The A-to-Zs of Central Oregon: D is for DESCHUTES

  Photo by Danny Walden

Photo by Danny Walden


The River
We love the Deschutes! You may know it as the beautiful, rolling river that passes right through the town of Bend. Throughout its course, the Deschutes gathers many of the tributaries flowing down from the generally drier, eastern side of the Cascades. It's a powerful, diverse river, starting modestly at Little Lava Lake, and continuing on to become a main tributary of the mighty Columbia River. If you want to learn more about this amazing river, we lead daily canoeing and kayaking trips in the spring and autumn! 


The History
For thousands of years, the Deschutes was an important landmark for Native Americans traveling to and from the Columbia River. It was originally named Towarnehiooks, until French fur traders renamed it the Rivière des Chutes, meaning River of the Falls. The famed cartographers Lewis and Clark first encountered the river on October 22, 1805, briefly renaming it Clarks River, and it proved to be a pretty huge obstacle for those who subsequently followed the Oregon Trail.


Visitors and locals alike have long enjoyed watching the water as they stroll through Drake Park. Kayaking, rafting, canoeing, and stand-up paddle-boarding are all popular activities. In the warmer weather, it's become increasingly popular to "float" the Deschutes on inner tubes. As with any ecosystem, it's important to be mindful of how we interact with the river and to strive for the least possible impact on its inherent health.

Much like Walt Whitman, the Deschutes is large, and contains multitudes! While it provides fun, and respite from the heat for hundreds of people every year, it's also a delicate ecosystem that supports a variety of wildlife! Fish like Trout, Salmon, and Steelhead rely on the water to stay cool, oxygenated, and clean in order to thrive. A large number of bird species (like the Osprey,  Belted Kingfisher, or Great Blue Heron) also rely on those fish as a food source-- not to mention that all animals need a reliable, clean source of drinking water, including the elk, bears, otters, marmots, foxes, lynxes, beavers, and countless other animals that rely on the Deschutes to stay alive. 


How to Help
It's always worth considering how you might be affecting the watershed, and the easiest way to avoid further contamination is by purchasing products that won't negatively affect the water. Pesticides are a huge factor in the pollution of rivers-- seek out organic alternatives to products that prevent weeds or pests. It is also important to remember not to pour prescription drugs or any harmful chemicals (including the ones in your cosmetics!) down your toilet. 

The Coalition for the Deschutes is a wonderful nonprofit that advocates for the health and safety of the Deschutes River. They host educational workshops and cleanup events, as well as fundraising for important projects.

We suggest you consider donating or volunteering with them on behalf of this great cause. 

  Coalition for the Deschutes

Coalition for the Deschutes

The A-to-Zs of Central Oregon: C is for CASCADE LAKES

Did you know that just west of Mount Bachelor are a series of beautiful lakes? These are the Cascade Lakes, and we love to explore them on our canoes and kayaks in the summer. Many of them are accessible by the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, which is closed during the winter months. If you're interested in exploring the lakes, we have amazing canoe and kayaking tours in the warmer months, and our Naturalist Guides can offer up even more fascinating information about these spaces. 



some of our favorite Cascade Lakes: 

Sparks Lake


This is one of our favorite lakes in the area, with amazing views and plenty of opportunities to learn about the local landscape and wildlife-- there are about 370 acres of lake wetland, surrounded by another 360 acres of meadow, marsh, and stream wetlands! Needless to say, we have a lot to share about this area's biodiversity. 

Todd Lake


Originally called Lost Lake because it was difficult to find, this lake sits at 6,150 feet, making it the highest of the Cascade Lakes. Todd Lake is right at the foot of Broken Top, and you can see some pretty stunning views from this area. We love this lake for its natural beauty and for its policy of no motorized boats, which protects this ecosystem so that plants and animals can thrive. 

Elk Lake

  Photo by Danny Walden

Photo by Danny Walden

Elk Lake is a popular destination year-round, but particularly in the hot summer months. The most trafficked of the Cascade Lakes, Elk Lake is a great spot for paddling the crystal clear waters and taking in some amazing views. The lake is also home to trout and kokanee, or land-locked lake populations of sockeye salmon. 

Hosmer Lake

  Photo by Danny Walden

Photo by Danny Walden

Hosmer was originally called Mud Lake, but the name was changed to honor local naturalist Paul Hosmer, whom we plan to profile on this blog at some point. This is another well-protected lake, with lots of opportunities to see local wildlife. Only fly-fishing is allowed at Hosmer, and the bulrushes provide a great habitat for the salmon and brook trout that occupy its clear waters.

Davis Lake


Davis is one of the shallower lakes but offers up some beautiful scenery. The lake was formed by a lava flow, blocking Odell Creek to form a resting body of water. This lake can cover over 3,000 acres in the winter months but becomes quite a bit smaller in the summer, when the water can easily escape through the surrounding volcanic rock. This is one of the most popular fly-fishing lakes in the Pacific Northwest. 


  Photos by Danny Walden

Photos by Danny Walden


There are many more lakes to cover, but these are just a few of our favorites. We lead daily canoe trips on these amazing lakes in the warmer months.

If you're interested in seeing amazing views while sampling some amazing beers from the local breweries we outlined in last week's post, check out our super fun Brews and Views canoe tour! 

The A-to-Zs of Central Oregon: B is for BREWERIES


With the most breweries per capita in the state of Oregon, it's no secret that Bend has got a great selection of craft beer! Central Oregon's arid landscape and pure, crisp water are some of the factors that make the beer so delicious. That's part of why we started the Bend Brew Bus tours-- breweries are such a huge part of the culture in Bend, and the art of beer-making is something to be celebrated and enjoyed. 



There are currently over 20 breweries in the Bend area, with locations right in downtown Bend, and as far out as Redmond, Sisters, and Sunriver! So, if you choose to visit them all, you'll get a wide variety of scenery, beer selections, and food choices. Here are just a few of our favorites:



Cascade Lakes Brewery is partnered with Wanderlust Tours for our Brews & Views Canoe and Snowshoeing Trips, so we're a little biased, but we think they make delicious beer! On top of that, there's an abundance of great pub food and a fun, laid-back atmosphere at their Lodge location. We especially dig the Blonde Bombshell when we're in the mood for a nice smooth ale. 



Silver Moon is one of our favorite places to stop on the Bend Brew Bus. We love touring their brewing setup-- they really know what they're doing. Aside from having great food, delicious beers (check out the IPA 97 if you're into hoppier beers), and a super cool atmosphere, they also host great events like live music and trivia!



Worthy is an amazing place to visit. They have it all: delicious food, award-winning beers, and even a Hopservatory! How many places can you enjoy a freshly crafted beer, and then closely observe the cosmos? 


  Photo by Tyler Rowe

Photo by Tyler Rowe

Crux is another local favorite we're lucky to visit with the Bend Brew Bus! We love their food, especially the Pig Newtons (figs wrapped in bacon!!!). Also, did you know they just came out with a delicious new beer called Play Wave? They never fail to deliver a unique, quality experience, and we always recommend stopping by to enjoy their excellent wares and their great outdoor seating area!



Deschutes Brewery is one of the most quintessential Central Oregon breweries, and we highly recommend paying them a visit if you haven't. We love their beer, and for some of our custom tours, we pair events with their beers. After all, who wouldn't want to hike up Black Butte, and then enjoy a Black Butte Porter? There's nothing better!


If you're interested in taking a unique and enriching tour of the breweries in our area, join us on one of our daily Bend Brew Bus tours!