Floating the River

Gather your friends and family and share the popular floating experience beginning at Riverbend Park in the Old Mill District and ending at Drake Park in downtown Bend. Before you go, check out our tips below.

Here’s what you need to know

  • Midway down the floating corridor you will need to make a decision, exit or ride the rapids. The passageway is the perfect option for those who want to add a little rapids adventure to their float. For those who want to keep it mellow or have children, exit the river before the Colorado Ave. Bridge and walk to McKay Park to re-enter the river.
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  • July 8 Update: The portage path for exiting/re-entering the river has changed to create a more direct portage path with distance between river users and sewer and park construction projects. Be prepared to walk the route shown above. Footwear is advised. Be sure to pay attention while re-entering the river, as the City of Bend is still working on a sewer project near McKay Park.
  • Wear a life jacket! State law requires them for all boaters, paddleboarders and children 12 years old and under. Whistles are also required with boats and paddleboards. Need a life jacket for your child? They are available for free at Riverbend Park at the Sun Country trailer.
  • Consider your own and your child’s abilities before entering the river and always supervise children in and around water.
  • Use equipment intended for river recreation and avoid using pool toys or low-quality tubes. Rental equipment is available at Riverbend Park and local retailers.
  • Be responsible. For everyone’s safety, be familiar with Oregon State Marine Board regulations on river recreation and don’t drink while recreating in or around the river.
  • Alcohol is not allowed in the parks or on the river.

River Floating Safety Tips

  • Be aware and plan. The Deschutes River has calm waters suitable for floating, but it also has points of danger. For more information on proper lifejacket use, visit the Oregon State Marine Board.
  • Protect native plant and wildlife! Put in and take out of the river at designated boat landings and portage paths (see map).
  • Help keep our river clean. Secure your gear to avoid losing personal items and disposal of garbage in the river.
  • State law requires that each boat or paddleboard carry one Coast Guard approved life jacket for each person on board, and children age 12 and under are required to wear life jackets. Boaters and paddleboarders are also required to carry a whistle.

Parking & Ride the River Shuttle

  • Park at Riverbend Park or use public parking on Columbia St.
  • It is best to use Cascade East Transit’s Ride the River shuttle to return to the park at the end of your float. The shuttle stops at Riverbend Park and Drake Park.
  • The Ride the River shuttle service is available, June 15 through Sept. 5, Labor Day. (It will also run June 11 -12 if the temperature is 75 degrees or warmer.) Cost is $3.00 for all day. View 2016 Ride the River schedule, fees and route.

Free Life Jacket Rentals

  • Available through Sun Country Tours at Riverbend Park, Memorial Day through Labor Day.
  • Kids 12 & Under: Free life jacket rental. Can simply rent for the day, return by closing. No additional rental needed so kids can safely play in the river, float boat and swim.
  • Kids & Adults Over 13: Life jackets included with float, paddleboard or boat rental.
  • Available at Riverbend Park: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, now through Labor Day.
  • If poor weather conditions, the trailer may be closed. If inclement weather, please call (541) 382-6277 to verify if the trailer is open.
  • More information on rentals at: http://www.suncountrytours.com/River_tubing/

River Rentals: Now through Labor Day

  • Sun Country Tours operates a float tube and standup paddleboard rental service at Riverbend Park from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
  • Float tubes are professional-grade tubes meeting today’s safety standards, not the old-fashioned truck tire tubes or lightweight dime-store blow-ups. Comfortable for a relaxing float, tubes feature mesh bottoms and handles.
  • Two different types of standup paddleboard are available – entry and performance level. Standup paddleboard lessons are also available.
  • Look for the stainless “Float the River” trailer between the beach and parking lot.
  • Hours are 10:00 am to 5:00 pm daily, seven days a week.
  • If poor weather conditions, the trailer may be closed. If inclement weather, please call (541) 382-6277 to verify if the trailer is open.
  • For rates and more information, visit http://suncountrytours.com/ or call (541) 382-6277
Deschutes River Virtual Tour
GearUp-RiverFloating

How to Float:

  • Start at Riverbend Park beach. The park features parking, restrooms and electrical outlets for pumps.
  • Stay left as you approach the Colorado Ave. Bridge.
  • Exit or Ride the Rapids
    • If you want to add an adventure to your float, ride the rapids! We suggest getting out and scouting The Passageway conditions before making your decision.
    • If you want to keep it mellow or have children, exit the river before the Colorado Ave. Bridge and walk to McKay Park to re-enter the river.
  • Re-enter at McKay Park beach to continue your float.
  • When you see the Galveston Ave. Bridge, move to the right side of the river.
  • End your float on the right side of the river at Drake Park.
Unsafe or illegal behavior may
result in exclusion and/or citation.
Emergency: Call 911
Maintenance: 541-388-5435