Lower Deschutes River Back Country Byway
Department of Transportation.
The byway follows the nationally recognized Lower Deschutes River through a Columbia River basalt canyon. The river was designated a National Wild and Scenic River System and is used for rafting and fishing. The byway has a variety of wildlife such as big horn sheep, otter, and osprey, so keep your eyes open and bring your binoculars.
Not only does the river have great rapids, it is also nationally known for its outstanding trout, steelhead, and salmon fisheries. Spend some time at the camping and picnicking grounds scattered throughout the byway. Stop at Sherar's Falls where you can watch the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs fish from cliff side platforms with large nets on the ends of long poles. You can explore this area on foot, or you can horseback ride. The relatively flat terrain makes exploring by bicycle very easy, but you will need to be aware of large vehicles such as rafting company busses and RV’s, especially during the summer months. If you plan to raft the river, you should know that the rapids have been classified as up to Class IV, and that all persons floating the river must have a valid BLM boaterpass. Boater passes are available for purchase online at www.boaterpass.com.
Getting to the Byway:
From Madras to Maupin:
- From Madras take Highway US 97 north for 24.9 miles and veer left onto US 197.
- Follow Highway US 197 North for 22.1 miles to Maupin.
- Do not cross the bridge in Maupin as the byway is the road that runs along the eastern bank of the Lower Deschutes River.
From The Dalles to Maupin:
- From the Dalles take Highway US 197 South to Maupin.
- When you reach the downtown area of Maupin continue down the hill and cross the bridge.
- The byway is the road that runs along the eastern side of the Lower Deschutes River.
Navigating the Byway:
The byway stretches north and south from Maupin.
- Drive north from the Maupin bridge for 1/4th mile.
- Take the first left onto the Lower Deschutes Access Road. This road runs along the eastern bank of the river, and is paved.
- After about 10 miles you will come to a stop sign where the road intersects with Highway 216. At Highway 216 turn right (north) and continue about 1/2 mile to the first gravel road which will be on your left.
- Turn left (north) off of the pavement and follow the gravel road 24 miles to where it dead ends at Mack’s Canyon Campground. This is the north end of the byway.
- Drive south from the Maupin bridge for less than 1/4th mile.
- Make the first right (south). This road runs right along the eastern bank of the river, is paved for three miles, and then will turn to rough gravel for one mile.
- The byway dead ends at a locked gate.