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Oregon's Scenic Waterway system includes 22 rivers and one mountain lake, located from the south coast to the northeast corner of the state.
Click the image to download a larger sized version of the state scenic waterway map (5.5 MB PDF)
The Chetco River has its headwaters in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area, eventually flowing into the Pacific Ocean near the city of Brookings, Oregon. The scenic waterway begins at the Steel Bridge within the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and ends at Alfred A. Loeb State Park.
A similar reach of the Chetco River is also a part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. The free-flowing river provides drinking water for the residents of Brookings-Harbor, is home to native fish runs and a variety of other wildlife, and attracts a wide range of recreational users.
A portion of both the North Fork (approx. 14 mi), South Fork (approx. 4 mi) and main stem are all part of the Clackamas River State Scenic Waterway. The designated segments on the mainstem include the stretches from Ollalie Lake Scenic Area to North Fork Reservoir (approx. 49 mi) and River Mill Dam to Carver (approx. 12 mi).
Portions of the river (from Big Springs to Big Cliff on the mainstem and the South Fork) are also designated as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
The Deschutes River, known as the "Riviere aux Chutes," or river of falls, displays nearly 25 million years of history in its steep canyon walls. Originating from Little Lava Lake in the central Cascade Mountains, the Deschutes River flows 252 miles before releasing into the Columbia River.
The Upper Deschutes River runs through two high elevation man made reservoirs before meandering through Ponderosa pine forests and cascading over multiple waterfalls before reaching the City of Bend.
The Middle Deschutes River leaves Bend and runs through Tumalo State Park and rural Deschutes County before cascading over Cline Falls, then meandering through steep canyon walls flowing over Steelhead Falls before slowing releasing into Lake Billy Chinook.
Below Lake Billy Chinook, the combined rivers leave as the Lower Deschutes River flowing 100 miles through steep canyons and supports world class fishing and white water rafting.
Similar stretches of the Deschutes are also included as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
The North Fork (6 miles) and South Fork (5 miles) of the Elk River along with a stretch of the main stem from the confluence of the two forks to the fish hatchery (18 miles) are part of the Scenic Waterway. Similar portions of Elk River are also designated as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
A major tributary to the Snake River, the Grande Ronde starts its journey in the Blue Mountains in Eastern Oregon and traverses 182 miles before reaching the Snake. Along its path the river courses through a wide variety of landscapes and land use, from high elevation forests to the City of La Grande. Past La Grande the river slows down and meanders through rural Union County supporting agriculture and livestock uses. Continuing north, the river joins the Wallowa River, from there the river is classified as a State Scenic Waterway and continues on 81 miles to the Washington State border. This section of river is a recreational gem, offering a remote river experience with an outstanding Steelhead and Trout fishery and white water recreation.
After crossing the border the river traverses through deep remote canyons another 25 miles before releasing into the Snake River. The Grande Ronde River Scenic Waterway starts at the confluence with Wallowa River and ends approximately 43 miles later at the Oregon-Washington border. The same stretch of the Grande Ronde is also designated as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
The Illinois River Scenic Waterway runs from Deer Creek to the confluence with the Rogue River, approximately 46 miles away. A similar portion of the Illinois River, starting slightly upstream at the Siskiyou National Forest boundary is also designated as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
Its 284 mile journey to the Columbia River starts in the Strawberry Mountains in Eastern Oregon. The State designated South Fork of the John Day River enters just upstream of Picture Gorge, a deep canyon cut by the John Day River. Below Picture Gorge, the river enters scenic canyonlands and passes through the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, where it is eventually joined by the State Scenic North Fork John Day River (along with the State Scenic Middle Fork John Day River) near Kimberly, Oregon. From this point, the Lower John Day River flows westerly past the communities of Spray and Twickenham before curving north through scenic canyons to Clarno.
The next 70 miles meander through deep canyons and BLM wilderness areas before reaching Cottonwood Canyon State Park. The last portion of the river flows through the State Park and past the historic McDonald Ferry crossing before reaching Tumwater Falls (the stopping point for all navigation). The last nine miles of river below Tumwater Falls are slow and affected by the pool created by the John Day dam on the Columbia River.
Several stretches of the John Day River are included in the scenic waterway including:
• North Fork from North Fork John Day Wilderness boundary to River Mile 20.2 above Monument (~57 miles)
• South Fork from Post-Paulina Road crossing to Murderers’ Creek Wildlife Area above Dayville (~30 miles)
• Middle Fork from Crawford Creek to confluence with North Fork (~73 miles)
• Main stem from Parrish Creek to Tumwater Falls (~158 miles) Portions of the main stem, North Fork, and South Fork are also part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
The Klamath River originates in Southern Oregon from Upper Klamath Lake (fed by the Wood, Williamson, and Sprague Rivers). From Upper Klamath Lake, the river quickly materializes into Lake Ewauna, which serves as an irrigation hub for the Klamath Valley. Not long after leaving the Lake, the Klamath River hits the first of four dams before crossing into California.
