Get the Most out of Your Deschutes River Float

A visit to Central Oregon in the summer would not be complete without a float down the famous Deschutes River. It’s wide, calm and family friendly — with a few small rapids for adventurous souls (easy to avoid if you wish.)

Locals and visitors alike feel this river call to them. It’s a fun way to experience Bend, Oregon, in a completely different way. And on a hot summer day, what could be better than the cool mountain water?

Don’t jump in just yet! Floating the river requires a bit of planning, but we’ve got you covered. Just follow these ideas for what to bring, what not to bring, where to go, and other tips for an awesome float, and you’ll be on your way.

What to BringBoy wearing a life jacket

  • Flotation devices. Obviously, you’re going to need something to float on. For this river float, forgo the typical pool toys and opt for something sturdier, like an inner tube. It won’t be fun for anyone if your flotation device breaks partway down the river. Remember, you’re out in nature and nature means rocks and sticks. If you don’t have something to float on, rentals are available at Riverbend Park from Sun Country and Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe.
  • Rope/tether. This is in case you want to tether your tubes together. It’s a lot of fun and helpful if you have kids with you.
  • Life jackets. Oregon state law requires life jackets for all boaters, paddleboarders, and children 12 years old and under (tubes tethered together may be considered a boat). If you don’t have life jackets, they are available for free rental at Riverbend Park at the Sun Country trailer. If you will be on a paddleboard, you also will need to carry a whistle.
  • Waterproof, high-SPF sunscreen. Even if you already have a tan or think you’ll be fine out in the sun for the afternoon, think again! The Deschutes River is above 4,500 feet, which means the sun can burn your skin fast. Make sure you have a decent SPF, and apply as often as directed on the bottle.
  • Water-friendly shoes. The river has plenty of rocks that can hurt your feet, so make sure to bring shoes you can wear in water, such as sturdy sandals or shoes made specifically for water use. Leave the flip flops at home! The current will easily carry them away.
  • Water. Stay hydrated in the summer heat. Go with plastic or stainless steel, like a HydroFlask, since glass can break.
  • A way to secure your personal items. You won’t want to lose your keys or cellphone in the river! Bring something to secure them while you float, such as a waterproof pouch you can wear around your neck.

What NOT to Bring

Alcohol. No drinking allowed in or around the river. Same with marijuana.

Where to Go

You’ll start at Riverbend Park in the Old Mill District and can float all the way to Drake Park in downtown Bend. There’s an exit to the left right before you enter the passageway channel of the whitewater park, as well as at the whitewater park itself if you don’t want to do the entire float.

Tips for an Awesome Float

  • Prepare. Talk with everyone in your group about logistics, rules of the river, and how to stay safe. Allow for at least an hour to 90 minutes for your float time.
  • Decide your journey beforehand. Before you float, decide if you’re going to get out before the passageway channel or not. There’s an area to exit the river to the left; otherwise, you stay to the left and go through. The left passage for floaters is fairly gentle, but will still be going over some bumps in the river. The City of Bend’s Parks & Rec website has a map here.
  • Figure out drop off and pick up. If you have someone willing to pick you up and take you back to your car, great! Just be aware that the parking areas can get busy. Otherwise, check out the Ride the River shuttle service for $3 (check the site for a schedule). Park your car 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, McKay Park, and Drake Park. If you’re doing a shorter float (i.e. getting out before or at the whitewater park) you can potentially walk back to a car parked nearby.
  • Tether! If going in a group or with kids, consider tethering your floats together so you stay in a group. It’s less stressful than having to keep track of everyone going different speeds. Plus, it’s fun!
  • Respect nature. Don’t ever litter in or around the river. Protect native plants and wildlife by getting in and out of the river at designated areas.
  • Check out the amphitheater schedule. If a concert is going on at the amphitheater, it can be fun to float at that time and hear some of the music. View the amphitheater’s website here.
  • Float the river virtually! To feel even more prepared, the City of Bend’s Park & Rec virtual river float site lets you float the river from the comfort of your home. Then you’ll know what to expect before you even arrive.

Where to Stay

There are plenty of hotels in the area, but why not try a vacation rental? It’ll feel more like home, with close proximity to all of Central Oregon. Do a quick search at Cascara Vacations to see what types of rentals are available. Also, be sure to check out the recreational and dining discounts!

The Happiness of Spending More on Experiences, Not Goods

Buying the newest smartphone, tablet, or TV seems to be a rite of passage these days, as if we almost have no choice but to buy the latest and greatest. The same thing goes with buying a bigger house, a sweeter car, and a bunch of other material possessions. It’s like we just can’t stop until we have all the things we’re “supposed” to have.

The question is, why are we even doing this? Is it necessary? Does it really make us happier? Consider this: If you could spend the weekend on a kayaking adventure somewhere beautiful like Central Oregon, would you put off buying a new gadget? What would put a bigger smile on your face for longer?

Several scientific studies say that not only do more things not equal happiness but also that rather than “stuff,” what really make us happier are experiences:

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Don’t Pay More Than You Should for a Weekend Getaway

After a long work week, no doubt you look forward to getting away from it all. A weekend getaway is the perfect opportunity to rest, refuel, and recharge from the daily demands of life.

Since most people work during the week, it’s pretty typical to want to remove yourself from the daily grind by heading out of town on the weekend: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The vacation industry knows this, and so they have invented the “peak times” concept, where you end up paying more for a room just because they’re in higher demand.

