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Bend/sunriver Thousand Trails
Bob and Nadine Johnston
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Having a great time on the Deschutes River in central Oregon is a major tributary of the Columbia River. Walking around the Thousand Trails Preserve, for six weeks. The river provides much of the drainage on the eastern side of the Cascade Range in Oregon, gathering many of the tributaries that descend from the eastern, drier flank of the mountains. It provided a major route to and from the Columbia for Native Americans and later pioneers on the Oregon Trail. It flows mostly through rugged and arid country, and its valley provides a cultural heart for central Oregon. Today the river provides irrigation and is popular in the summer for whitewater rafting and fishing.
The headwaters of the Deschutes River is Little Lava Lake, a lake in the Cascade Mountains located approximately 26 miles northwest of the city of LaPine. The river flows south into Crane Prairie Reservoir then into a second reservoir (the Wickiup Reservoir, from there it heads in a northeasterly direction past the resort community of Sunriver into the city of Bend. In Bend, much of the river's waters is diverted for irrigation by the Central Oregon Irrigation District; as a result, the river is much smaller when it leaves the city. Mirror Pond is an impoundment in central Bend for electrical generation and a scenic area in Drake Park.
The river continues north from Bend, past the city of Redmond. As it heads north through the central Oregon desert, the river carves a gorge, bordered by large basalt cliffs. By the time it reaches Lake Billy Chinook west of Madras, the river is approximately 300 feet below the surrounding plateau, Little Agency Plains and Agency Plains. At Lake Billy Chinook (a lake formed by Round Butte Dam), the river is joined by the Crooked and Metolius rivers.
December 25th, 2012
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