The John Day River is a popular place to go white water rafting. The lower section of the John Day starts its steelhead run around the end of September and runs through February. The river is mostly steady, with riffles and some rapids, and moves quickly enough to be enjoyable for beginners. While a float trip isn’t as remote as the Grand Canyon, it is still among the best in North America.
Located in southern Oregon, the John Day River receives its water from tributary creeks in the Malheur National Forest. The river flows northeast and eventually bends west near McDonald Ferry. The John Day River flows through the city of Roseburg and through the Strawberry Mountain Range. The flow of the river can be viewed from the road and by boarding a shuttle boat. There are several boat rental agencies in the region.
The main fork of the John Day River is 284 miles long and largely undammed along its length. It is the third longest river in the contiguous United States. The water from the John Day is used extensively for irrigation. Wild salmon and steelhead run in the river are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. The Chinook salmon population is on the verge of becoming extinct, but the main fork continues to be a popular spot for rafting, and swimming.
The John Day River flows through two gorges and a narrow lake. The mouth of the Middle Fork is surrounded by the Blue Mountains and is about 16 miles east of Biggs. The south fork begins about 10 miles south of McDonald Ferry and passes through a picturesque canyon in northern Harney County. This scenic river also forms a natural boundary between Grant and Gilliam counties.
The John Day River flows through the Malheur National Forest and is the third longest free-flowing river in the contiguous United States. Although the water is widely used, it still provides valuable habitat for salmon and steelhead. The salmon runs are protected under federal and state laws, and their populations are under the watchful eye of the public. The rivers are a great place to take a stroll.
The John Day River flows into the Columbia River basin near McDonald Ferry, a town of about 2,500 people. It is the third-largest free-flowing river in the contiguous United States and has no dams along its length. The Columbia River at McDonald Ferry is at an elevation of 274 feet. The average discharge of the river at LePage Park is 50-60 cubic feet per second during the summer. It has a low-flowing capacity, but reaches up to 10,000 cubic feet per second during spring and fall.