Bend Senior Center Summer Closure

Now – Sept. 2: Senior Center patrons may use their pass at Juniper Swim & Fitness Center.
Now – August 23: Senior Center classes and activities held at Marshall High School.
Learn more.

  • Playbook
  • News
  • Jobs
  • Register
{"autoplay":"true","autoplay_speed":"3000","speed":"300","arrows":"true","dots":"true","rtl":"false"}

Bend Whitewater Park

166 SW Shevlin Hixon Dr, Bend, OR 97702

Welcome to the Bend Whitewater Park. Located in the Deschutes River near the Old Mill District in Bend, Oregon, this in-water amenity offers a variety of river recreation opportunities including tubing, kayaking, and surfing.

The park is made up of three distinctly different channels:

  • The Fish Ladder – The Fish Ladder (formerly 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 who have children as part of the group, exit the river and walk to McKay Park to re-enter the river. Learn more about the Floating the Fish Ladder.
  • Whitewater Channel – Are you a whitewater kayaker, surfer or paddleboarder? The Whitewater Channel is your destination. This center channel of the park has four wave features for emerging to expert whitewater enthusiasts. Learn more about the Whitewater Channel.
  • Habitat Channel – The third channel of the park exists to protect and enhance river health and provide habitat to important local and migratory wildlife. There is no public access (by people or pets) to this ecologically sensitive area. Learn more about River Stewardship.

 

Bend Whitewater Park channels with labels - Fish Ladder, Whitewater Channel and Habitat Channel

Park History

Bend Whitewater Park is owned and operated by the Bend Park and Recreation District (BPRD). This river recreation park was conceived of through a partnership between Bend Park and Recreation District and the Bend Paddle Trail Alliance in 2007.

Prior to the redevelopment of the riverbed in 2014-15, floaters and paddlers had to exit the river before the Colorado Avenue dam to avoid entanglement in dangerous dam under-structure. It was impassible to migrating fish.

Tenacious dedication, community support through a 2012 bond measure, general fund tax revenues, grants and private contributions resulted in this project.

For safety, please abide by the following:

  • 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? They are available for free rental at Riverbend Park and Park & Float.
  • Consider your own and your child’s abilities before entering the river and always supervise children in and around water. There are no lifeguards at the river, so please take responsibility for your safety.
  • Use equipment intended for river recreation, not pool toys or low-quality tubes. Durable rental equipment is available at Riverbend Park, Park & Float 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, parking lots or on the river.

The following activities are prohibited at Bend Whitewater Park:

  • Don’t tether to the bridge or island and don’t use of bungee cords, ropes or other like devices. Ropes tied to fixed objects present a significant entanglement and drowning risk.
  • No jumping off the bridge.
  • No access to the park from the emergency ladder on the footbridge.
  • No alcohol, tobacco and marijuana use.
  • No motorized craft.
  • No swimming, diving or jumping within the Bend Whitewater Park; swimming is allowed from McKay Park beach.
  • No activity that obstructs the safe flow of river users.
  • No entering the protected natural area, riparian area or the river-right (east) island.

Unsafe or illegal behavior may result in exclusion and/or citation. Learn more about Bend Park and Recreation Rules and Guidelines.

WARNING:  The Deschutes River is wild and may present hazards not easily recognized. Always exercise caution when recreating in the river. Recreate at your own risk. No lifeguard on duty.

Each summer thousands of residents and visitors gather friends and family and share the popular Deschutes River floating experience beginning in the Old Mill District and ending at Drake Park in downtown Bend.Bend Whitewater Park channels with labels - Fish Ladder, Whitewater Channel and Habitat Channel

How to Float:

  • Park & Float is the starting point from early summer to Labor Day. From there, jump on the Ride the River shuttle ($3/all-day) to Riverbend Park beach. The park features restrooms, water fountains and electrical outlets for pumps.
  • Enter the river at Riverbend Park access point. New for summer 2019: the beach surface is small gravel, so river shoes that attach to feet are strongly recommended.
  • Stay left as you approach the Colorado Ave. Bridge. Follow directions on in-river signs.
  • Exit or Ride the Rapids:
    – If you want to add an adventure to your float, ride the rapids! We suggest getting out and scouting conditions before making your decision.
    – If you want to keep it mellow or if you have children with your group, 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 beach area.
  • The float takes about 90-120 minutes. If a busy day and/or riding the shuttle, it can be longer.

