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McKenzie River Communities

Published: June 05, 2019


McKenzie River is comprised of eight small towns spread out every six to ten miles (10 - 16 km) along the old stage coach route. Watch for the town signs or you might drive right past! Many of the residents here have grown up on the McKenzie River and are passionate guides, anglers and historians. McKenzie River's beauty and solitude has further attracted artists, naturalists and outdoor enthusiasts. If you can, stop for a meal at a tiny café or pop into a store for supplies. Engaging with the locals is sure to enrich your appreciation of the area's rich history and deepen your connection to its many exquisite places and experiences.

Cedar Flat

Milepost 10.5

Just outside Springfield, Cedar Flat originated as a stage coach stop. Today it is a tiny community of tree farms and agriculture. Passing through there is a market and an auto repair shop.


LTD Bus Rout 91

Walterville offers a restaurant and feed and tackle store. The annual Walterville Community Fair is held here in September. Walterville is also part of Eugene's hydropower system, home to the 70-acre (28 ha) Walterville Pond. Triangle 5 Ranch offers horseback rides on woodsy trails and past historic farm buildings. The Walterville post office was established in 1875. Halfway between Walterville and Leaburg is McKenzie River Lavender Farm which offers seasonal access for lavender artisan produces during its annual festival.


LTD Bus Rout 91

A picturesque destination for fishing, the Goodpasture Covered Bridge spans the McKenzie River at the east end of town. There is a public boat launch on Greenwood Drive, and the Leaburg Dam is an excellent spot to observe salmon and steelhead climbing a fish ladder. Bring your camera along with your fishing rod! There are several fish hatcheries in the vicinity and a golf course. Leaburg also offers a library, community center with a gym, veterinarian, auto shop, fire station and a country store with groceries and gas. You'll find some eateries including Ike's Lakeside Pizza, which is now home to a life-sized Simpsons' family statues. (Another photo opportunity!)


Milepost 26.9

LTD Bus Rout 91

Wonder where the popular UO campus-area bar "Rennie's Landing" name came from? It's a boat launch in Vida! Also here is Ben & Kay Dorris Park which includes the famous Marten Rapids stretch of the McKenzie River. The community offers a gas station, café and fire station. There are several lodges, vacation rentals and cabins. Vida was established in 1868, and named for the first postmaster's daughter.


LTD Bus Rout 91

Nimrod's name gets a lot of attention (and the town has had to bolt its sign down) as a modern day synonym for "fool," but some believe its name is actually in reference to a biblical figure known for his hunting prowess. A ferry crossing was once established here. In 1938, Nimrod hosted the first white water parade, an event that attracted thousands and peaked with 300 boats covering 20 miles (32 km) until it was shut down in 1970 due to reckless boating. Today the annual Wooden Boat Festival is re-created on a modified scale from Eagle Rock Lodge. Eagle Rock itself is a huge boulder on the south side of the river. There are several bed and breakfasts here and a fire station.

Blue River

Milepost 41.3

LTD Bus Rout 91

A former 1863 gold mining town, Blue River is nestled on the banks of Blue River which flows into the McKenzie River. The McKenzie Community Track & Field hosts track meets and the annual Arts Festival. The town offers an art gallery, library, liquor shop, auto shop, medical clinic, fire station and boat landing. The H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest is nearby. Cougar Reservoir, and adjacent Terwilliger Hot Springs, are popular for water recreation. Turn onto the Aufderheide here, a national scenic byway that connects the McKenzie River area with Oakridge-Westfir. (The Aufderheide is a seasonal road, not maintained in the winter.)


Milepost 47.1

Rainbow was once an important stage stop for travelers and offered ferry service. Later a series of bridges crossed the McKenzie River here. The current Belknap Covered Bridge, built in 1966, still accommodates cars. Hike to Castle Rock, a former fire lookout with amazing valley views. Or play golf at Tokatee Golf Club with views of the Three Sisters Mountains from the greens. The United States Basketball Academy is here - a great spot for groups. And the town also includes the Blue Sky Market.

McKenzie Bridge

Milepost 51.1

LTD Bus Rout 91

Lane Transit District's bus will take you this far from Eugene, right to the McKenzie River Ranger Station. McKenzie Bridge has the McKenzie General Store, lodges and cabin resorts and a fire station. Belknap Hot Springs Resort & Camp Yale, a camper's paradise of gardens, hot spring pools, riverfront campsites, cabins and the main lodge is in the vicinity. From here, branch off to Highway 242 during the summer season for an amazing drive through lava fields to the Dee Wright Observatory. (Hwy 242 is closed to vehicle traffic in the winter months.)

Beyond the Communities

On the way to Sisters and Bend there are many campgrounds, hiking trails, waterfalls and lakes - but no services. It is always a good idea to travel with a full tank of gas, extra food, water, warm blankets and a first aid kit. Check road conditions before departing.

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.