Backpack Deschutes River Canyon

  • Image shows five backpackers on the bottom right of the image on a trail with columnar basalt cliffs behind them. In the distance on the left of the image is a canyon with the Deschutes River below.
  • Image shows a man in sunglasses and a pink shirt pouring a plastic bag full of potatoes chips onto a blue Tupperware lid on the right side of the image. Behind him is a view of an arid river canyon with the canyon side sloping upward to the left of the photo and a clear blue sky.
  • Image shows a woman in the center of the photo with her hair in a bun wearing a backpacking backpack posing with a bouquet of wildflowers. Behind her, a group of people are packing up their packs. In the background of the image, the sun is shining brightly and a ray of sunlight extends into the lower right corner of the photo.
  • Image shows three women wearing backpacks off-center in the photo. They are looking at the camera smiling and are standing on a trail with tall sagebrush around them. At the bottom of the photo, there are purple flowers blooming.

The invigorating smell of sagebrush and lyrical song of the Western meadowlark is the background for this trip. Only in May is the Deschutes River Canyon green and dotted with bright wildflowers. The canyon is a high desert ecosystem similar to the wide open spaces of Wyoming, but through the canyon flows the clean, clear Deschutes River, famous for whitewater rafting, trout, and steelhead fishing. You’ll be hiking on the traditional lands of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, and in a few large side canyons, with careful searching, you can still find pictographs drawn by the original inhabitants of this wilderness. The route follows old railroad grades, cattle trails, and some eroded Jeep tracks, with lots of off-trail exploring inviting you to scramble up the canyon walls for views of Mt Hood and Mt Adams. Each day we’ll hike through this remarkable landscape carrying everything we need on our backs, and sleep in tents near the river at night. Read the detailed trip description to learn more.  All backpack trips here for May Trips 2021 will start at the Deschutes River State Recreation Area trailhead.


Review our plans, participant expectations, and procedures for COVID-19 mitigation:

Covid-19 plan for May Trips


Trip Specifics

Dates: Saturday, May 8 - Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Cost: $295. Need-based financial aid is applied on a sliding scale for those who qualify. 

Rigor: High

Equipment & Packing List

Required Forms

Trip Pictures

Check out pictures from other times we’ve gone here!