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 Fish Ladder is the perfect option for those who want to add a little rapids adventure to their float. Migrating fish go up the ladder, but floaters take the easier route with the river current and small rapids. For those who want to keep it mellow or who have children as part of the group, exit the river before the Colorado Ave. Bridge and walk to McKay Park to re-enter the river.
  • 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? They are available for free rental at Riverbend Park and at Park & Float.
  • Consider your own and your child’s abilities before entering the river and always supervise children in and around water. There are no lifeguards at the river, so please take responsibility for your safety.
  • Use equipment intended for river recreation, not pool toys or low-quality tubes. Durable rental equipment is available at Riverbend Park, Park & Float 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, parking lots or on the river.

River Floating Safety Tips

  • Be aware and plan. The Deschutes River has calm waters suitable for floating, but there is risk of harm and cold temperatures.  For more information on proper lifejacket use, visit the Oregon State Marine Board.
  • Protect native plant and wildlife! Enter and exit 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. Each summer more than 1,500 lbs. of trash are collected at one clean-up event. Please do your part to reduce what is left behind.
  • 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

  • June 15 – Sept. 2: Parking is available at Park & Float, Simpson Ave. and Bradbury Way, across from The Pavilion at 1000 SW Bradbury Way. Shuttles will be running regularly during the day.
  • It is best to use Cascade East Transit’s Ride the River shuttle to return to your vehicle at the end of your float. The shuttle stops at Riverbend Park, Park & Float and Drake Park.
  • The Ride the River shuttle service is available, June 15 through Sept. 2, Labor Day.  $3.00 for all day.
  • For more information, view Ride the River shuttle schedules and details.

Free Life Jacket Rentals: May 25 - Sept. 15 (weather permitting)

  • Kids & Adults: Free life jacket rental. Simply rent for the day, return by closing. No additional rental needed so you can safely play in the river, float, boat and swim.
  • If poor weather conditions, the rental trailer may be closed. If inclement weather, please call (541) 317-9407 to verify if the trailer is open.

River Rentals: May 25 - Sept. 15 (weather permitting)

  • May 25 – June 14: Early season rental trailer at Riverbend Park, 799 SW Columbia St.
  • June 15 – Sept 2: Float tube, surfboard, boogie board available at rental trailer at Park & Float at Simpson Ave. and Bradbury Way.
  • 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.
  • Rental Trailer Hours: 10:00 am – 7:00 pm, May 25 through Sept. 2. (weather-permitting)
  • Last tube rental is 5:00 pm; last paddleboard rental is 5:00 pm.
  • If poor weather or air quality/smoke conditions, the rental trailer may be closed. If inclement weather, please call to verify if the trailer is open.
  • Call (541) 317-9407 or visit tumalocreek.com for more information.

Parking for Floaters:

June 15 – Sept. 2: Parking is available at Park & Float, Simpson Ave. and Bradbury Way, across from The Pavilion at 1000 SW Bradbury Way. Shuttles will be running regularly during the day.

Ride the River Shuttle is available from June 15 – Sept. 2, 2019. The cost is $3 per person per day. More info at cascadeseasttransit.com/ride/ride-the-river/.

Bend Whitewater Park Parking Options:

Park & Float at Simpson Ave. and Bradbury Way, across from The Pavilion at 1000 SW Bradbury Way. One block south of the whitewater park. (Directions)
McKay Park, 166 SW Shevlin Hixon Dr. (westside) (Directions)
Miller’s Landing Park, 80 NW Riverside Blvd. (eastside) (Directions)

Park & Float

Park & Float, located next to The Pavilion on Simpson Ave. and Bradbury Way, offers everything you need to make your day on the river fun and easy. There is parking, snacks, lawn activities and more. Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe offers rental of durable river tubes and complimentary life jackets for children and adults. You can also rent a paddleboard, surfboard or kayak. Several floating options are possible from Park & Float.

