Deschutes River State Recreation Area

Park History

Acquired between 1963 and 1983 by purchase from various owners, transfer by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, and gifts of land from the Oregon Wildlife Heritage Foundation. The original tract for the area was 30 acres purchased in 1963 from the Columbia-Deschutes Power Company. This tract, with some of the later acquisitions, forms the developed portion of a riverside recreation complex. Adjoining the State Recreation Area is the Deschutes River Scenic Waterway. The lower Deschutes River from Pelton Dam to the Columbia River, some 104 river miles, was designated an Oregon Scenic Waterway in 1970. The purpose is to protect and enhance scenic, recreational, fish and wildlife values along the river while allowing public use of the river for boating, fishing and riverside camping. The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department manages the waterway in cooperation with Sherman and Wasco counties, U. S. Bureau of Land Management, Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation, Oregon Fish and Wildlife Department, State Marine Board and Oregon State Police.

Acreage: 708.62

Annual overnight attendance: 36,537

Annual day-use attendance: 264,318

Deschutes River State Recreation Area FAQ


Do I need a Boater Pass to access the Deschutes or Columbia River?

Yes, a boater pass is required for anyone using a watercraft/floating device to access the Deschutes River or the Columbia River. All passes are per person.

Currently, 3 boater passes exist:

1. Deschutes River Boater Pass: valid above Moody Rapid (from the Pelton Dam down to the I-84 bridge at Heritage Landing). Available for purchase online at: If accessing the Deschutes River below Moody Rapid only, just a Moody Island Boater Pass is required.

2. Moody Island Boater Pass: valid downstream from Moody Rapid (between the campground & Heritage Landing) and available for purchase at the self-pay kiosks ($2/per person/per day).

3. Heritage to Columbia Boater Pass: valid only from the Heritage Landing boat ramp out to the Columbia River and available for purchase at the self-pay kiosk at Heritage Landing boat ramp. ($1/per person/per day)  Also, a $15 annual pass can be purchased at the park office.

About Camping

Why is camping first come, first serve from Nov. 1 until Mid-April?

When the reservation system changed to the one day window (make a reservation today for tomorrow) that means somebody must check reservations everyday. A small park like Deschutes does not have enough employees from Nov. - April to check reservations daily.

If I am coming into the campground with a motorcycle group, (and no cars) how many motorcycles are allowed per site?

2 motorcycles are included with with the cost of your site. A maximum of 4 motorcycles are allowed in each site. There is an extra vehicle charge for any motorcycles over 2 in your site.

What's Allowed

Can I just show up and ride my horse on the trail?

No. The horse trail use is by reservation only from March 1 until June 30. Horse Permits are available through the Oregon State Parks online store: under "Tours/Events" and there is a reservation fee of $8 per horse. The trail is 22 miles round trip and open for use during daylight hours only. Overnight camping with horses is not permitted along the trail or at Deschutes State Park.

Is it okay to play loud music?

Due to the fact that people have different taste in music, we allow music to be so loud as to be heard in your campsite, and not your neighbor's site.

Between 10pm and 7am (Quiet Hours) no music is allowed.

Day use/Special Events

Do I need a permit for a wedding, picnic, baptism, family reunion, etc.?

Yes- If you have over 50 people, want to use a public address system, selling of goods or services, event requiring structures, will limit public access, commercial filming, and anything that requires park staff to be present.The above list does not cover all the activities that would require a permit. The permit is called a special use permit and should be completed 30 days before arrival.

Statewide FAQ

Available via this link