hiking trails along the deschutes river: benham falls on the wild and scenic deschutes river in bend, central oregon, the deschutes ochoco national forest.

The Deschutes River hiking trail to Benham Falls accessed at Bend or Sunriver in central Oregon

Benham Falls on the wild and scenic Deschutes River in central Oregon is really a series of rapids, formed when the Deschutes strains at the bounds of lava flows. It's actually quite magnificent to see, and fortunately for us, we can easily see them. This is not so with Dillon and Lava Caves Waterfalls, which are downstream from Benham Falls. Though the Deschutes River hiking trails passes within proximity of both of these falls, the view is obscured by lava flows. Benham Waterfalls are not rated passable for watercraft, being rated Class 6. Though it is a "rapid" it has a pitch of 22.5'. Some say the "waterfall" is 100' long when in truth, the rapids just slope downhill as the river flows. The rapids are quite majestic as I think can be seen in this photo.

Dillon and Lava Cave Falls are rated class 5. Dillon Falls begins with a 15-foot (4.6 m) drop, then becomes a steep and violent class 5 rapids with a tree in the center, of all places. This riotous flow isn't unending, however. Wait long enough and everything changes, as is the case with Dillon Waterfalls. They settle as relatively subdued class 2 and 3 rapids. As I understand it, and I certainly wouldn't make a decision based on what you read here, experienced rafters run the falls and take out at Lava Island Falls downstream. As a caveat: Dillon Falls have an additional danger The Deschutes River, wild and scenic as it is, is very calm, wide and open above Dillon Falls. If you note the lower picture of the Deschutes River, you'll get an idea of what I'm trying to say. For much of its flow, the Deschutes River is placid as a sleeping baby, and this is the way the Deschutes flows just before Dillon Falls. Then the river turns ... and flows through a channel built by hardened lava. The lava walls can deceive, secreting any sound that travels upstream, so if you're listening for them, but don't hear them, don't think they're not there. Warning signs are there, I understand. Don't ignore them. The temptation might be very real to do so judging from the peaceful calm of the river before.

Like Benham and Dillon Waterfalls, Lava Island Falls are rapids on the Deschutes River. They too are rated Class 5. And like Dillon Falls, they are difficult to navigate. This time because an island of lava from Lava Butte blocks the river.

Don't take any of these "rapids" or "waterfalls", whatever you choose to call them, lightly.

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Forward ~ LaPine State Park in Central Oregon: Big Red.

Back ~ Hiking Trails on the wild and scenic Deschutes River near Bend, Oregon.

USFS: The Deschutes National Forest in Oregon.

Explore Central Oregon: Travel Directions, Map and Scenery.


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Travel Oregon and northern California while staying at Gathering Light ... a retreat
located south of Smith Rock near Crater Lake National Park.

walking at wood river wetlands, one of the many klamath basin birding trails near crater lake national park and gathering light ... a retreat in southern oregon: cabins in the forest on the river near crater lake national park.

Travel to Gathering Light .... a retreat on the West Cascades National Scenic Byway: Travel Directions, Map and Scenery.

Directions to and Day Trips in either Oregon or California of about 100 miles from the retreat.

Explore little known Scenic Places near Crater Lake National Park and the retreat: hiking trails, sightseeing, wildlife viewing, birding trails and more: Directions Map & Scenery.

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The cottage (pictured above) at Gathering Light ... a retreat. Rustic simplicity, a place to "Just Be", Gathering Light is nestled on the banks of the river, surrounded by the Fremont Winema National Forest of southern Oregon and not far from Crater Lake National Park.

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