beautiful McKenzie River is the stuff of legends. This 90 mile long
tributary of the mighty Willamette has generated many a tall fishing
yarn, as well as spawning the development of the world famous McKenzie
River Drift Boat. A favorite fly fishing spot of Presidents Hoover and
Eisenhower, the McKenzie River Area is a recreational paradise dotted
with charming small towns and unique shops.
For 8000 years prior to exploration by Europeans, this gorgeous area was
home to the Kalapuya and Molalla peoples, who spent their summers in
the high Cascades and their winters in the Willamette Valley. In fact,
much of the river was largely unknown to western explorers until October
1853, when a group of Oregon Trail settlers became lost trying to cross
the Cascades into the Willamette Valley via the Elliot Cutoff. Not long afterward they discovered the river named for an early fur trader, Donald McKenzie.
Thanks to the completion of the Santiam Pass in 1960, today's visitors
will find it easy to explore the awesome majesty of the McKenzie River.
While Highway 126 makes traveling much simpler than it was in pioneer
days, the area remains 96% forested with Douglas fir, western hemlock,
and western red cedar, so visitors enjoy an almost pristine outdoor
experience. Anglers can catch spring Chinook salmon, mountain whitefish,
as well as bull, red side and rainbow trout in the spring fed, icy
waters of the river. Bird watchers will spot dippers, mergansers, bald
eagles, ospreys, spotted owl and various species of water fowl as they
feed on the fish. You'll also find covered bridges, hot springs,
waterfalls and a variety of challenging road and mountain biking
opportunities in the area. Come explore the closest thing to heaven, the beautiful McKenzie River.