North Santiam

Gates, Oregon /

Level: Beginner to Intermediate /

Class 2-3

Beautiful Scenery & White Water

Meeting Location
Area Information

The North Santiam River

Oregon’s North Santiam River Country, located approximately an hour east of Salem, abounds with outdoor recreational opportunities. The North Fork is approximately 90 miles long and is broken up on its journey to the Santiam River by the Detroit Lake Dam and its regulating dam; Big Cliff Dam. These dams were completed in 1953 to control flooding downstream and in turn have offered a regulated flow that opens up year round whitewater rafting opportunities on the lower river as well as excellent fishing and camping.

The North Santiam river is lined by beautiful and diverse coniferous forest and abundant wildlife. North Santiam River fishing is great year-round! January through April wild winter Steelhead run and May through August hatchery raised Chinook and summer Steelhead are running. Wild Coho Salmon generally run October to November and Native Rainbow, Cutthroat and Cuttbows can be found year around.

The most exciting and scenic stretch of North Santiam River commonly run is known as the Packsaddle section. This 8 mile section is rated Class 3 with quick-moving water and it offers great action with beautiful scenery to enjoy. In addition to splendid Fall colors, the North Santiam river also affords great wildlife viewing. It’s not uncommon to see osprey fishing the calm pools, bald eagles perched in riverside nests and river mink scurrying about.

Rafting trips on the North Santiam

White water rapids are fun for all ages in the summer and best for kids 12 and up in the fall. Spencer’s Hole, Carnivore and Big Swirly rapids are wicked fun while concluding with Mill City Falls as a highlight finale. Starting high in the Cascade Mountain range the river drains an area on the eastern side of the Willamette Valley. This outdoor space offers fine hiking and biking trails, nature viewing, camping and water sports.

The river is crystal clear, but chilly so wet suits are provided.  Expert guides will make your rafting experience one you will want to repeat.  They load all the equipment necessary and the shuttle to put in is just a short ride.  Check out the trip options and book an adventure you won’t forget!

Be sure to check out historical Jawbone Flats at Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area, or enjoy a picnic in the Elkhorn Valley Area where the river drops 30 feet to a quiet pool. Just 5 minutes from Salmon Falls Park is the trailhead to Henline Falls that afford hikers a breath-taking view of a 125 foot plunge that the river makes. The Jefferson Park Area is filled with alpine lakes, wildflowers and trails that provide dramatic views of Mt. Jefferson. The Breitenbush River is a tributary of the North Santiam River where you’ll find relaxing hot springs and numerous campgrounds.  Reservations are required, but day passes are available at the Conference Center and Mill City offers some great places to eat or taste local wines.