Late Winter Runs on the Deschutes River

Spring has arrived and wintertime paddling on the Deschutes River is coming to an end.  Within a few weeks, the Middle Deschutes will be reclaimed by farmers and ranchers in Central Oregon leaving this stretch of river nearly bone dry. So, this may have been my last run of the season here between Tumalo State Park and Cline Falls State Park.

It is a 10-mile stretch and water levels were about 700 CFS which means it’s flowing fast and deep, covering shallow rapids but making dramatic features in others.

I love paddleboarding this section and always look forward to paddling here each winter. Some named rapids like Awbrey Falls (mandatory portage) and some unnamed ones offer exciting challenges to even the most skilled whitewater SUP athlete.

Though mostly Class IIs and IIIs, the rapids all tend to be shallow. It was nice to be on my Atcha which has a retractable fin system called the StompBox.

If you plan to run this bit of river, be sure to have a river running background, be prepared for a wild ride in a desert canyon, and dress every bit the part of whitewater kayaker. I recommend following and wearing SHIPPS: shoes, helmet, insulation, PFD, padding/body armor, and a signaling device such as a whistle.

Also, respect private property. Near Awbrey Falls land owners don’t like people on shore scouting.

Paul Clark is a tech rep for Hala Gear.


The Lineup

Our Top Picks