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Bend river floaters warned: Safe passage soon – but not yet


With warm weather upon us, the Bend Park and Recreation District reminded river users Wednesday that floating the Deschutes River between Riverbend and Drake parks still requires portage around the Colorado Avenue dam, until the new safe passage project is done later this summer.

As in previous years, floaters must take out upriver from the dam and walk around to the new pathway downriver to put back into the river. This will remain the case until late summer, when the new Bend Whitewater Park is anticipated to open. T

he whitewater park features three channels: one for whitewater recreation, one for safe passage for floaters and one for fish and wildlife habitat.

Although it may appear that construction of the river channels is complete, construction is still in progress, and for safety reasons, the area remains closed to the public, officials said, adding that the site is under video surveillance and people trespassing will be cited.

Also under construction and adjacent to the dam, McKay Park is closed until next year The only river access is for floaters and other river users to travel downstream. All other park uses and amenities are not available.

“There’s so much public excitement for the whitewater park to open, but it remains a dangerous construction zone this summer,” said Chelsea Schneider, landscape architect and project manager. “It’s possible to still float the river, but users must exit just before the dam as before.”

“The biggest change this year is that McKay Park is not open, so people will want to picnic and play at another riverfront park such as Miller’s Landing, Farewell Bend or Riverbend parks,” she added.

For additional information on how to safely float the river and for Bend Whitewater Park project updates, visit

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