Hi everyone. My wife and I are planning an early July road trip from Boise to the Oregon Coast. I'd like to also drag my 1967 Keith Steele boat up there and spend a couple days on the McKenzie. Can anyone advise me on:

1.Campgrounds? We will be truck camping. No RV

2. An easy, not-too-technical stretch of the river to float for a day trip?

3. A safe place to leave my boat for a few days while we finish our road trip?

Thanks!

CW

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C.W. I can't answer all your questions as I reside several hundred miles away. However when I attended the McKenzie River Wooden Boat Festival in past years I found a variety of campsites available and enjoyed floating the McKenzie River several times.Here is one that Randy Dersham suggested several years ago: Delta Campground which is at the junction of Hwy 19 and Hwy 126. The USFS has excellent information concerning camping and recreational activities in our national forests. https://www.forestcamping.com/ is the link to the main site, you will need to drill down to find the forests and ranger districts that apply to your needs. In 1976 I worked for the Forest Service in Missoula, MT developing a program called Recreation Opportunity Guide, I believe it or something like it is still operating in some forests.

I always enjoyed driving to the Oregon Coast after I left the Wooden Boat Festival. I headed to Florence, Oregon and found a dispersed campsite. In other words I was cheap and didn't want to pay to camp. Most of the time I only needed a place to park overnight before I went exploring. Oregon also has a variety of state campgrounds that I have enjoyed. My wife and I spent our honeymoon on the Oregon Coast many moons ago! Our favorite campsite was Jessie M. Honeyman State Park, a short distance south from Florence.

I have to go and participate in a Zoom meeting but will be glad to continue to provide some ideas when that is over.

Rick Newman

The float that we enjoyed during the wood boat parade was from

Hello C. W., I have returned to finish my information I passed on. The issue that I hope that passes is the Covid situation. As of tight now Washington state and USFS campgrounds are currently closed.

The float that we did for the wooden boat parade at the Festival was from Finn Rock (a bridge crosses the river so you can get to the put in) to Randy's former residence across from Eagle Rock, a local landmark. The float was easy, no higher than a class 2. There were a couple of splashy rapids that were enjoyable and easily maneuvered. Finn Rock is the main put-in and works well for rafts. To reach this access head to Highway 126 mile 37.9 and turn onto Quartz Creek Road which takes you across the bridge to river left. A good ramp is available on the upstream river left side of the bridge.The take out for that short float is a short distance past Eagle Rock, a large rock on river left.

54.0 (13.4, 0)Finn Rock access on the left shore, just before the bridge for Quartz Creek Rd. Parking might be tight in the afternoon.51.8 (2.2)New Wave rapid, with biggest holes on the far right. About .4 mile below at a right-bank rock outcropping is Clover Point play spot, within sight of Nimrod bridge.

McKenzie River OR McKenzie River OR
Class II rapid below Finn Rock  Kayaks passing near Eagle Rock

51.2 (2.8)Ennis Creek enters on the left, marking the start of class II Eagle Rock rapids. The best ride is down the left. Near the bottom at a right bend is a series of surfing waves on the left.49.8 (4.2)Boat access at Silver Creek landing on the right. At river mile 49, Deer Creek enters on the left.47.9 (6.1)Boat access at Rennie landing on the right.46.6 (7.4)Brown's Hole, a famous thrill ride or boat flipper, on far left, easy to miss if you approach on the right.

McKenzie River OR McKenzie River OR
Brown's Hole with RaftMcKenzie.com 

Marten rapids, AW photo by Thomas O'Keefe

45 (9)Boat access at Ben and Kay Dorris State Park. If you take out here, you miss Marten Rapids.

Hopefully this information will help you sort out this float. A search on the web will lead to other possible floats. David Jensen, a frequent contributor and local resident will be a much better person to assist in finding other floats.

If I can help you out in any other way, send me a private message here on the site and we will get in contact.

Rick Newman

CW,

I live on the McKenzie, 10 miles East of where Keith built your boat.  I had many beers there, and at his later shop just upriver from his first.  I will give you some information that I hope will be of value regarding your questions. CAMPGROUNDS: Paradise is the best, but it is owned by the Forest Service, and presently closed.  McKenzie Bridge is also USFS, and closed.  Continuing downriver, Ben & Kay Dorris is a Lane County park where the landing is open, even though the park is closed.  Also it is officially no overnight camping, but not enforced.  I know that because I walk my dog there each morning, and there is more often than not campers there.  Way down river, near where the McKenzie meets the Willamette is Armitage State Park, and I do not know if it is overnight or not.  Addendum to above.  There is also a real nice USFS overnight campground named Delta (USFS) below Paradise.  For all the USFS campgrounds, call McKenzie Ranger District office for closure info and reservations  By all means make a reservation for these as they are very popular in Summer.  Many great State parks on the coast.  Check closure status and reservation through Oregon State Parks.

STRETCHES TO BOAT:  Many, as Rick said.  From the town of Blue River on to the confluence with the Willamette there are multiple drifts with good landings where you will not encounter Class III or IV rapids.  You can call me, 541 896 3395, and I can give you some specific suggestions after learning whether you will be fishing or not.  Also, the name and number of my shuttle driver.

PLACE TO STORE BOAT:  If I am around here at the time you are passing through, I might have a place where you can store your boat.  That depends on whether I am having contruction going on, and whether I will be away on the Oregon Coast fly fishing Chinook

David.

Thanks David! I appreciate the recent listing of campsites you provided here. I to hope to get out and around this summer, obviously depends on the current situations.

I am interested in fly fishing for Chinook ideas. I would love to visit with you concerning that.

Rick

Rick,

It is possible to catch Chinook (and other salmon) on a fly in Oregon from the North to South coast.  Northern coast rivers/estuaries are Necanicum, Wilson, Trask, Nestucca, and Tillamook Bay.  Some rivers, such as the Nestucca, have a Spring run and Fall run.  Mid-coast rivers include Siletz and Siuslaw.  South Coast has the Umpqua, Rogue, Sixes, Elk, and Chetco rivers.  Jack and John Harrell run a Pacific City guide service that is top notch.  You can see their services at www.pacificcityflyfishing.com.  Both Jack and John guide fly fishing for Chinook, Coho, and steelhead from drift boats.  Capt. John does dory fishing in the ocean for rock fish, ling cod, coho in the Spring to Fall, which includes crabbing!  They clean any fish you keep, cook and clean the crab, and give you ice to transport it home. 

Jack sells flies from his business.  To delve a little deeper, check out any of the many super books by Jay Nicholas.  His Oregon Chinook Flies shows beautiful color plates of flies tied by Chinook anglers.  Jay is about to publish a 2 volume seminal piece on everything Chinook;  look for A Salmon Fisher's Journal.

David

David, thanks for the information. I am familiar with Jay Nicholas's books, flies and writing, I hope to get to the ocean again and do some fishing.

Rick

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