John Day River Service Creek to Clarno

Clarno, Oregon

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This stretch of the John Day is a favorite for open canoers, drift boaters, and beginning kayakers who want a fine desert wilderness experience. Although a number of ranches and cultivated fields are located at several places along the river, other sections are uninhabited and cut off from civilization by the towering walls of the canyon. Below the put-in at Service Creek, boaters have several easy class 1 rapids and riffles as they feel themselves slipping away from civilization. The sculpture of nature in the twisted basalt canyons presents forms never before imagined. The most beautiful stretch has been designated a scenic river. The other stretches have seen ever-increasing pressures of humanity’s relentless efforts to cultivate any land that has water available. Thus the many irrigation pumps flooding alfalfa fields leave boaters with the uneasy feeling that the river may be pumped dry before they reach the take-out. Campsites are quite plentiful, often with sandy beaches at water level and juniper trees higher up. No campsites are found near the ranching area of Twickenham or along the last 8 miles to Clarno. The trip is normally done with two or three nights of camping on the river.
Soggy Sneakers: A Paddler's Guide to Oregon's Rivers

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Soggy Sneakers: A Paddler's Guide to Oregon's Rivers

by Pete Giordano & the Willamette Kayak and Canoe Club (The Mountaineers Books)

This stretch of the John Day is a favorite for open canoers, drift boaters, and beginning kayakers who want a fine desert wilderness experience. Although a number of ranches and cultivated fields are located at several places along the river, other sections are uninhabited and cut off from civilization by the towering walls of the canyon. Below the put-in at Service Creek, boaters have several easy class 1 rapids and riffles as they feel themselves slipping away from civilization. The sculpture of nature in the twisted basalt canyons presents forms never before imagined. The most beautiful stretch has been designated a scenic river. The other stretches have seen ever-increasing pressures of humanity’s relentless efforts to cultivate any land that has water available. Thus the many irrigation pumps flooding alfalfa fields leave boaters with the uneasy feeling that the river may be pumped dry before they reach the take-out.

Campsites are quite plentiful, often with sandy beaches at water level and juniper trees higher up. No campsites are found near the ranching area of Twickenham or along the last 8 miles to Clarno. The trip is normally done with two or three nights of camping on the river.

©  Pete Giordano & the Willamette Kayak and Canoe Club/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing
Nearby City: Clarno
Distance: 47
Class: Class I-II
Season: Best during snowmelt season; Flow: 1200–6000 cfs
Driving Directions: Directions to John Day River: Service Creek to Clarno

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May 2018