OWSR No. 47: KLamath River

Rafting on the Upper Klamath River

Rafting on the Upper Klamath River in Oregon | Photo: Indigo Creek Outfitters

Quick Facts

  • Managing Agency: Lakeview District (BLM) and Oregon Department of Parks & Recreation
  • Designated Stretch: From the J.C. Boyle Powerhouse to the California-Oregon border
  • Designation Length: 11 miles (11 miles Recreational)
  • Outstanding Remarkable Values: Fisheries, Historic Sites, Native American Traditional Use, Recreational Activities, Scenic Quality, and Wildlife
  • Wild and Scenic River Designation: September 22, 1994

More Information

Celebrated by Ellie Friedmann and Sebastian Munoz on May 26, 2019 by paddling the Upper Klamath River.


Ellie Friedmann: We were suprised in late May to put in with snow on the ground, a bonus winter wonderland on the drive up. But the morning was sunny and beautiful while Sebastian Munoz, a guide for Indigo Creek Outfitters, and I set up to R2 the run. Along with another boat on an Indigo Creek trip we put in just below the J.C. Boyle Powerhouse. The stretch starts as a mellow Class II-III run for the first few miles until Caldera which you can scout on river left. After Caldera comes a stretch of over 30 Class III-IV+ rapids in the next few miles with exciting names like Satan's Gate, Dragon's Tooth, and Hells Corner. Many are on the technical side with a few big holes back to back to back. While on the run we saw many different species of birds including two giant pelicans. Herons, bald eagles, and tanagers were also common throughout the trip. By the end of the trip the river mellows out once more as we cross into California. Thanks to Indigo Creek, we had an amazing time on some fun and technical whitewater on a uniquely designated Wild and Scenic River.

Importantly for this stretch, four dams along the Klamath river are subject for removal in 2021 includeing the J.C. Boyle Powerhouse. Proposed by the Klamath River Renewal Corp (KRRC), removal shoud open migratory routes back up to endangered salmon and steelhead. According to the California State Water Resources Control Board, it will also improve air quality and water quality in the long term. Besides the improved fishing prospects, dam removal opens up potential new stretches for recreational boaters as well. Finally, because water release is controlled by the BLM out of the Upper Klamath Lake in Oregon, it will not have any direct affect on river flows or irrigation for agriculture that depends on Klamath river water. While cleared for the most part in Oregon, there are still a few more steps in Calfornia before the dams are clear to be removed.

Learn about Oregon Wild and Scenic River No. 48: The Next One! >>


Northwest Rafting Company Exploratory Division