Klamath River, Oregon
Bureau of Land Management, Lakeview District
Oregon Department of Parks & Recreation
September 22, 1994. From the J.C. Boyle Powerhouse to the California-Oregon border. The Klamath River is in Klamath County 25 miles to the southwest of Klamath Falls in south-central Oregon.
Scenic — 11.0 miles; Total — 11.0 miles.
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Klamath River (Oregon)
Wild rapids in Hell's Corner Gorge testify to the Indian name "Klamet," or "swiftness." With a unique rainbow trout subspecies, scores of bald eagles, numerous endangered species, spectacular scenery, wild horses, and cultural and historic sites at every turn, the Klamath provides an outstanding river experience. This southern Oregon river flows through a remote pine and oak forested canyon as it transects the Cascade Range on its way to the Pacific Ocean.
The Klamath River is one of only three rivers that bisect the Cascade Mountain Range, flowing from the high-desert interior through coastal rain forest to the Pacific Ocean. This creates a wide diversity of habitats supporting an abundance of wildlife. Due to an abundance of food and a mild climate, the Klamath River Basin was and is an important location for at least three Native American Tribes. The river was also an attractive location for early European settlement, providing a travel corridor through the mountains. All of these factors combined to create at least seven resources considered to be important to the nation.
Fish — The Klamath River supports a genetically unique population of rainbow trout able to survive the naturally high temperatures and acidity of the river. This trout population thrives to the extent that the Klamath is considered to be one of the finest fisheries in a state known for its fishing. Several endangered species, including Lost River and short-nose suckers, are dependent on the Klamath River.
Wildlife — The diversity of habitats provides for exceptional populations of birds of prey, game and other birds, ringtail cats, river otters, and many other animals. Numerous threatened or endangered species are dependent on the Klamath River for their continued survival. Included in this list are bald and golden eagles, prairie and peregrine falcons, western pond turtles, and Townsend's big-eared bats.
Recreation — Class IV and V rapids provide exciting whitewater boating runs year-round, while abundant wildlife creates excellent fishing and hunting opportunities as well as numerous chances to break out binoculars. Flat, open benches along the river offer plentiful camping sites and easy hikes to view the unique resources of the river. Boaters are asked to fill out a voluntary trip registration before each trip. Registration boxes are located at the main put-in, one-quarter mile downstream of the J.C. Boyle Powerhouse and at the historic Frain Ranch. On the upper segment, there is a three-site, primitive camp located three miles downstream of the put-in. Available for no fee, this camp has picnic tables, fire pits, and vault toilets facilities. It is important to note that egress from the river is limited. Just below the California border, an extremely rugged dirt rough leads to a long shuttle back to Klamath Falls. Depending on private property access, this shuttle may include driving south of Mount Shasta and then north to Klamath Falls. Other take-puts further downstream are easier to access; however, the shuttle is the same.
Prehistory — There are at least 40 prehistoric sites in the canyon, including camps and burial grounds, offering important opportunities to learn about the past. Three, possibly four, Native American Tribes' use of the river has earned it the distinction of being eligible for the National Register of Historic Places as an Archaeological District.
History — Historic ranches along the river offer a glimpse into the challenges facing early settlers. One of few access points to the river is actually part of an historic stagecoach route serving the Klamath Basin and northern California. The livery station serving the stagecoach is still there. And just below the California border, an abandoned log flume speaks to one of the early uses of the river by Europeans.
Scenery — The Bureau of Land Management has given the Klamath River Canyon its highest scenic classification. Unique combinations of landform, water and vegetation create a continually changing landscape as it changes from desert to mountainous. Steep canyons and vertical cliffs, diverse vegetation, and the river combine to create an exceptionally peaceful visit to the river.
Native American Traditional Use — There is considerable evidence that the Klamath River Canyon has been in use by Native Americans for at least 7,000 years, both as a place to make a living and as a location for vision quests, curing ceremonies, and spiritual preparation. Both the Shasta Nation and the Klamath Tribes consider the canyon to be sacred and of immeasurable spiritual significance. Burial sites of both groups add to the spiritual significance and allow spiritual leaders to prepare for religious and medicinal ceremonies or to communicate with the Great Creator. And since spiritual power to these Native Americans is invested in the environment, the presence and preservation of the other outstanding resources is critical.
Under Section 2(a)(ii) designation, the Klamath River remains in local and state management. This provision of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act specifically precludes federal acquisition or management, except for those lands already in the public domain. (However, land exchanges by federal agencies are allowed under Section 2(a)(ii), and purchases under other land management plans can also occur.) In the case of the Klamath, the Bureau of Land Management administers a significant portion of the river corridor.