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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT

John Day River

The number of river permits available for 2019 trips is not limited, however an online launch permit is required for each boating group. An online launch permit is required year-round and available here to boat all sections of the Mainstem downstream of Spray. Permits to boat upstream of Spray are encouraged and available here and at launch points. Once issued, don't forget to log-in and confirm your permit between 10 and 30 days prior to your trip. Permit fees are non-refundable. NOTICES: THIRTYMILE launch access is OPEN; for updated information, copy and paste this link into your browser: https://www.blm.gov/or/permit/application/thirtymile-info.pdf STARVATION LANE launch access is OPEN, however the ramp is washed out; The River Toilet Dump Stations at Clarno & Cottonwood are CLOSED-please make alternate plans.

Water Flow

The John Day River has no dams to control water flow; therefore flow levels fluctuate widely in relation to snow pack and rainfall. When planning a trip, it is helpful to consider the Long Term Flow Forecast, which is updated regularly, and the historical average flow levels available on the Summary Hydrograph (select the 50% exceedence level).

The difficulty of rapids varies with river flow level. Prior whitewater boating skills are necessary to navigate all sections of the river. The most popular multi-day float trips are

  • Service Creek to Clarno: Class II-III - 48 miles, average trip length = 3 days
  • Clarno to Cottonwood: Class II-IV (Clarno Rapid III-IV) - 70 miles, average trip length = 5 days

Recommended minimum flow levels are

  • Drift boats: 800cfs
  • Inflatable rafts: 500cfs
  • Canoes: 300cfs
  • Inflatable kayaks: 200cfs

Clarno Rapid (III-IV) can be unrunable at low water; scout left, portage on either side, line right. Canoeists floating at levels above 2,500 cfs should have whitewater experience and carry floatation bags.