image position
1202738 09/15/13 Matt Deacon
1202743 09/19/13 Matt Deacon
1202720 09/11/13 Matt Deacon
1202739 09/15/13 Matt Deacon
1202638 09/05/13 Matt Deacon
1215187 06/06/20 Thomas O'Keefe updated image position
1209676 05/23/18 Thomas O'Keefe rapid mapping edits
1203140 03/08/14 Matt Deacon