Deschutes County, Oregon

Deschutes County, Oregon
Deschutes County, Oregon
Map of Oregon highlighting Deschutes County
Location in the state of Oregon
Map of the U.S. highlighting Oregon
Oregon's location in the U.S.
Founded December 13, 1916
Named for Deschutes River
Seat Bend
Largest city Bend
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

3,055 sq mi (7,912 km²)
3,018 sq mi (7,816 km²)
37 sq mi (96 km²), 1.20%
 - (2010)
 - Density

52/sq mi (20.1/km²)
Time zone Pacific: UTC-8/-7

Deschutes County (play /dəˈʃts/) is a county located in the U.S. state of Oregon. In 2010, its population was 157,733. The county was created in 1916 out of part of Crook County and was named for the Deschutes River, which itself was named by French-Canadian trappers of the early 19th century. It is part of the Bend, Oregon, Metropolitan Statistical Area and is the political and economic hub of Central Oregon. The county seat is Bend.

Deschutes is the fastest-growing county in Oregon.[1]



French-Canadian fur trappers of the Hudson's Bay Company gave the name Riviere des Chutes (River of the Falls) to the Deschutes River, from which the county derived its name.[2]

On December 13, 1916, Deschutes County was created from the southern part of Crook County. Bend has been the county seat since the county's formation. It was the last county in Oregon to be established.

The Shevlin-Hixon Lumber Company also operated within the Bend area processing Ponderosa pine trees.


Deschutes county road department at work, February 2011

During the 1990s, Deschutes County experienced the most rapid growth of any county in Oregon largely due to the availability of recreation activities year-round, and its location as the nearest population center to much of the central Cascade Range. Beyond tourism, principal industries in the county are lumber, ranching and agriculture—chiefly potatoes. The Forest Service owns 51% of the lands within the county boundaries.

Deschutes County is the home of four destination resorts as defined by Oregon's Department of Land Conservation and Development. These resort are major employers within the county. Three of these resorts, Sunriver, Eagle Crest, and Pronghorn, are among the county's ten largest tax payers.[3]


Deschutes County politically falls more in line with the eastern side of the state than the western side. The majority of registered voters who are part of a political party in Deschutes County, as well as most counties in eastern Oregon, are members of the Republican Party.[4] In the 2008 presidential election 48.96% of Deschutes County voters voted for Republican John McCain, while 48.66% voted for Democrat Barack Obama and 2.37% of voters either voted for a Third Party candidate or wrote in a candidate.[5] These numbers represented a significant shift towards the Democratic candidate when compared to the 2004 presidential election, in which 56.4% of Deschutes Country voters voted for George W. Bush, while 42.1% voted for John Kerry, and 1.5% of voters either voted for a third-party candidate or wrote in a candidate.[6]

In 2008, the Oregon house seat encompassing the city of Bend switched parties and hosted the only Democratic state legislator from a district east of the Cascades,[7] though the Republicans retook the seat in 2010.[8]



According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 3,055 square miles (7,912.4 km2), of which 3,018 square miles (7,816.6 km2) is land and 37 square miles (95.8 km2) is water. The total area is 1.20% water.

Adjacent counties

National protected areas


Deschutes county grew by 39.4% from 2000 to 2007, making it by far the fastest growing county in Oregon at more than four times the state average.

As of the census[10] of 2000, there were 115,367 people, 45,595 households, and 31,962 families residing in the county. The population density was 38 people per square mile (15/km²). There were 54,583 housing units at an average density of 18 per square mile (7/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 94.85% White, 0.19% Black or African American, 0.83% Native American, 0.74% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 1.36% from other races, and 1.96% from two or more races. 3.73% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 19.4% were of German, 13.2% English, 11.4% Irish and 9.1% American ancestry.

There were 45,595 households out of which 32.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.00% were married couples living together, 8.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.90% were non-families. 22.00% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.70% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.50 and the average family size was 2.91.

