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Bend Whitewater Park

Photo courtesy of Luke Menasco

The beating heart of aquatic adventure in Central Oregon is Bend Whitewater Park—where a trio of Deschutes River channels invite kayakers, paddlers, surfers, and floaters to test their mettle all year long.

Bend Whitewater Park sits in the Deschutes River and comprises three distinct channels—each designed for different uses.

– The Fish Ladder channel is most popular among floaters and paddlers looking to enjoy a few rapids.
– The Whitewater Channel welcomes thrill-seeking paddlers on kayaks, surfboards, and paddleboards with four wave features tailored to enthusiasts of all skill levels.
– And the Habitat Channel is reserved solely for local and migrating wildlife—and is designed to preserve, protect, and improve the health of the Deschutes River.

The park sits just north of the Colorado Avenue bridge in Bend and is open all year long. (Yes, you may see surfers honing their craft in the depth of winter.) See the action from above on the bridge’s sidewalk—or enjoy riverside views from McKay Park, which is immediately west of the whitewater park.

Most outdoor enthusiasts who ride the park’s rapids do so while floating the Deschutes River in summer—when a slow flow makes the Fish Ladder channel more welcoming to novices. More adventurous visitors should consult the official Bend Whitewater Park website for current conditions, safety information, and other helpful tips.

Open Season


Dog Friendly and/or Leash Rules

Leashed dogs are permitted.

Best time to visit


Don’t Miss

Float the Deschutes River in summer—and tackle the Fish Ladder channel, where a series of bumpy rapids provides a chilly thrill.

Fees or Pass Needed



There are no ropes, lifeguards, or lifeguard equipment on site—so those getting in the water should have the proper attire, understand their abilities, and assess the conditions beforehand. The latest conditions—including water flow and water temperature—are available on the Bend Whitewater Park website.


Paddling Water Sports



Free, four-hour parking is available on Shevlin Hixon Drive, Bradbury Way and other nearby streets—as well as at Park & Float, where most floaters get their gear and begin their adventure on the water. The Park & Float complex is about 0.2 mile from the river.


Watch surfers, paddlers, and other whitewater enthusiasts from along the SW Colorado Avenue bridge, which connects the Old Mill District area to Bend’s westside. You can also get a riverside view from McKay Park; the 1.2-mile drive from downtown Bend takes about five minutes via NW Wall St., Colorado Avenue, and SW Bradbury Way.

Other stories

More inspiring stories, adventures, and tips & tricks for planning and experiencing the best Central Oregon has to offer.

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    Why is Bend, Oregon So Popular?

    Bend and the broader Central Oregon region are unlike anywhere in the state. Nowhere else in Oregon, after all, can you hike to alpine lakes, ride bikes through the sprawling high desert, and celebrate with creative cuisines and award-winning craft beers—all in one day. Couple that with a sunny climate and plenty of Bend, Oregon, tourist attractions, and it’s easy to see why this region resonates so broadly.

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