Last year Outside Magazine announced to the world that Bend, Oregon is, in fact, the best place on the planet to stand up paddle board. Thanks, guys. With our cover blown, it's not surprising that paddling the stretch of river between Riverbend and Drake parks has become an activity not unlike Tinder meets bumper boats at a family fun center. For a little more elbow room check out these spots.
Little Lava Lake
It's hard to believe that this little lake is the birthplace of the Deschutes River. Though small in size, its shallow sapphire waters can easily occupy an entire day. With an average depth of eight feet, Little Lava is remarkably clear. The views aren't limited to below the surface either, as Bachelor, Broken Top, and South Sister stand sentinel over the waters. There's a campground on site too, if you decide one day just isn't enough. To get there take Cascades Lakes Highway approximately 40 miles to Forest Service Road 500.
This stretch of river between Bull Bend and Wyeth campgrounds is a gentle 1.8 mile run and affords a much better chance of seeing wildlife of the non-human variety than its downstream, through-town counterpart. It is critical to exit the river at Wyeth Campground as it is the last place to safely portage around Pringle Falls just beyond. Both campgrounds are accessible by taking 97 South to County Route 43 for 7.9 miles, follow the signs off Forest Road 4370 from there.