With 95 miles of river, the Deschutes has something for everyone. Floating the river is an extremely popular activity during the summer months. Fall floats, however, can be even more enjoyable. With less people, less heat, and more colors, floating the Deschutes River in September and October is one of our favorite activities in Sunriver.
Arrive at LaPine State Park by driving south on Highway 97 and turning right onto State Recreation Road. Drive about 4 miles into LaPine State Park and follow signs to the boat launch. You’ll want to be sure to leave a car at the Big River boat ramp so that you can shuttle yourselves and your boats when your float is over. To get to Big River from Sunriver, drive out to the main traffic circle (with the waterfall) and head west on S Century Drive. Turn left onto South Century Drive for 3.1 miles and then turn right onto S Century Drive for 2.8 miles. The boat launch will be on your right just before the bridge.
Keep your eye out for wildlife while you float, as there will be lots peeking out from the trees and brush. You will also pass the “Big Tree,” or “Big Red,” Oregon’s largest Ponderosa Pine. Standing for more than 500 years, this tree is 162’ tall and almost 29’ around. There are spots to pull over in this area to explore and get a close view of the tree. You can spot it from the river by looking for a giant tree with a wooden fence around the bottom of it. Bring your lunch, lots of water, and some sunscreen and you’ll be set for this 2.5-hour float.
You can rent your kayaks and paddleboards from Good 2 Go Food & Fun, located in the Sunriver Village. Save time by renting your floating devices from these guys and having them make your lunch. They’ll pack delicious sandwiches with chips that are ready to go on your safari with you. Not only will you find your boards, life jackets, and lunch here, you can also have them shuttle you to and from the float. For $50 for adults and $40 for children 12 and under, the crew will load your group into their van and put your rented boats onto their trailer so you won’t have to think about another thing until they pick you up at Big River!
If you’re looking for a longer float, start at Big River boat launch and plan your float down to Harper Bridge. To park a car at Harper Bridge, drive out of Sunriver to the main circle (with the waterfall) and take the first exit west on S. Century Drive. Rather than turning right onto S. Century Drive, go straight. You will see cars parked along the road and then see the bridge. You will want to parallel park along here to have your car waiting for you at the end of your float.
During this float, you will see some of the forest filled with wildlife, but a lot of it is weaving through the communities just outside of Sunriver. You’ll also see some beautiful homes and most likely some heron and deer on your way. The float is all flat water, so you can kick up your feet and float the day away. This float will take about 3-4 hours, so again, be sure to bring plenty of food and water aboard. Good 2 Go Food and Fun will be happy to rent your floating devices and pack your lunch for this float as well.
Forgot your outdoor supplies? Grab sunscreen, sunglasses, hats and more at the Camp Abbott Trading Co. in the Sunriver Business Park. Enjoy the fresh fall air and beautiful scenery on one of these fall activities in Sunriver.