Choose a two-hour float from Riverbend Park to Drake Park or a one-hour float from either Riverbend Park or McKay Park. For Bend Whitewater Park rapids and fun, Park & Float is only a block away.

The Ride the River shuttle begins and ends at Park & Float with stops at Riverbend Park and Drake Park. And there is bike parking on site if you want to skip a vehicle completely.

Park & Float services are available Saturday, June 15 through Monday, Sept. 2 and are weather-dependent. If poor weather, call (541) 317-9407 to see if the rental trailer is open.

Are you a whitewater kayaker, surfer or paddleboarder?

The Whitewater Channel of the Bend Whitewater Park is your destination! This center channel of the park has four wave features for emerging to expert whitewater enthusiasts. The features are created by twenty-six, underwater pneumatic bladders, natural and man-made riverbed conditions and dynamic river flows.

Bend Whitewater Park is a feat of innovation and engineering with complexities and seasonal variables keeping the river recreation operators – or wave shapers – busy year-round. Less than 1/10th of a degree in gate movement can mean the difference between good and world-class.

No other whitewater park compares to the versatility, complexity and overall functionality of the Bend Whitewater Park. The operational controls begin with 26 air bladders, or ‘gates’ that have been permanently affixed to the river bed to regulate critical habitat, and to shape whitewater waves for recreation. These gates can be manipulated in real-time from anywhere in the world by touchscreen controls.

What are the benefits of wave shaping?

The Deschutes River is dam-controlled and primarily serves water rights and irrigation needs. Bend Whitewater Park wave shapers keep water depth in Mill Pond seasonally stable, and even mimic natural seasonal flow changes. This work assists in providing critical habitat for the Oregon Spotted Frog, a species listed as threatened by the International Union of the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which reside in the marshes and wetlands in the Upper Deschutes River Corridor.

In addition, wave shapers manage flow going into the Fish Ladder to ensure that both juvenile and adult fish are able to travel through the channel successfully. During warmer months, tens of thousands of river recreationists use the Fish Ladder as a recreational feature. In 2018, 250,000 people floated through the Fish Ladder.

After these obligations are met, the wave shapers send the remaining water into the Whitewater Channel. This volume is highly variable throughout the year and is dictated by Oregon Water Resource Department and irrigation districts. While wave shapers can manipulate the volume and directionality of flow to some degree, the Deschutes River still has the last word.

How to Get to The Bend Whitewater Park

Location – 166 SW Shevlin Hixon Rd (Directions)
The Bend Whitewater Park is located in the heart of Bend in the Deschutes River north of the Colorado Avenue Bridge. Viewing is available on the pedestrian bridge and on the east side of the river and at McKay Park.

Summer 2019 update: A 4-hour parking limit will go into effect on July 1, 2019 for on-street parking near McKay Park and Bend Whitewater Park. The temporary parking limits will occur on Shevlin Hixon Drive, Bradbury Way and neighboring streets to enable access for residents and patrons of area businesses as well as park users at McKay Park and Bend Whitewater Park. Signage will notify drivers and park users about the pilot program and four-hour parking limit. Ample parking during daytime hours is available a block away at the Park & Float, 1000 SW Bradbury Way. Overnight parking is not permitted on park district property. Learn more.

Whitewater Waves

Jason’s Wave

Jason’s wave is the most down-river feature.  It is a beginner to intermediate wave suitable for play boats, SUPs, and boogie boards. It is best suited for people learning whitewater sports or refining their skills.

Jason Mitchell loved nature, photography, snowboarding, traveling, guiding on the river and, most of all, family and friends. Jason was playful and enjoyed sharing his love of the river. Jason Mitchell: 1974 – 2010.

Kricket’s Wave
Just up river from Jason’s wave, this feature is an intermediate wave/hole for more advanced play boat maneuvers. It is best suited for people with some experience in whitewater conditions.

Kricket Serota was an avid outdoor and river enthusiast who loved riding horses, cross country skiing, walking with her dog, snowboarding, windsurfing and kayaking. Kricket’s passion was teaching others (especially women) to love river recreation. Kricket Serota 1966 – 2012

The Green Wave
The next upriver feature is the Green Wave. It is a green, glassy faced wave ideal for short board river surfing, SUP surfing and flat bottom kayak surfing. This wave is best suited for experienced river users.

