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How to Road Trip to McKenzie River Without a Car

Published: May 12, 2021

 

McKenzie River is the ideal destination for fishing, river rafting, hiking or sightseeing. The beautiful McKenzie River gorge has stunning river views, two historic covered bridges, hot springs and old growth forest. Due to a wildfire in late 2020, some stretches show scarring, but new, green life is sprouting! Learn more about the cycles of wildfire and forest regeneration; and please respect private property as residents continue to recover from the fires.

Lane Transit District (LTD) public bus route 91 to McKenzie Bridge operates daily. You can leave in the morning and return in the evening; or rent a cabin or lodge room to enjoy an overnight or two in the mountains.

Catch the bus at the downtown Eugene Station (Bay G) or Springfield's Thurston Station (Bay B) with a morning or mid-afternoon departure, Monday - Friday; and a morning and late afternoon departure on Saturday and Sunday. Return bus trips back to Eugene-Springfield are offered in the mountain communities in the morning, late afternoon and evening, Monday - Friday; and mid-morning and early evening on Saturday and Sunday. 

Please note: If you miss the return bus ride — or if the bus already has its maximum number of bicycles loaded and you have a bike — you will have to spend the night and catch the next day's bus back. Be on time, and be prepared with a back-up plan for an unexpected overnight.

The bus stops in eight McKenzie River communities along the way from Walterville to McKenzie Bridge with the last stop at the McKenzie River Ranger District station. From here there are nearby hiking and mountain biking trailheads, or you can arrange shuttle transportation with an outfitter or lodge. 

  • Walterville - Go horseback riding at Triangle 5 Ranch.
  • Leaburg - Visit Ike's Lakeside Pizza to pose with The Simpsons life-size statues. Leaburg is an excellent area for fishing.
  • Vida - Just passed Goodpasture Covered Bridge, visit the locally-loved Vida Cafe and access Rennie's Landing boat launch.
  • Nimrod
  • Finn Rock
  • Blue River - Blue Sky Market is the popular hub for meeting up with river guides for a fishing or rafting expedition. Nearby is Tokatee Golf Club.
  • McKenzie Bridge - A general store and several lodging places make this is good stop. Access trailheads between here and the ranger station.
  • McKenzie River Ranger Station - Highway 242 connects 21 miles from here.

Please note: The ranger station typically operates limited hours Monday - Friday and is closed on weekends. Due to pandemic protocols, they may be closed. When open, the ranger station has maps, information, drinking water and restrooms.

Bus Travel Tips

  • Plan your excursion carefully, as many McKenzie River destinations may not be easily accessed from the bus stops, and shuttle arrangements with local businesses may need to be coordinated.
  • Pack food and water. While there are excellent restaurants and several markets in the vicinity, your ease of reaching them without a car over longer distances may be challenging. Additionally, river-area stores and restaurants often operate on limited or irregular schedules. 
  • Pack or wear layers as weather conditions may change quickly. Make sure you have rain gear.
  • Make sure you have any needed permits and licenses before you go. The ranger station, or vendors selling licenses, may not be open. Permits may not be available at trailheads. Pre-purchase before heading out.
  • Buses are bike-friendly, so take your mountain bike! But be aware that only a limited number of bikes can be transported on each bus. That means, potentially, there may not be room for you on the return bus, prompting an unplanned overnight.
  • Lane Transit District buses are wheelchair accessible.

Get Inspired By These McKenzie River Adventures

While the following road trips are car-based, you may be able to appreciate these experiences as a sightseer or make arrangements with outfitters for a tour.

Author: Taj Barnhart Morgan

Taj Barnhart Morgan is the Director of Content Strategy for Travel Lane County. A journalism graduate from the University of Oregon, Taj has two decades of special event management and hospitality marketing experience in San Diego, CA and Maui, HI. Passionate about mothering, and back to her Oregon roots, she is discovering the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region all over again through the eyes of her daughter.