Deschutes - 07. Lava Island Falls to Meadow Picnic Area

Deschutes, Oregon, US


07. Lava Island Falls to Meadow Picnic Area (Lava)

Usual Difficulty V (for normal flows)
Length 1.5 Miles

Lava 2- Medium Low

Lava 2- Medium Low
Photo of Marlow Stanton by Matt Deacon taken 03/07/14 @ 957 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Deschutes At Benham Falls
dream-168 500 - 2200 cfs V 09h27m 550 cfs (running)
Winter flows: 500- 1200 (IV-V). Summer flows: 1600- 2300 (V-V+)

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.


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2018-05-23 06:11:39


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
-174.5Lava 1VPhoto
-173.8Lava 2VPhoto

Rapid Descriptions

Lava 1 (Class V, Mile -174.5)

Bottom of Lava 1- Right Channel

Bottom of Lava 1- Right Channel
Photo by matt deacon taken 08/08/15 @ 1900 cfs

Lava 2 (Class V, Mile -173.8)

Lava 2 from below

Lava 2 from below
Photo by Matt Deacon taken 05/16/15 @ 1600 cfs

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