The 11 miles of river before the Oregon-California border, the State designated scenic waterway, offers great recreational opportunities, including white water rafting. The Klamath River from the J.C. Boyle Powerhouse to the California-Oregon border is part of the state scenic waterway. The same section of the Klamath is also part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
Three segments of the main stem of the McKenzie River from Clear Lake to Paradise National Forest Service Campground (totallling approximately 14 miles) are part of the scenic waterway. Additionally, the South Fork from the Three Sisters Wilderness boundary to the main stem, excluding Cougar Reservoir is also designated (~21 miles). Additionally, the mainstem from Clear Creek to Scott Creek, not including Carmen and Trail Bridge Reservoir Dams is included in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
The Metolius River emerges as two springs just north of Black Butte in Central Oregon. This spring fed river traverses through densely forested areas commonly used for recreation and is often heralded for its crystal blue color and scenic beauty. The consistent cold water provides habitat for trout and is notable for its prized fly fishery. The river flows only 29 miles before slowing down to help create Lake Billy Chinook (with inputs from the Deschutes and Crooked Rivers).
The Metolius River from Metolius Springs to Candle Creek is a State Scenic Waterway(~12 miles). A longer segment (from the Deschutes National Forest boundary to Lake Billy Chinook) is also included in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
A 50 mile tributary to the Wallowa River, the Minam drainage starts at Minam Lake in Eagle Cap Wilderness in Northeast Oregon. Much of the Minam River watershed is located in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, and drains steep and remote canyon areas. The Minam joins the Wallowa River just above the Highway 82 crossing, and continues downstream as the Wallowa River.
The entire Minam River from Minam Lake to the confluence with the Wallowa River is a State Scenic Waterway. A similar stretch of the Minam River is also part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
The Molalla River has its headwaters in the Table Rock Wilderness Area in Oregon's Cascade Range in rural Clackamas County, eventually flowing into the Willamette River near Canby. The scenic waterway begins at the confluence of the Table Rock Fork and ends at Glen Avon Bridge, near the city of Molalla, Oregon. This free-flowing river provides drinking water for the cities of Molalla and Canby, is home to native fish runs and a variety of other wildlife, and attracts a wide range of recreational users. A similar stretch was recently designated a Wild and Scenic River.
The Nehalem River Scenic Waterway is located in Clatsop and
Tillamook Counties, and includes all lands within a quarter mile of each
riverbank, beginning at Henry Rierson Spruce Run Campground downstream
and ending at the confluence with Cook Creek near Cougar Valley State
The Nestucca River from McGuire Dam to Blaine (~27 miles) is part of the State Scenic Waterway. A portion of this waterway runs along the Nestucca River National Back Country Byway.
The North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Willamette River from Waldo Lake to River Mile 1.5 near Westfir (~42 miles) is a state scenic waterway. A very similar stretch is also part of the National Wild and Scenic River System.
The first section of the Owyhee State Scenic Waterway begins as the river crosses the Oregon border until it reaches the “Three Forks” area, where the Owyhee and its North and Middle Forks converge. The second section is just downstream of Rome, Oregon and continues on until slack water begins due to Lake Owyhee, a man-made reservoir. This lower section of scenic waterway offers remote and challenging white water adventures and courses through steep and dramatic geology.
A portion of the main stem and South Fork of the Owyhee River are part of the State Scenic Waterway including a stretch from Crooked Creek to Birch Creek and from the Idaho border to Three Forks on the South Fork (26 miles). A portion of the Owyhee is also part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, as is the North Fork.
The Rogue River from Crater Lake National Park to Rogue River National Forest boundary (~44 miles) is a State Scenic Waterway. This same reach of the Upper Rogue River is also a part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
The Rogue River from Applegate River to Lobster Creek (~83 miles) is a State Scenic Waterway. This same reach of the Lower Rogue River is also a part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
The Sandy River from Bull Run to Dabney State Recreation Area is part of the State Scenic Waterway (~13 miles). A reach of the Sandy River is also part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
An approximately 9 mile reach of the Little North Fork of the North
Santiam River from Battle Ax Creek to River Mile 16.7 at the Willamette
National Forest boundary is part of the State Scenic Waterway.
Two reaches of the North Umpqua River are part of the scenic waterway, including:
A three mile reach of Walker Creek from its source to the confluence with the Nestucca River is part of the State Scenic Waterway. Walker Creek is a tributary of the Upper Nestucca River. Walker Creek is also part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers program.
Emerging from Glacier Lake in the high altitudes of the granite covered Wallowa Mountains, the river drops 4,000 feet in 12 miles before releasing into Wallowa Lake. From there, the river slices through rural and pastoral Wallowa County flanked by mountains on either side as it continues on to meander through the communities of Joseph, Enterprise, and Wallowa. At the crossing of Highway 82, the Wallowa River is joined by the Minam River, and from there the Wallowa River continues on another nine miles before it joins the Grande Ronde River.
The Wallowa River from the confluence with the Minam River (in Minam) to its confluence with the Grande Ronde River (~10 miles) is part of the Scenic Waterway. The same reach of the Wallowa is also part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
Waldo Lake, the only lake currently in the State Scenic Waterway program, is approximately 6,672 acres. Known for being one of the three purest bodies of water in the world, on a clear day you can see to depths of 100 feet! The lake is located approximately 13 miles north of Oregon Highway 58.
Scenic Waterway Notifications
Scenic Waterway Rules
Potential (Study) Scenic Waterways
For specific information on scenic waterways (including notification for development activities) contact the specialists listed on the
scenic waterway notification page.
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