With dozens of lakes and miles of river to explore, Bend has endless adventures on the water that families can enjoy together. In town, families can spend an afternoon floating the Deschutes River or paddling around the Old Mill District. For a bigger adventure, head up Cascades Lakes Highway to one of Bend’s many alpine lakes where you can kayak, canoe and paddleboard all summer long. Businesses in town will rent gear for the hour or the day, and some also provide lessons and excursions that families can enjoy together.
Standup Paddleboarding (SUP)
Standup paddleboarding is more than a passing fad. Easy to learn and fun for families on Bend’s lakes and rivers, paddleboarding is quickly becoming one of the most popular summer activities in the region. The hardest part about paddleboarding is finding (and keeping) your balance, but it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it. In the Old Mill District, Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe has paddleboarding lessons for anyone 16 and older. The classes cover basic paddleboarding techniques and safety. Once you’ve honed your skills, you can paddle up and down the calm water like a pro, or take a paddleboard up to a lake for a day.
Take your river floating to the next level with a rafting trip on the upper Deschutes River. In Bend, Sun Country Tours and Ouzel Outfitters have half-day and all-day trips where families can pick up a paddle and experience some of the West’s best whitewater that the river is known for, including Big Eddy, a series of Class III rapids that never fails to be fun.
Drive around Bend, and you’re bound to see plenty of kayaks stacked on the roofs of cars. In Bend, kayaking is a popular sport because almost anyone can do it. If you’re new to kayaking or want to practice your skills with your family before heading out on your own, both Tumalo Creek and Kayak and Wanderlust Tours provide kayaking and canoeing tours that can be custom made for your family. The tours are guided by outdoor experts, and all gear and transportation is provided.
Wanderlust Tours |541-389-8359
Tumalo Creek | 541-317-9407
Floating the Deschutes River
One of the best summer activities in Bend is spending an afternoon floating down the Deschutes River through town. The float begins at Riverbend Park in the Old Mill District and ends at Drake Park downtown. Midway through the float you will have to make a decision to exit or ride the rapids at the Whitewater Park. The rapids are a fun adventure, but Bend Park & Recreation District doesn’t recommended the route for young children or poor swimmers. A shuttle is available from the end of June through the beginning of September and costs $3 per person for the day. The shuttle stops at Riverbend Park, McKay Park and Drake Park. For the shuttle schedule, visit Cascade East Transit Ride the River webpage. While most people opt to bring their own river tubes, quality tubes are available for rent at Farewell Bend Park on the west side of the river near the park district administration building. Nearby Tumalo Creek and Kayak also offers rentals, allowing river goers to essentially float away from the shop, thanks to Tumalo’s riverfront location.
Bend Park & Recreation | 541-389-7665
Tumalo Creek | 541-317-9407