The McKenzie River is an awesome Spring run when you have some good weather. There is a lot of river bums that flock to this river in the early season months, rain or shine. I was very glad it was sunny when I went. It was perfect in a full wet suit as is. The water is so clear, and so cold.
The drive took roughly 3 hours. Leaving Medford the night before was the right move for sure. From Eugene, the put in was only about 35 minutes away at Finn Rock. I had researched a few different runs and I felt ready for this one. A great link was McKenzie River Details by BLM which was the easiest map to use that I could find online. The best shuttle information I got from Northwest Rafters Association. I have made great river connections from this site. If you have your own equipment and you are on a budget, this site will help you as it did me. I paid $30 for the first trip and $20 for the additional stretch. There are many neat river stops and stores on Highway 126 for fuel and food.
The biggest rapid on my first run was a 3(-) in early April, and that was Martin Rapids. Directly after that, I bailed out at Helfrich Landing County Park. This was an awesome run, however, I had only been on the water at that point for a little less than 2 hours. The water was moving right along and I oared quite a bit. So, I called the shuttle back up and arranged for another run.
This time I drove up to Paradise and launched. It is by far the better run up there as far as scenic beauty in my opinion. The water is also more technical even at the higher water level I floated. I pulled out at the boat ramp at Forest Glen Landing. It was a great day on the water. I was reminded that this river is excellent for hot summer camping. The temperature at water side stay 20 degrees lower than the road side, and the dense tree canopies at McKenzie River Park would keep you cool even on the hottest day.
I look forward to spending a few nights there this summer with the children. I will also be back for the hot springs, which would have been a perfect end to a day on the river, however, I had to get home to the kiddos!
Mary Jane Feetham