The head waters of the North Santiam River are located high on the beautiful west side of the Cascade Range in the Willamette National Forest. The North Santiam River drainage covers around 766 square miles and drains both Mount Jefferson and the Three Fingered Jack area. The North Santiam River is a tributary of the Santiam River and is located on the eastern side of the Willamette Valley in Western Oregon just outside of Salem, Oregon. The river is approximately 90 miles long and is broken up on its journey to the Santiam River by Detroit Lake Dam and its regulating dam, Big Cliff Dam. These dams were completed in 1953,and they were put in place on the North Santiam River to control flooding down stream. The introduction of these dams on the river system have offered a regulated flow, opening up year round whitewater rafting adventure on the lower river as well as excellent fishing and camping. Just below the Big Cliff Dam starts a 12 mile stretch on the lower river that flows through the forested canyon past the small logging towns of Gates, Mill City, Lyons and Mehama before emerging through the foothills near Stayton. The river is lined by beautiful and diverse coniferous forest and abundant wildlife. There is never a bad time to fish on the North Santiam River. January through April wild winter Steelhead run, and May through August hatchery raised Chinook and summer Steelhead are running. Wild Coho Salmon generally run October to November. Native Rainbow and Cutthroat, as well as a Cutthroat-Rainbow Hybrid known as Cuttbows, can be found year round.
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