Eddy’s Wave
Nearest the bridge is Eddy’s wave which is the largest in the series and best suited for the most experienced river users. It is an advanced, retentive wave/hole for advanced play boat maneuvers.

Eddy Miller was bigger than life. He wondered at the metaphysical and natural world and prided himself on knowledge of plants, animals and insects along the waterways. Eddy Miller: 1952-2009.

Know Before You Go

  • Access to The Whitewater Channel is from downriver of the park at either McKay Park beach or Miller’s Landing Park. Do not access the channel from upriver.
  • The river-left (west) island is for line-up. There is no public access to the river-right island.
  • Life jackets and whistles are required for all boaters and paddleboarders.
  • Helmets are recommended. Board leashes, however, should not be used as they can get caught on underwater elements.
  • Always scout the conditions as river flows and wave features change frequently. Consider the waves above and below and plan your exit routes for each wave.
  • Check the Bend Whitewater Park Facebook page for updates and conditions at Facebook.com/BendWhitewaterPark
  • Look Before You Launch: The Deschutes River is dynamic and changing so always scout the waves above and below and plan your exit strategy.

Safety Information

Recommended Safety Equipment:

  • Cold water protective clothing and footwear
  • Throw rope
  • Life jacket
  • Helmet
  • Whistle

Prohibited:

  • Don’t tether to the bridge or island and don’t use of bungee cords, ropes or other like devices. Ropes tied to fixed objects present a significant entanglement and drowning risk.
  • No jumping off the bridge.
  • No access to the park from the emergency ladder on the footbridge.
  • No alcohol, tobacco and marijuana use.
  • No motorized craft.
  • No swimming, diving or jumping within the Bend Whitewater Park; swimming is allowed from McKay Park beach.
  • No activity that obstructs the safe flow of river users.
  • No entering the protected natural area, riparian area or the river-right (east) island.

Unsafe or illegal behavior may result in exclusion and/or citation.

WARNING:  The Deschutes River is wild and may present hazards not easily recognized. Always exercise caution when recreating in the river. Recreate at your own risk. No lifeguard on duty.

Wave Update:

Updated: June 19, 2019 9:00 am

Flow: 1031 cfs
Water Temp: 58.8 degrees F
Reservoir Storage: 101,002 acre-feet (50% capacity)

Information is at your fingertips!

Know before you go! Before you head down to the Bend Whitewater Park, check the updates here or on Facebook. These reports help you understand river flows and what activity/level each wave is set up for.

Please note that while the pneumatic bladders in the center channel of the Bend Whitewater Park allow us to manipulate the river to create waves and rapids, we do not control the flow of the river. This means a wave feature may be different than what is expected or intended without notice. We try our best to let you know when flows fluctuate and affect waves however, the Deschutes River is a natural body of water and can change.

Kayak Roll Session
Offered: Seasonally, spring, fall & winter
Come practice rolling your kayak in safety of the warm, water indoor pool. Please tape the end of your boat paddles. Program fee includes one person and one boat, additional people pay basic entrance fees. Space is limited to 12 boats, pre-registration is required.

See current offerings.

WARNING:  The Deschutes River is wild and may present hazards not easily recognized. Always exercise caution when recreating in the river. Recreate at your own risk. No lifeguard on duty.

Take the Virtual Tour

Before you head to the river, check out our virtual tour! Experience the Deschutes River and the popular floating route through the heart of Bend that is enjoyed by thousands of people every summer.

Image of the XploreIt logo.
Use your mouse to explore! Click and drag to move the camera around and select the orange icons to begin and continue your adventure.

Bend Park and Recreation District is committed to sustainability and river stewardship.

Vegetation and wildlife are integral parts of the Bend Whitewater Park and other parks along the Deschutes River.  Bend Park and Recreation District is committed to sustainability and river stewardship. With approximately a quarter million river users each summer, everyone has a role in maintaining the Deschutes River as a special place.

