Bureau of Land Management National Park Service US Fish and Wildlife Service US Forest Service

Salmon River, Oregon

Managing Agency:

Bureau of Land Management, Salem District
U.S. Forest Service, Mt. Hood National Forest

Designated Reach:

October 28, 1988. From its headwaters to its confluence with the Sandy River.


Wild — 15.0 miles; Scenic — 4.8 miles; Recreational — 13.7 miles; Total — 33.5 miles.

Salmon River, Oregon

Salmon River (Oregon)

The Salmon River is designated for its entire length, from its headwaters in the snowfields high on Mt. Hood to its confluence with the Sandy River. Only an hour's drive from Portland, this clear river cascades over numerous waterfalls in the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness before reaching its lower forested canyons. The river's proximity to metropolitan Portland, Oregon, makes it easy for people to enjoy the diverse recreational opportunities that the river offers.

The Salmon River drainage incorporates portions of two major physiographic zones—the Cascade Mountain range and the Columbia Basin. As a result, the corridor contains great faunal, floral and topographic diversity, with alpine environments, narrow basalt canyons, and wide floodplains with associated wetlands.

The river's outstandingly remarkable values include its scenery, recreation, fisheries, wildlife, hydrology and botany.

The upper river corridor includes impressive close-up views of Mt. Hood from the upper river area near Timberline Lodge, as well as the scenic diversity of Red Top Meadows and Salmon River Meadows areas. Farther downstream the river flows through a narrow river canyon with basalt cliffs and through a series of six waterfalls in a short three-mile section of the river.

The river and its corridor offer a wide variety of recreational opportunities, including hiking, nordic and alpine skiing, camping and developed recreation sites. Sport fishing is also exceptional at this river, and its reknowned summer steelhead fishery draws anglers from around the state. The lower river also contains the unique Cascade Streamwatch Interpretive Area at the Bureau of Land Management's Wildwood Recreation Site.

The lower Salmon River provides very important and productive anadromous fish spawning and rearing habitat. In addition to summer steelhead, the river also contains winter steelhead, coho salmon, spring Chinook salmon, native cutthrouat trout and native and hatchery rainbow trout.

The corridor of Salmon River contains a wide diversity of wildlife habitat that is important for federally listed threatened and endangered species and big game. Two key species found within the area include Roosevelt elk and greater Sandhill cranes. The small population of greater Sandhill cranes is the northernmost breeding population of this species in Oregon.

The six waterfalls, which range in height from 15 to 75-feet within the three-mile section of segment 2, is unique.

Vegetative Communities
The Red Top/Salmon River Meadows Complex is an area of great ecological diversity and productivity. This complex includes a wide variety of rare and unique plant communities.