The upper McKenzie River just east of Eugene and Salem is truly one of Oregon’s crown jewels of whitewater rafting. This wild and scenic landscape was born out of the violent volcanic history that for thousands of years shaped the land with fiery lava flows that spewed across the land damming ancient creeks and rivers and forming crystal clear alpine lakes. One of the areas most popular and frequently visited lakes is appropriately named Clear Lake. Clear Lake is the result of an ancient lava flow that cut off and dammed the ancient McKenzie river and is now the headwaters. The lake is famous not only for it’s clarity, but also for the number of trees that still stand frozen in time just below the surface from when the valley was flooded centuries ago. There are rowboats available for rental and you can row out onto the lake and view the trees and explore hidden coves around the lake. Not far downstream from where the river pours out of the lake it falls over a series of dramatic and picturesque waterfalls, Sahalie and Koosah Falls, before bouncing along the rocky river bottom and continuing it’s course downstream toward the Willamette River.
The upper McKenzie River above the town of McKenzie Bridge is considered one of Oregon’s most pure and certainly one of the coldest rivers, but hidden along some of the banks are geothermal vents that create natural hot springs. One of the most popular is Belknap Hot Springs Resort which is located on the banks of the McKenzie River. Hot water from nearby springs is pumped into a large open pool area where for a nominal fee guests can warm up with a hot soak after a fun day of whitewater rafting and exploring on the McKenzie River. There is lodging and RV camping available at the resort and there is more camping nearby right on the river at Paradise and Olalee campgrounds.
HDRO offers a variety of guided rafting trips on the McKenzie River to suit your needs, ranging from relaxing family outings to high-adrenaline whitewater adventures. We provide wet suits, splash jackets, and booties for these trips to help keep you comfortable and having a good time.
Our most popular McKenzie River rafting trip is our Full Day 18 mile whitewater adventure. We meet our guests at the Frissell boat landing east of the town of Mckenzie Bridge on highway 126 and we pull off the river at Forest Glen boat landing downriver near the town of Blue River. We stop about halfway at McKenzie Bridge Campground where you’re treated to a deli style buffet lunch and refreshments before continuing on this Class III whitewater adventure.
Along this stretch of the McKenzie River the views are spectacular as we raft in the shadow of the nearly 11,000 foot peak of Mt. Jefferson as the river snakes it’s way through towering groves of Western red cedar and Douglas fir trees. The whitewater is nearly continuous and nonstop as the river drops from the higher elevation in the narrow upper valley and begins to widen and flaten out as we approach our takeout point. It truly is a trip with something for everyone and the natural beauty will have you gasping from one bend in the river to the next.
Follow this link for more information about our popular McKenzie River Rafting trip, or give us a call at the office and we’ll be happy to assist you in your trip planning. You can also checkout our online reservation system for trip dates and availability.