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Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe
Located in:
Bend, OR

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Tumalo Creek Kayak and Canoe has the largest selection of whitewater kayaks, sea kayaks, recreational kayaks, paddleboards and can (more...)
site home  :: self guided home  :: U.S. river guide  :: Rivers in Oregon  :: Deschutes River Oregon  :: Lava Island Whitewater Kayaking Trip

Lava Island Whitewater Kayaking Trip on the Deschutes River

Jayson Bowerman in the right side of Lava 1 at summer flows
Josh White in S-turn at winter flows at 650cfs Jason Wells in S-Turn at winter flows at 650 Jason Wells taking the meat of the right side of Lava 1 at winter flows at 650 Josh White taking the meat of the right side of Lava 1 backwards! at 650 Josh White paying for the backwards move at 650

View larger map of Lava Island & get directions
Click 'Earth' to fly through the canyon!
Lava Island Info
Use this information at your own risk. See our legal notices.
Put In:  Lava Island Campground
Take Out:  Meadow Campground
Difficulty:  Class V
Gradient:  72 ft/mi
Run Length:  1.25 miles
Current Streamflow:  897 cfs @ 03/03/2015 11:30 AM - BENO - Deschutes River at Benham Falls, OR, reading taken from USBR
Flow Information (phone):  Forested high desert river, mostly drop-pool with in a volcanic rock canyon.
Good Level:  400-2000 cfs
Streamflow Comments: 

The flow is very steady. It's either 400-500 cfs mid-September to mid-April or 1700-2000 cfs mid-April to mid-September.

Season Comments:  January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
Primary Season: 

Dam controlled. During the winter access to put-in and take-out may be blocked by snow. Fall and spring offer lower water for a safer descent down the falls. Summer offers high water and a very powerful V rapid

Permit:  No permit required. Parking pass or Northwest Forest pass required for parking at put-in and take-out.
Character/Similar To:  Forested high desert river, mostly drop-pool with in a volcanic rock canyon.
Hazards:  Lava Island Falls is class V and should be scouted. There are many wood hazards and large keeper holes. At the bottom of Lava 2 there is a river wide log that is easily avoided on river right.
Land Ownership:  Mixed public and private.
Wilderness:  no
Location:  In the Pacific Region (OR), 131 miles Southeast of Salem, OR
Area Name:  Central Oregon, near Bend.
Shuttle Logistics: 

Put in: From Bend travel west on Hwy 46 (Cascade Lakes Highway). Turn left on National Forest Road 41. Turn left at the sign that says Lava Island Falls and follow the road to the boat ramp.

Take out: From Bend, travel west on Hwy 46. Turn left at the sign that says Meadow Camp Picnic Area and follow the road to the parking area.

Lava Island on the Deschutes River

From the boat ramp at the put in, the action starts right away, with only flatwater for warm up. To scout the right side of Lava 1 you should paddle across the flatwater to river right and use the canal road. To scout the left side hike down river left were there is no trail. Make sure to scout all the way around the corner because below Lava 1 there is a long class IV rapid called "Cut Em Up".

The first drop is called S-Turn. It consists of a fun right to left airplane turn above a sticky hole. Make sure and have a clean line through S-Turn because Lava 1 is just below. During Summer flows(1000-2200 cfs), Lava 1 is usually run left of the island. There are two drops on the left side. The first drop should be run down the center, and to run the second drop you have to make a hard right to left move in order to avoid a nasty hydraulic called "Brads Butthole". During winter flows(400-1000 cfs), the right side of the island is a fast sloping drop into large hydraulic. From 400-800 cfs the hole is easily punched center, as long as you paddle fast and straght. Above 800 cfs the hole at the bottom becomes very sticky so it is best to enter the falls further left and stay left at the bottom.

Below Lava 1 there is a very continuous class IV rapid called Cut Em Up. This rapid flows for about a 1/4 mile before it reaches a large pool. If unfamiliar with the run you should scout this rapid all the way to the bottom because there are a few holes to avoid. For boaters familiar to this run, this section offers great eddy hopping and a few on the fly waves.

At the end of the pool below Cut Em Up is Lava 2. This drop can be and should be scouted from the canal road on river right. The beginning of the rapid is class IV+, at high water there are few eddies, and at low water this section can offer great eddy hopping. At all flows the line for this drop remains the same, although at high water it is very pushy and is always class V. On the right at the top of the drop is a large log filled sieve, so stay left. Once past that, move right to avoid the hole created by a 6 foot ledge. After the drop there is 100 yards of class IV read and run, but make sure to stay river right at the end of the canyon to avoid the river wide log. The take out is on river left shortly after you exit the canyon.

Lava Island falls is the final class V rapid in the Central Oregon Triple Crown of Kayaking, which also consists of Benham Falls, and Dillon Falls.

Last Edited by josho on 4/25/2011

Towns near Lava Island Kayaking

Bend Oregon
La Pine Oregon
Redmond Oregon
Sisters Oregon
Sunriver Oregon

Other Resources

Conservation Organizations
  • Bend Paddle Trail Alliance
  • Rogue Riverkeeper
  • Water Watch
  • Newspapers
  • Bend Bulletin
  • Pacific Coast Kayak Clubs
  • Lower Columbia Canoe Club
  • Oregon Kayak and Canoe Club
  • Oregon Whitewater Association
  • POCO - Paddlers Of Central Oregon
  • Willamette Kayak and Canoe Club
  • Travel Guides
  • Oregon Vacation & Travel Planner