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Posted on: 11/08/2018

River of the Month | The North Umpqua River

A Salmon stronghold and one of the West's recreational treasures, the North Umpqua River pours cold and clear from the crest of the Cascades in southern Oregon. 
River of the Month | The North Umpqua River

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A Salmon stronghold and one of the West's recreational treasures, the North Umpqua River pours cold and clear from the crest of the Cascades in southern Oregon. It courses through a dramatic river canyon of volcanic rock and through ancient forests before meeting the South Umpqua and flowing to the sea. Its 33.8 miles are designed as fly fishing only and support some of the healthiest runs of native salmon and steelhead in the Pacific Northwest.


The unique geology of its headwaters stores and releases large volumes of snowmelt, resulting in cold, emerald green flows year-round. Because of this, it is one the only strongholds for Salmon migration in Oregon, and is increasingly important as rivers up and down the West Coast experience warmer temperature and ecosystem damage to global warming. 


The river is best known for its wild steelhead. Fully half of the rive's steelhead are spawned in the flatbed of Steamboat Creek (Closed to fishing). However it also supports strong populations of native spring Chinook, threatened coastal coho, residents rainbow trout and cutthroat trout. 


The Basins impressive stands of old-growth forest provide habitat for the threatened northern spotted owl, Roosevelt elk, bald eagle, black bear, northern river otter, and many other species.


Home to hallowed fly waters, exciting rapids, and gorgeous moss-draped forests, the North Umpqua's wild and scenic corridor is managed for public enjoyment by the BLM and the Umpqua National Forest. The river is flanked by the spectacular, easy-to-access 79-mile North Umpqua National Recreational Trail. 


With more rapids per mile than other Cascade rivers, the North Umpqua's continuous pool and drop fun is set amidst some of the most spectacular scenery on Oregon. The river offers options for every skill level, from placid, jade-green pools to technical class !V boulder gardens. Outfitters include North Umpqua Outfitters and High Country Expeditions. 

Hike & Bike

The world-class North Umpqua Trail traces 79 miles of the river- on of the longest riverfront trails in the West- drawing hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians. Divided into 11 segments, the trail offers day hikes an multi-day trecks. Waterfalls abound and the Umpqua Hotsprings Trail leads to one of the most popular soaking spots in Oregon.


The North Umpqua is world famous for its 33.8 majestic miles of fly-fishing-only water and hard-fighting steelhead that can occasionally grow to 20 pounds. Whether you fish or not, it's worth visiting the creeks Big Bend Pool, where a caretaker can tell you about the steelhead you'll see. 


From Roseburg, Highway 138 east (North Umpqua Highway) conveniently parallels the river for much of its length, with plentiful trailheads, camping and river access at points along the road. 


Western Rivers Conservancy is protecting a series of river sections within the North Umpqua Wild and Scenic River corridor to preserve crucial habitat and safeguard public access to the river. In 2017,  WRC successfully protected Swiftwater Park, which features a mile-ling reach of coveted fly water, old-growth forest stands and the gateway to the North Umpqua Trail. Upstream, WRC is currently working to conserve two additional miles of river, including mature forests and important trail access that is threatened by logging development. By filling in strategic gaps in protection, they seek to enhance habitat for imperiled fish and wildlife and uphold public access to this legendary river. 




** Information provided by Western River's Conservancy. 

WRC acquires endangered riverlands along our finest waterways to rebuild and conserve wildlife habitat, protect key sources of cold-water and provide public access for all.