The Nestucca River originates in the northern Oregon Coast Range and flows for 53 miles to where it meets the Pacific Ocean at Nestucca Bay. This river is largely free flowing, except for McGuire Reservoir, which serves as the primary water supply for the city of McMinnville, Oregon.
The Nestucca River hosts one of the most productive anadromous fisheries in all of Oregon.
Wandering through both private and public lands, the 15.5-mile recreational section of the Nestucca River takes center stage as visitors enjoy the scenic views of the heart of the northern Coast Range from the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Nestucca River Back Country Byway. Whether exploring this river by car, motorcycle, or bicycle, you’ll find a welcoming picnic table or campsite at any of five BLM and Forest Service campgrounds located along the river. The 31 individual campsites located within the Alder Glen, Dovre, and Fan Creek campgrounds and two group campgrounds at Elk Bend and Rocky Bend offer steel fire rings, picnic tables, potable water (seasonal), and restrooms. Also designated as an Oregon State Scenic Waterway, this diverse area offers visitors a wide range of recreational opportunities that include swimming, fishing, sightseeing, motorcycling, and horseback riding.
BLM administrative studies from the 1990s and mid-2000's determined that segments of the Nestucca River were both eligible and suitable for wild and scenic river designation. In 2019, the John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act (Public Law 116-9; Dingell Act) designated a 15.5-mile segment of the river to be managed by the Secretary of the Interior.
March 12, 2019. From its confluence with Ginger Creek downstream until it crosses the western edge of T 4 S, R 7 W, Section 7, Willamette Meridian.
The ecological value of the Nestucca River is highlighted by its mature and old-growth forests, which include high-quality habitat for many species of interest. Those same forests provide clean, cold waters for high fish production.
The Nestucca River ranks as among the highest producers in the region for spring and fall chinook salmon and summer and winter steelhead. Overall fish habitat within the river segment is considered very good, and the river hosts a diverse species assemblage that also includes coho salmon, chum salmon, sea-run and resident cutthroat, lamprey, dace, and sculpins.
The Nestucca River attracts large numbers of local and out-of-region visitors to participate in bank and drift boat sport fishing. The river also hosts excellent opportunities to camp, picnic, observe nature, or simply enjoy the drive along the scenic Nestucca River National Back Country Byway, which parallels the river through much of the designated corridor.
Scenic values associated with the Nestucca River include views of a steep, densely forested Coast Range canyon. In places, a towering 200-foot-tall Douglas fir canopy shelters a multi-age mix of vegetation with an ever-changing palette of colors, forms, and textures. Many of these subtle scenic wonders can be enjoyed while taking a slow drive along the BLM’s Nestucca River Back Country Byway or from a quiet gravel bar alongside the river.
This designated river provides high-quality habitat for bald eagle, northern spotted owl, red tree vole, marbled murrelet, and coastal giant salamander. It remains the only known breeding site for harlequin ducks in the Oregon Coast Range.