You Don’t Know Deschutes

Deschutes River History-Imperial River Company

The Deschutes River is Maupin’s lifeblood, bringing fishing, recreation, jobs, and irrigation to the town and surrounding areas. The river has a long and rich history and many interesting features that make it unique. Check out some fun river facts below and impress your friends at trivia night.

A River by Any Other Name

The Deschutes River may have a bit of an identity complex. The Nez Perce tribe named the river ‘Towarnehiooks’ (translation: ‘enemies’) because a warring tribe, the Paiutes, lived along its banks. Part of the Lewis and Clark expedition recorded the Towarnehiooks name on their first encounter in 1805, then attempted to rename it the Clark River on their return in 1806. That name didn’t last long however, as early 19th century French fur traders dubbed the waterway the catchier ‘Riviere des Chutes’, which means ‘River of the Falls’, later dubbed the Deschutes.

Going with the Flow

The Deschutes River originates at Little Lava Lake in the Deschutes National Forest. Rainfall on the eastern side of the Cascade Range flows north down the Deschutes River to its mouth at the mighty Columbia River.  While most rivers cut their own path, the Deschutes had a much more dramatic and sudden change. It originally flowed around Pilot Butte in Bend from the east. Approximately 188,000 years ago, a lava flow filled in that channel during a period of volcanic activity in the area and the river was diverted into a new channel along the west side where it runs today.

The Other 98%

The high desert plateaus of Eastern Oregon are arid and rainfall averages between 10 and 14 inches per year (the national average is 38 inches per year). The Deschutes River allows cities to grow and enables ranching and agriculture to proliferate in the otherwise inhospitable environment. But desert living comes at a cost: during the summer months, nearly 98% of the river’s volume is diverted to irrigation channels.

As we head in to our summer season, we are thankful for the beautiful river that allows our city to flourish in this stunning landscape. We hope you’ll join us to celebrate life on the Deschutes and to take advantage of the many recreational opportunities in and around Maupin.

Imperial River Company
Lodging and Rafting on the Lower Deschutes River

“SUP” With That? An Intro to Stand Up Paddle Boarding 

SUP in Maupin - Pine Hollow Paddle, X-Dog Events

A Brief History of SUP

Stand up paddle boarding, or SUP (“the act of propelling oneself on a floating platform with the help of a paddle or pole”), is the world’s newest water-sport craze. There is evidence, however, of early forms of SUP dating back over 3,000 years and spanning the globe from Peru, China, Israel, and beyond. Modern SUP can trace its early origins to 1960s Hawaii and the Waikiki Beach Boys of Oahu, and pro-surfer Laird Hamilton laid the groundwork for the sport with a well-documented SUP outing on September 12, 2002.

Over the last 17 years, the sport has exploded in popularity and there have been huge advances in equipment and materials design. Today, SUP-based activities include racing, yoga, touring and fishing. There are dozens of board rental companies and guides across the state of Oregon and plenty of social media groups and pages dedicated to sharing best practices and tips on optimal SUP locations around the globe.

SUP in Maupin

The Maupin area is a top choice for SUP aficionados due to the range of water conditions and our sunny, high-desert climate. Pine Hollow Reservoir in nearby Wamic, Oregon is a beautiful flat-water option for newbies to the sport. The Lower Deschutes River offers some calm stretches with slow-moving currents that are great for those with a little more experience. Expert SUPers can tackle the rapids along the Deschutes for an added challenge. Plus, if you want some extra company, you can bring your best fuzzy friend along for the ride.

One of our favorite SUP events is the X-Dog Events’ Pine Hollow Paddle, which takes place on the first Saturday in June. There are five different race events and a celebratory ‘paddle parade’ at the end of the racing day. This event truly is fun for the whole family and beginners are encouraged to participate!

Helpful SUP Information

  • SUP For Beginners:  REI has a series of articles detailing all that beginners need to know to get started with SUP.
  • Class & Rentals (Portland): Travel Portland’s list of SUP classes, SUP yoga, and where to get geared-up in and around the City of Roses.
  • SUP in the City: Travel Oregon serves up some of the best SUP sites across the state.

Stand up paddle boarding is a great workout and a fun group activity. With so many places to splash around, why not make this summer your summer of SUP?

Imperial River Company, Maupin OR
Lodging and Rafting on the Lower Deschutes River
(541) 395-2404

Photo: X-Dog Events, Pine Hollow Paddle