John Day River, North Fork North Fork Campground to Monument

Pendleton, Oregon

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The North Fork John Day River drops from forested foothills of the Blue Mountains to the high desert plateau of central Oregon. The transition is dramatic beyond a river confine where basalt walls squeeze the river to a narrow passage. The canyon widens to farm and grazing land. Lodgepole and ponderosa pines thin toward the river's confluence with the main John Day River. Grasses, sagebrush, and juniper thrive here, specked by cow pies. The area is desolate, with small, widely separated farming and ranching communities. The North Fork John Day is a designated Wild and Scenic River above Dale, but few paddlers explore this rough water through an old placer mining area. Consider upper river runs to be exploratory, since they have not been run recently by anyone that I could find. Advanced paddlers only on the upper reaches! The lower river is easy and enjoyable for advanced beginning paddlers, and a good place for beginning whitewater rafters.
Paddling Oregon

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Paddling Oregon

by Robb Keller (Falcon Guides)

The North Fork John Day River drops from forested foothills of the Blue Mountains to the high desert plateau of central Oregon. The transition is dramatic beyond a river confine where basalt walls squeeze the river to a narrow passage. The canyon widens to farm and grazing land. Lodgepole and ponderosa pines thin toward the river's confluence with the main John Day River. Grasses, sagebrush, and juniper thrive here, specked by cow pies. The area is desolate, with small, widely separated farming and ranching communities.

The North Fork John Day is a designated Wild and Scenic River above Dale, but few paddlers explore this rough water through an old placer mining area. Consider upper river runs to be exploratory, since they have not been run recently by anyone that I could find. Advanced paddlers only on the upper reaches! The lower river is easy and enjoyable for advanced beginning paddlers, and a good place for beginning whitewater rafters.

©  Robb Keller/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing
Nearby City: Pendleton
Distance: 100
Elevation Loss: 3,300 feet
Skill Level: Moderate to Difficult
Class: Class III
Season: Mid-March through mid-June
Local Contacts: Oregon Bureau of Land Management, 503-952-6001; Oregon River Levels, 503-261-9246
Driving Directions: Directions to John Day River, North Fork: North Fork Campground to Monument

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May 2018