Here are some frequently asked questions
and answers about the park

Passageway Channel

What type of equipment should I use in the Passageway?

The Passageways has both rapids and rocks so you’ll want to be prepared with the right equipment.

  • For whitewater enthusiasts, it’s suggested to use whitewater paddleboards, surfboards and kayaks.
  • For floaters, it’s advised to use a durable tube that can handle contact with rocks as well as river turbulence. Avoid using pool toys, pool loungers and other items not specifically designed for whitewater or contact with rocks.

It used to be called the safe passage and now it isn’t. Why?

We are now calling the left-side channel the “Passageway” to accurately convey expectations for users. What is safe to one person may not have the same meaning to another individual.  The Passageway has greatly improved overall safety for floaters and water enthusiasts who do not wish to exit the river; however, it is still a wild river so there are inherent risks.

Whitewater Channel

What are the features in the middle channel?

The middle channel is made up of twenty-three underwater, pneumatic bladders that fill and deflate with air to move in different angles to influence the shape of the river. Conditions will vary daily based on water flows and pneumatic influences.

Jason’s Wave: The first feature (furthest down-river) was designed for the beginner using a variety of watercraft.

Kricket’s Wave: The second feature was designed with kayaking in mind. As water levels vary, this feature could also be a great experience for stand-up paddleboarding.

Green Wave: This feature is being modified over the winter to improve the experience for surfers.

Eddy’s Wave: This wave (closest to the bridge) produces the largest wave and is best for advanced kayaking.

How many pneumatic features are there in the park?

The quantity of river flow into the two active channels is controlled by gates located just under the Colorado Ave. Bridge.  There are an additional 23 bladders within the four features in the whitewater channel.  Bladders look similar to a long inner tube that can be raised and lowered by filling/deflating the bladders with air.

How are the bladders and features controlled?

Filling and deflating the bladders is controlled electronically by person using a tablet or from inside the control vault.  Each time a bladder is manipulated, all other features are impacted. Feature conditions are also influenced by the river flow which occurs naturally as well as a result of the amount of water released from Wickiup Reservoir. The art and science of creating particular conditions for each feature will improve over time.

If river conditions vary daily, how can I get the latest information?

Be sure to check the Current Conditions page.

In addition, the Facebook page for Bend Whitewater Park has regular wave reports from the wave shaper. This is the best source for information about the whitewater channel for experts and should be consulted before heading to the park.

What was done to improve safety in the whitewater channel?

Additional fine-tuning engineering included:

  • Improved eddy surfaces
  • Improved performance of Kricket’s and Green waves
  • Reduced safety hazards identified in the whitewater channel

Other Questions

What safety inspections were conducted prior to opening the Bend Whitewater Park?

Several regulatory entities were involved in the planning, design, construction and testing phases of the project. It has also been evaluated multiple times by swift water rescue teams. In addition, the District received very important evaluations by users who were experiencing difficulties this past year.

What is being done about the trash at McKay Park?

We are disappointed about the increase in trash in McKay Park and along the river. We will be adding additional trash cans in the area, and assessing how we direct more resources to help collect the garbage during peak times.  We’ll also be talking with community partners and others about ideas for a broader community-wide discussion around this issue.

Will businesses be permitted to offer lessons in the Bend Whitewater Park?

Yes, within these parameters:

A business has received a permit to base a lesson/program on park district land. Short-term business operations permits will be available in McKay Park and in Miller’s Landing. Permits are for 1.5 hours and available from 5:00 AM to 9:30 AM, Monday – Thursday. Two permits will be available for each permitted time period for each park.

5:00– 6:30 am – 2 permits allowed – class size limited to 4 customers and 1 instructor

6:30 – 8:00 am – 2 permits allowed – class size limited to 4 customers and 1 instructor

8:00 – 9:30 am – 2 permits allowed – class size limited to 4 customers and 1 instructor

Permit limitations:

  • Permits will be limited to an 8 week period; one business may have up to 3 permits at any given time.

Permit requirements:

  • General liability insurance of $2M naming BPRD as additionally insured
  • Classes operating in the Deschutes River must abide by all Oregon Marine Board rules and regulations.

Permit use:

  • Permit holders and class participants do not have exclusive use of the park.
  • Class activities may not adversely impact general public use of the parkland or in the Whitewater Park. Areas of use in the Bend Whitewater Park include the Whitewater Channel and the Passageway Channel.
  • Permit holders must have a copy of their permit with them during permitted use.

Permit process:

  • Submit a request on-line or visit the Bend Park and Recreation District office.