About Dillon Falls
Dillon Falls was a run of class V rapids and cascades on the Upper Deschutes River while flanked by lava fields deposited from the Lava Butte eruption 7000 years ago.
It’s a similar situation to the nearby Benham Falls further upstream, but Dillon Falls felt less developed.
Indeed, Benham Falls had the sanctioned lookouts and two trailheads to access it, but Dillon Falls required that I go on either a bit of a dusty drive to reach its nearest trailhead or else hike an additional 3.5 miles from the Benham Falls East Trailhead.
That said, due to the less-developed nature of Dillon Falls, trying to find that satisfying all-encompassing view was hard to come by.
So I had to be content with the partial views that I was able to safely find.
Nevertheless, the flip side to its rather wild and undeveloped nature was that I at least enjoyed a more serene experience thanks to there being far fewer people.
Speaking of development, Dillon Falls was named after a homesteader by the name of Leander Dillon, according to my Gregory Plumb book.
From the Dillon Falls Day Use Parking Lot, I passed a picnic area and skirted by a calm part of the Deschutes River, where I could see people tubing or kayaking.
However, at about a quarter-mile, the river started to become turbulent, and this was where I suspected the Dillon Falls run began.
I probably spent the majority of my time on this excursion scrambling to try to find the best viewing spots without putting too much risk to my safety since there were no guardrails or designated lookouts.
I ultimately went as far as an additional 0.15-0.2 miles or so further downstream where I felt the Deschutes River was starting to calm down and represent the end of the run of Dillon Falls.
That said, it’s not like there’s an obvious spot where the Dillon Falls started and ended so the extent of my exploration was just my judgment call.
After having my fill of Dillon Falls, I just backtracked the way I went, and I wound up spending a little over 30 minutes for the entire excursion.
Dillon Falls resides in the Deschutes National Forest near Bend in Deschutes County, Oregon. It is administered by the USDA Forest Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.
I managed to visit Dillon Falls as we used downtown Bend as the base, so I’ll just describe the driving directions from there.
So assuming we’re going south on the US97 towards downtown Bend, I’d take the exit 138 towards Downtown-Mt Bachelor, which would lead us to a traffic light with NW Colorado Ave.
Turning right onto Colorado Av would put me on the path to the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway.
Following the one-way NW Colorado Ave westwards, I drove for about 7 miles (following the signs for Cascade Lakes as Colorado Ave became Century Dr).
Right before the entrance to the Cascade Lakes Welcome Center, I made a left turn onto USFS Rd41 (also called Dillon Falls Rd on GoogleEarth on Conklin Rd in my Garmin).
Then, I followed the Conklin Rd for about 2.6 miles before turning left onto the unpaved Dillon Falls Road (FS-600).
After another 0.7-mile on the FS-600 Road, I made another left right before the boat ramp area and drove to the Dillon Falls Day Use Parking Area.
Overall, this drive took me under 30 minutes.
For geographical context, Bend was 143 miles (over 2.5 hours drive) south of Hood River, 128 miles (about 2.5 hours drive) east of Eugene, 173 miles (over 3 hours drive) northeast of Medford, 162 miles (over 3 hours drive) southeast of Portland, and 319 miles (over 5 hours drive) west of Boise, Idaho.
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