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1920 9,622
1930 14,749 53.3%
1940 18,631 26.3%
1950 21,812 17.1%
1960 23,100 5.9%
1970 30,442 31.8%
1980 62,142 104.1%
1990 74,958 20.6%
2000 115,367 53.9%
2010 157,733 36.7%

In the county, the population was spread out with 24.80% under the age of 18, 7.80% from 18 to 24, 28.60% from 25 to 44, 25.70% from 45 to 64, and 13.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 98.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.00 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $41,847, and the median income for a family was $48,403. Males had a median income of $34,070 versus $25,069 for females. The per capita income for the county was $21,767. About 6.30% of families and 9.30% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.40% of those under age 18 and 6.10% of those age 65 or over.


The overall defining landscape of Deschutes County is primarily marked with that of lava flows. Most of the lava found in Deschutes County issued forth from Newberry Volcano located just south of Bend. Because of this, many lava tubes are located within, including the prominent Lava River Cave. As a consequence, the county is the most cave-rich in the state of Oregon,[13] with over 250 known caves in the Deschutes National Forest alone.[14] Other prominent lava flows exist too, especially those related to the Mount Bachelor Volcanic Chain which consists of Mt. Bachelor as well as three smaller shield volcanos, and a series of cinder cones.[15]

Three Sisters mountains visible over a rail bridge crossing the Crooked River north of Terrebonne

Large volcanoes serve as a backdrop to the city of Bend in Deschutes County, ranging from the prominent Three Sisters, Mt. Washington, Mt. Bachelor, Broken Top, Newberry, Tumalo Mountain, Maiden Peak and others. A group of geologists have discovered Smith Rock State Park is part of an ancient supervolcano called the Crooked River caldera with a rim nearly six times the diameter of Newberry Volcano's caldera. This ancient supervolcano has long gone extinct. Its crater rim is barely recognizable as remnants mark portions of Powell Buttes, Gray Butte, and the western front of the Ochoco Mountains at Barnes Butte.[16]

On the eastern side of the county, it is mostly characterized by large buttes of much older volcanic origin. Most of these did not create any proper lava flows, or at least none that are known to exist. Some of the prominent buttes include: Horse Ridge, Pine Mountain, China Hat, and several others on the county border.

Two main types of lava flows are found within the county. The most common are the pāhoehoe flows which have been partially buried by volcanic ash, tephra deposits, and dirt over tens to hundreds of thousands of years. The ʻaʻā flows are fewer, but are much more prominent, with the most notable being associated with Lava Butte and the Lava Cast Forest in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.


View of the Cascades near La Pine, Oregon.

Incorporated cities

Unincorporated communities and CDPs

See also


  1. ^ Bilby, Robert; Hanna, Susan; Huntly, Nancy; et al. (2007-07-08). "Human Population Impacts on Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife" (pdf). Independent Scientific Advisory Board. Retrieved 2008-09-15. 
  2. ^ "Deschutes County". Oregon Blue Book. State of Oregon. Retrieved 2009-04-10. 
  3. ^ Williams, Steve, "The Expansion of Oregon’s Destination Resorts", WorkSource Oregon,, Oregon Employment Department, Salem, Oregon, 29 March 2007.
  4. ^ Retrieved on 4/22/09
  5. ^ retrieved 4/22/09
  6. ^ Retrieved on 4/22/09
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Retrieved on 4/20/09
  10. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  11. ^ Oregon population by county, 1900-90 - accessed 2009-05-02
  12. ^
  13. ^ Oregon High Desert Grotto
  14. ^ Maben, Scott (March 11, 1994 p. A-17). "Guidelines Set to Save C.O. Caves". The Bulletin.,806941&dq=deschutes+cave&hl=en. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  15. ^ U.S. Department of the Interior; U.S. Geological Survey; Scott, William E.; Gardner, Cynthia A. (2009-10-29). Geologic Map of the Mount Bachelor Volcanic Chain and Surrounding Area, Cascade Range, Oregon (Map). 1 : 50,000. Cartography by D. F. Garcia; R. C. Ittner; S.E. Jefferies. 
  16. ^ McClaughry, Jason D.; Ferns, Mark L.;Gordon, Caroline L.;Patridge, Karyn A. (2009). "Field Trip Guide to the Oligocene Crooked River caldera: Central Oregon's Supervolcano, Crook, Deschutes, and Jefferson Counties, Oregon". Oregon Geology 69 (1): 25–44. 

Coordinates: 43°55′N 121°13′W / 43.91°N 121.22°W / 43.91; -121.22

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