John Day River Kimberly to Cottonwood Bridge

Rufus, Oregon

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If you're looking for a peaceful place to get away from it all, the John Day River is a perfect choice. Rounded hills covered with sagebrush and juniper create recurring scenes down this sometimes-deep basalt canyon. In places, columnar basalt reaches as high as 2,000 feet above the river. The main stem of the John Day River offers few significant hazards. The main difficulty on this stretch is Clarno Rapid at River Mile 104. Attentive boaters can avoid some Class I and II rapids in addition to islands and rocks. Look for interesting patterns and swirls in the rocky canyon walls. In spring, mushrooms and wildflowers grow form the many cow pies. Wildflowers grace a hillside above the John Day River in the spring. Occasional camping oases of ponderosa pine and cottonwood trees provide shade from the sun, but they are few and far between. Take sunscreen even in cooler weather.

John Day River: Kimberly to Cottonwood Bridge Professional Review and Guide

"If you're looking for a peaceful place to get away from it all, the John Day River is a perfect choice. Rounded hills covered with sagebrush and juniper create recurring scenes down this sometimes-deep basalt canyon. In places, columnar basalt reaches as high as 2,000 feet above the river. The main stem of the John Day River offers few significant hazards. The main difficulty on this stretch is Clarno Rapid at River Mile 104. Attentive boaters can avoid some Class I and II rapids in addition to islands and rocks.

Look for interesting patterns and swirls in the rocky canyon walls. In spring, mushrooms and wildflowers grow form the many cow pies. Wildflowers grace a hillside above the John Day River in the spring. Occasional camping oases of ponderosa pine and cottonwood trees provide shade from the sun, but they are few and far between. Take sunscreen even in cooler weather."

Activity Type: Whitewater Kayaking & Canoeing
Nearby City: Rufus
Distance: 175
Elevation Loss: 1,800 feet
Skill Level: Easy to Moderate
Class: Class I-III
Season: Mid-October through June
Local Contacts: Oregon Bureau of Land Management, 503-952-6001; Oregon River Levels, 503-261-9246
Driving Directions: Directions to John Day River: Kimberly to Cottonwood Bridge

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May 2018