Deschutes River State Recreation Area in Oregon
After flowing 252 miles from its origin, this is the point where the Deschutes River enters the Columbia River. About 20 minutes east of The Dalles, the Deschutes River State Recreation Area is a great place to stop for the night or use as a home base while fishing the Columbia or rafting the Deschutes.
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Know Before You Go
Day Use Fees: none
Boater Pass: required for anyone using a watercraft or floating device within the Deschutes and Columbia Rivers
Overnight Options: RV, tent, and group camping available
Just minutes from the interstate, this is an easy place to pull over and camp if you are making your way down I-84. It’s also a great home base location for all the outdoor activities in the area.
There are a number of campsites available. Loop A is paved with sites for RV’s. The remaining loops are grassy sites, including four group sites – which, at least when we were there, the groups were having a splendid time. It wasn’t a problem, but they were definitely loud and something to keep in mind when booking your stay. There is also highway noise and trains coming through during the night.
There are four trails within the park.
Blackberry-Riverview Loop: 3 mile loop with up close views of the river. Hiking only.
Ferry Springs: 1.3 miles one way, connects with the Old Railbed Trail. Steep sections, but rewarded with views of both the Columbia and Deschutes River and across into Washington. Hiking only.
Deschutes River, an Old Railbed Trail: 13 miles one way. First 2 miles are in the park, the remaining 11 are owned by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Hiking and biking. Horses by reservation from March through June.
Rock Pile: 2 miles one way. Hiking and biking.
National and State Scenic River
The headwaters of the Deschutes River is at Little Lava Lake, not far from Mt. Bachelor in the Cascade Mountains. The river runs through reservoirs, Ponderosa pine forests, and steep canyons before merging with the Columbia River. Sections of the river are designated as a National Wild and Scenic River and an Oregon Scenic Waterway.
With a little over 100 miles to reach the end of the Oregon Trail, emigrants faced the challenge of crossing the dangerous currents of the Deschutes River. Wagons were floated across, livestock swam, and many women and children were ferried across in canoes by Native Americans. Wagon ruts can still be seen across the river from the campground.
Optional Items to Bring
LEAVE NO TRACE
This section of the Columbia River Gorge is within the traditional territory of the Wasco people, a band of Chinook speakers. Today they are members of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.
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Places to Visit Near Deschutes River State Recreation Area