Deschutes River State Recreation Area RV & Campground Guide


The Deschutes River State Recreation Area in Oregon has a rich history and once provided sustenance to the Warm Springs and Wasco people moving through it. In the early 19th century, explorers and trappers arrived from the East Coast and were followed by settlers once the Oregon Trail was established. The state developed the recreation area between 1963 and 1983 on land purchased from private owners and donated by the Oregon Wildlife Heritage Foundation. Today, the recreation area is a popular destination for hiking, biking, and boating.

Nearby Cities:

  • Portland, OR

  • Chenoweth, OR

  • Biggs Junction, OR

  • Maryhill, WA

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Spring 52-72 F
Summer 55-89 F
Fall 36-81 F
Winter 30-48 F
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RV Resorts & Campsites in Deschutes River State Recreation Area

Campground Accommodations

Deschutes River State Recreation Area Campground

  • Water hookup: Yes

  • Electrical hookups: Yes

  • Sewer hookup: Yes

  • Wi-Fi: No

  • Pet-friendly: Yes

  • Max RV length: 24 feet

  • Other amenities: Flush toilets, showers, potable water, fire rings, picnic tables, boat ramp

Rufus RV Park

Just off the Columbia River, this campground is a great place to relax, or to go fishing, kiting, or windsurfing. 

  • Water hookup: yes

  • Electrical hookup: yes 

  • Sewer hookup: yes

  • Wi-Fi: yes

  • Pet friendly: yes

  • Other amenities: laundry, showers, close to river

Cottonwood Canyon State Park

Enjoy awesome views of the rugged canyon and rushing river, and the vast expanses of grasslands that spread as far as the eye can see! Camping here is rustic, but the views are worth it. 

  • Water hookup: no

  • Electrical hookup: no

  • Sewer hookup: no

  • Wi-Fi: no

  • Pet friendly: n/a

  • Other amenities: showers, hiking, fishing, boat launch

RV Rentals Near Deschutes River State Recreation Area

Nearby RV Rentals


What to Do at
Deschutes River State Recreation Area

Boating the Deschutes River is one of the main attractions of this recreation area. It is also popular for hiking, biking, fishing, and even horseback riding. In addition, many nature enthusiasts use the campground as a base camp to explore the Lower Deschutes Wildlife Area, which borders the recreation area to the south.

Inside Deschutes River State Recreation Area

There are a number of things to do in the Deschutes Valley, year-round.

Hiking: There is plenty of hiking along the river and throughout the park. On hot days, cool off with a trail near the river in the shade of the white alder trees (see if you can spot oriole nests hanging from the branches!).

Biking: There is also mountain biking available along trails that wind throughout the Deschutes River State Recreation Area.

Fishing: Fish for world-class steelhead and trout in the rivers within the state recreation area.

Boating: Heritage Landing is a popular launch for jetboaters, providing access to the Deschutes and Columbia Rivers. Jetboating is allowed on the lower segment of the Deschutes for most of the year.

Horseback riding: Horseback riding is permitted from March-June with a reservation. 

Rafting/kayaking: The Deschutes River drops about ¼ of a mile as it snakes through the canyons, making it a fun place for whitewater rafting, kayaking, and tubing.

Hiking Hiking

The Deschutes River Trail is moderately challenging. It is popular for hiking and biking. Along the way, you will be treated to spectacular views of the water on one side and mountains on the other. Make sure to bring plenty of water because the route is on the edge of the Oregon Desert. The recommendation is one gallon of water per person in your group. If you want a less strenuous hike, try the Deschutes River Canyon Trail, a loop that is 4.4 miles long.

Flora and Fauna

The varied wildlife in the recreation area includes bighorn sheep, mule deer, and river otters. Birders can watch for raptors like golden eagles and peregrine falcons. You may also be able to add California quails, ring-necked pheasants, and woodpeckers to your birding journal. Beginning in February, wildflowers such as Nuttall's larkspur, seep monkeyflower, and Oregon sunshine begin to bloom.

Geocaching Geocaching

The geocache in Deschutes River State Recreation Area is probably one of the toughest you'll ever pursue. It's somewhere on the Deschutes River Trail. Once you find it, you can proudly sign the logbook and take a prize. However, don't forget to bring a family-friendly item to leave in the container for the next treasure hunter.

Fishing Fishing

There are many species of fish in the Deschutes River, including almost every variety of trout, Chinook salmon, steelhead, and coho salmon. However, there are also numerous regulations. For example, you may not use bait or fish from a boat. In addition, each fish species has its own season and size regulations,, which you need to be familiar with.


The Deschutes River offers excellent boating, and nonmotorized watercraft are allowed everywhere in the waterway. There are some limits on speed for vessels with motors, and they are prohibited in some sections of the river. Life jackets are required no matter what kind of boat you have.

Swimming Swimming

Swimming also requires the use of life jackets. There is no beach at Deschutes River State Recreation Area, but you can swim directly from the shore.

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How to Get to
Deschutes River State Recreation Area

From Portland and all points west, drive east on Route 84, which follows the Deschutes River. When you reach the junction with Route 206, exit Route 84 onto Route 206. Continue east on Route 206. You will cross the Celilo-Wasco Highway Bridge, and Route 206 becomes the Fulton Canyon Highway. About 250 yards past the bridge, you will see the Deschutes River State Recreation Area entrance on the south side of the road.

From Bend and all points south, follow Route 97. It will take you all the way to the Deschutes River State Recreation Area.

From Yakima, Washington, and all points north, take Route 82 south until you reach the junction with Route 97 in Toppenish. From Toppenish, drive south-southwest on Route 97 until you reach the junction with Route 14. Continue east on Route 97 and cross the Sam Hill Memorial Bridge. Once you're on the Oregon side of the bridge, cross Route 84. Then, proceed southwest on the Biggs Rufus Highway. Biggs Rufus Highway becomes Fulton Canyon Road. Follow Fulton Canyon Road about 200 yards to the entrance.

Entering Deschutes River State Recreation Area

Parking is available near the entrance to the recreation area. The day-use fee is $1.

Whether you are interested in exploring Oregan's outdoors on land or by boat, Deschutes River State Recreation Area has an adventure waiting for you.

Frequently Asked Questions About Deschutes River State Recreation Area

What is the best time of year to visit Deschutes River State Recreation Area?

Summer is the best time for fishing, boating, and swimming at the recreation area. Alternatively, spring is the best time for photographing wildflowers in bloom, and hikers will enjoy the mild weather and the explosion of life after winter.

What kind of wildlife can be found in Deschutes River State Recreation Area?

All kinds of birds, including riparian and upland songbirds, raptors, and waterfowl, are plentiful in the recreation area. While hiking, you may spot mule deer and bighorn sheep. In addition, you are likely to see otters and beavers while exploring the Deschutes River Trail.

Are there designated RV camping spots in Deschutes River State Recreation Area?

There are 34 campsites with full hookups for RVs in the campground. Additionally, there are 14 primitive sites for either RVs or tents and four group campsites.

Do you have to reserve a camping spot at Deschutes River State Recreation Area and what is the cost?

Reservations are required, and you can make them up to six months in advance. There is a $6.50 reservation fee.

Are pets allowed at Deschutes River State Recreation Area?

Pets are welcome at Deschutes River State Recreation Area. You can take them with you on the hiking trails, and your furry companions are allowed in the day-use area. However, they must be on a leash, and you are responsible for cleaning up after them.