The Bend Whitewater Park was built with this purpose in mind. When constructed and opened in 2015, the project:

  • Removed the Colorado Street Dam and created a fish ladder to restore fish migration in this reach of the Deschutes River. The series of 12 small rapids nearest to McKay Park serves fish migration as well as river floaters. As a fish ladder, it helps fish travel upstream, a route that was previously blocked by a hazardous dam. While species of redband, brook and brown trout spawn at a specific time of the year, fish are present year round.
  • Created the Habitat Channel and maintains a year-round minimum flow level for protected species. The Habitat Channel is designed to protect wildlife and improve river health. The relatively shallow river depth supports riparian plants and wildlife. Look for osprey, willow and frogs among other native features as it continues to develop over time. To protect the sensitive nature of this area, it is not accessible to people or domesticated animals.
  • Installed several Osprey nesting posts. The presence of fish is also welcomed by happy ospreys that use the river area for foraging, roosting and raising their young on nest platforms.

Floating went green in 2018!

Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe launched a Citizen Stewardship Green Tube initiative to take care of the Deschutes River. From the Park & Float, next to the Pavilion on Simpson Ave. and Bradbury Way, a complimentary tube rental* is offered in exchange for floating with a special green tube and utilizing a rubbish collection kit. *One per group.

Learn more at tumalocreek.com.

River Cleanups

Help keep the Deschutes River clean and free from debris. Secure your belongings and make sure trash goes in bins.

Each summer more than 1,500 lbs. of trash are collected at one clean-up event. Please do your part to reduce what is left behind.

Want to be involved beyond your day on the river? Join the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council for Deschutes River Clean-up Day in late July. Volunteers remove weeds, debris and garbage from the river and riverbanks.

For more info: enjoyprotectrespectdeschutes.org

 

More ways to help

  • Protect native and protected species by staying out of the Habitat Channel, which is the river right and most eastern channel in the whitewater park.
  • Protect native plant and wildlife! Put in and take out of the river at designated boat landings and portage paths.
  • Help keep our river clean. Secure your gear to avoid losing personal items and disposal of garbage in the river.
  • City, State
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

The Fish Ladder, aka “The Rapids”

What type of equipment should I use in the Fish Ladder?

The Fish Ladder has both rapids and rocks so you’ll want to be prepared with the right equipment. Durable tubes, whitewater kayaks and whitewater paddleboards are suitable for the Fish Ladder. Flatwater kayaks, flatwater canoes, flatwater paddleboards and pool loungers should not be used in the Fish Ladder.

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.

Will I get splashed in the Fish Ladder?

Yes, the Fish Ladder is a very different experience from the relaxing floating in the flat water section of the river. You must be an active participant and paddle through the series of rapids to have fun and successfully navigate the section. If you don’t want to get splashed or flipped, please exit the river before the Colorado Ave. bridge, walk a short distance to the McKay Park beach, and re-enter the river for more flat-water floating.

What if my tube is stalled and isn’t moving forward

The hydraulics in the Fish Ladder can lead to a tube stalling in the same place until the river user paddles out of the spot or until another river tube bumps it free. The best advice is to remain calm, paddle your arms or to hold onto a friend’s hand or handle of another tube to increase momentum. If that doesn’t work, make your way to the riverbank and exit the river.

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 are the bladders and features controlled?

Filling and deflating the bladders is controlled electronically by the river recreation specialist 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.

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?

Other Questions

What is being done about trash along the river corridor?

We are disappointed about the trash along the river and encourage all river users to secure belongings and dispose of trash in bins in our river parks. We increase trash collection in the summer and work closely with community partners and others about ideas for a broader community-wide discussion around this issue.

Can businesses offer lessons in the Bend Whitewater Park?

To conduct business at McKay Park and/or Miller’s Landing Park adjacent to the Bend Whitewater Park, there is a permit process that requires proof of insurance coverage.  This is the process for sale, rental or promotions of merchandise or service; the provision of a paid service or program, instruction or training that includes use of dry land for anything more than quick transportation in or out of the Deschutes River.

The public is always welcome in our parks; therefore, a permitted business does not have exclusive use and business activity may not adversely impact general public use. See business use of a park for more information.