From Eugene - Springfield, drive scenic Highway 126 east toward the Hoodoo Ski Resort and discover a half dozen charming riverfront communities tucked in along the McKenzie River.
Branch off onto Highway 242 toward the McKenzie Pass to tour amazing lava fields and visit the Dee Wright Observatory. This winding mountain road is closed during the winter months and in the spring, before it opens to motor traffic, bicyclists and hikers have exclusive access.
Camp or stay in fishing lodges, cabins and bed and breakfasts overlooking the McKenzie River. This famous river is named for Scottish explorer Donald Mackenzie, nicknamed "Perpetual Motion," who enthusiastically traversed this watershed in the early 1800s.
Today, whitewater adventurers, anglers, hikers and mountain bikers alike adore the stunning beauty of the McKenzie River. Embark on an outdoor adventure with a fishing, kayaking or rafting guide. Hike the famous McKenzie River National Recreation Trail, which wanders 26.5 miles (43 km) through old-growth forest, past captivating waterfalls and relaxing hot springs. During the summer drive the scenic Aufderheide Highway that connects to the mountain biking community of Oakridge.
Embark on a GeoTour along the McKenzie River! A real life treasure hunt for hidden geocaches using your GPS. Redeem the official Eugene, Cascades & Coast McKenzie River GeoTour passport for a collectible geocoin (while supplies last).
Another facet of the McKenzie River is the number of artists that choose to live here. Galleries featuring pottery, stained glass and textiles invite leisurely browsing and shopping. Shop for amazing, one-of-a-kind treasures.
There is a lot to see and do along the way!
The drift boat is the centerpiece of recreation for the riverfront Cascades communities. In the 1920s Prince Helfrich and Leroy Pruitt crafted the famous McKenzie River Drift Boat. They refined an open-water dory for improved maneuvering in river rapids, launching a design that is still used today.
The McKenzie River Drift Boat is recognizable by its wide, flat bottom, flared sides, flat bow and pointed stern. The rower faces downstream. An example of the boat is displayed in the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Adventure Center in Springfield. Another excellent source of information on the McKenzie River Drift Boat is Roger Fletcher's Drift Boats & River Dories: Their History, Design, Construction and Use.
For that authentic Northwest boating experience, several river guides offer fishing excursions using the McKenzie River Drift Boat.
Oregon law requires each person in a boat to have a life jacket and all children 12 and younger are required to wear a life jacket at all times when on the water.
Experienced river folks know life jackets save lives -- but don't work unless you wear them -- and that applies to good swimmers, non-swimmers, expert river guides and first time rafters alike.
The McKenzie Fire and Rescue and the McKenzie River Guides Association founded a free Life Jacket Lending Program in 2000. Nine locations along the McKenzie River loan out life jackets in a variety of sizes to all who need them. For participating locations and more information call 541.746.6312.