After adventuring the Cascades and exploring the Old Mill District, it's time to relax. Grab an inflatable donut and meet at Riverbend Park to enjoy one of Central Oregon's most popular and majestic attractions the right way. Sit on your biscuit and float your way through downtown Bend taking in all the beautiful scenery—but just be sure you know how to get back to your car with the keys.
You're Going to Want the Right Shoes
From jagged rocks on the river to the sizzling pavement, your feet will thank you for putting on some water shoes. Nothing ruins a float like figuring out how to get back to the car without scalding the bottom of your feet. Sandals will not get it done; this is a river, not the beach, and the river will not hesitate to send your flip-flops on a float of their own.
This is nature's pool. You're just floating in it—so leave your chlorine-filled pool toys at home, they won't help you here. State law requires all boaters, paddleboarders (all ages) and children under 12 to wear a lifejacket on the river. They're available to rent for free at Riverbend Park, where floaters typically enter the river, and at the Park & Float parking lot near The Pavilion on Simpson and Bradbury.
Secure Items to Avoid LitteringSummertime is for laughing and having fun—and most importantly, embracing the stress-free environment. What's not stress-free is losing your keys, wallet or phone in the river because you didn't take the time to secure your items. Bring a backpack for items to avoid losing them. For things like protein bar wrappers, it might be best to just leave the items in the car. Trust me, you'll be alright. The float is only 90(ish) minutes long and it's really hard to post on Instagram when your phone is #waterboarded.
Protect the Plants
Bend's Whitewater Park has three channels: one on the left for floaters who want some light rapids, one for "experts" and those who think they're experts, and one for wildlife. We know you're wild, but stay on the left. If you have experience in whitewater or river surfing, take your chances on the middle whitewater channel. Don't feel like hitting the rapids? Hop out at the Colorado Avenue Bridge and walk the path to McKay Park. It usually turns out to be a very entertaining walk for the left channel travelers and folks with kids re-entering the river. If you go for it and wipe out, no worries—everyone is laughing with you, not at you.
Water Good; Booze, Not So Much
Cooling off in the river water is nice, but having a refreshing beverage is crucial. Hydration is key during the sweltering heat of summer, so be sure to bring along a refillable water bottle. The downfall of the traditional counterpart, the plastic bottle, is it's not friendly to the environment and it doesn't keep your "water" cold. (There's a reason Hydro Flask was founded in Bend.) As for other adult beverages, keep your cans in check. It's actually against local rules to drink booze on the river, so be cool, peeps.
For detailed information about the Bend Whitewater Park and other amenities and parks available in Bend, check out the Bend Park and Recreation District site at bendparksandrec.org.