The lower Deschutes River sits at the bottom of a deep basalt canyon cut by the river itself. The surrounding area is a high, semi-arid desert dotted with juniper and sagebrush. Maupin, which is located in the rain shadow of Mt. Hood, receives only about 12 inches of rain a year. Down in the canyon there are pockets of oaks and sumac. One particular location, called Cedar Island, is the only place on the lower Deschutes that has Cedar trees growing. Fauna in the canyon is just as varied including Osprey, migratory waterfowl, upland birds such as chukar, various song-birds, mule deer, bighorn sheep and elk to name a few.
In the river itself there is a world-renowned strain of rainbow trout, the Deschutes Redside, known for their bright coloration and exceptional strength. Also world famous are the Deschutes steelhead who arrive in mid-summer and can be pursued into late fall. Aside from these famous game fish there are also Chinook salmon, whitefish, pacific lamprey and even the occasional bull trout. The river itself is worth a visit for its beautiful scenery and its rapids. The lower Deschutes has many well known rapids, such as Boxcar and Oak Springs, enjoyed by thousands of rafters in the warm summer months.