Basically, hotels or Airbnbs jack up their prices, knowing people will pay because we don’t have a lot of choice. The same concept also happens during “summer peak” or “holiday peak.”

We’ve accepted this because so many hotels and vacation companies do it. But have you ever stopped to think how unfair this is? You certainly can’t control the days you work. And if a hotel is busier over a weekend, why are they charging you extra when more of their rooms are getting booked?

In short, you could be paying more for your weekend getaway than you need to.

Save Money on Your Rental

The solution? Shop around. Find a vacation rental company that doesn’t increase their rates just because it is a weekend, holiday, or busy season.

Cascara Vacation Rentals, located in Sunriver, Oregon, believes that “slow and steady wins the race.” Rather than charging vacationers more for busier times, they like to keep an even and fair weekday-to-weekend cost during the summer and winter holiday seasons, as well as off-seasons. In fact, Cascara even offers free nights depending on when and how long you stay.

Now that’s more like it! This is a company that doesn’t buy into the “peak times” concept and values its customers over making a quick buck.

Cascara is family owned, and putting their customers first is at the core of their values. They are focused on helping you have a great experience so you’ll come back again and again.

Look for Extra Amenities

Another thing to look for when choosing a room is what amenities the hotel or rental company offers. Many rooms you rent will offer the basics, such as complimentary toiletries. Again, we’ve accepted these as standard and don’t always look for what else they could be offering.

Cascara goes above and beyond. They offer special discounts for their customers you probably won’t find elsewhere in Sunriver, such as:

  • Lost Tracks Golf Club  — This Central Oregon 18-hole golf course is tucked away into the tall pine trees. It’s a Brian Whitcomb, par-72 course you will find equally challenging and beautiful. With a Cascara Vacation Rental stay, you get a discount on greens fees and receive the VIP treatment.
  •  Wanderlust Tours — Available year round, you can take advantage of less expensive guided canoeing, kayaking, caving, snow shoeing tours, and much more!
  • Play — When you stay at Cascara, you can get discounts at local businesses that can make your weekend getaway even more memorable, such as ATV Rentals, Snowmobile Rentals, Guided Fishing Tours, Outfitting, and more! Call Cascara for details.
  • Local Restaurants — Get 10 percent off at Blondie’s Pizza or Marcello’s Italian Restaurant, two tasty Central Oregon eateries.

A weekend away to relax shouldn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. If you skip the places that charge you “peak time” rates and instead go for a vacation rental company that offers you more for less, not only can you rest better at your weekend getaway, you can also definitely afford to get away more often!

Summer Fun for All at the Pacific Crest Sports Festival

The crowds gather with bells and signs as racers take their marks. All the preparations — the blood, sweat, and tears that go along with race training — have come to this. This special place. Every year, thousands gather in Sunriver, Ore., in the spirit of sport, camaraderie, and the outdoors. And why wouldn’t they? Central Oregon boasts some of the best views in the world for runners, bikers, and swimmers.

Calling all athletes

Stages of a triathlon

Register for the race here

Planning, preparation & FAQs

More on the Pacific Crest Sports Festival

Now in its 21st year, the Pacific Crest Triathlon and Weekend Sports Festival takes place the last weekend in June, this year set for June 23-25, 2017. Athletes and their families come from all over the country and even the world to take part in the multi-faceted event in this picturesque location. From most any vantage point are water, trees, and mountains.

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Cascara: The Sweet New Drink Trend After Our Own Heart

By / 21st April, 2017 / Uncategorized / No Comments

At Cascara Vacation Rentals, we’re all about bringing people to nature, especially to the lakes and mountains of the Cascades. In fact, we got our name from nature: the cascara tree is native to the Pacific Northwest, which we call home.

The name cascara, interestingly enough, also has other ties to nature. Did you know that it’s the name of a popular drink made from the coffee plant? Read on to learn more.

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Planning a Memorable Valentine’s Day or Anniversary Getaway

By / 10th February, 2017 / Road Trip, Travel / No Comments

Grab a box of chocolates and a dozen roses — hmm, wait a second. Are you tired of the typical romantic fare yet? Ready to shake it up and really connect with your significant other?box of valentine's day chocolates

While flowers, candy, and dinner are always welcome, they’re kind of playing it small and safe, not to mention that true connection with each other is often lost. To really say “I love you” in the way your loved one wants to be told, consider giving the gift of quality time through an amazing getaway for two.

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Central Oregon Skiing: The Resorts You Have to Experience

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If the powder calls to you from the first snowstorm ’till the last flake, you might be a winter sports enthusiast. Though the winds might chill and the treks might be tiring, you know the ride is always worth the effort. Sometimes, though, you wish the ski resorts weren’t so crowded…

That’s where Central Oregon ski resorts come in. While still very accessible from Portland and nearby cities, the mountains of Central Oregon are among the best-kept secrets in the skiing world. If you find yourself dreading the typical overcrowded skiing experience but aren’t quite ready to venture into the backcountry, then we encourage you to check out what Central Oregon has to offer.

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7 Unique Ways to Preserve Memories of Your Vacation

By / 16th December, 2016 / Travel / No Comments

You’ve just come back from the trip of a lifetime, and you want to remember the sights, sounds and feelings forever. There are plenty of unique ways to preserve memories of your travels. Gather up your photos, trinkets and imagination and let’s get going.

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Rental Home Management: Why It Pays to Have Help


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