A shallow river flows over rocks in the South Fork Eel Wild and Scenic River.  Photo by Bob Wick, BLM.


The Eel River makes up the state’s third-largest watershed and flows through rugged interior mountains and fog-shrouded coastal rain-forest. The river supports one of California’s largest wild salmon and steelhead runs as well as its largest remaining old-growth redwood forests.

The BLM manages Dos Rios, the popular put-in place for rafters and kayakers making the four-day run through the famous Eel River canyon to Alderpoint. The South Fork is a remote Class IV run through the Elkhorn Ridge Wilderness Area.

The Eel River has received both state (1972) and federal (1981) wild and scenic river designation.

Outstandingly Remarkable Values

Fish. Person in canoe.


The primary fish of interest for the Eel include steelhead, Chinook salmon, coho salmon and sea-run cutthroat trout. In normal years, Chinook begin arriving in August and remain in the lower river until rains allow them upstream. The run continues through December, with the peak in late October.

The Eel River water, fish and ecosystem have faced development challenges, and sections of the river are closed to fishing to protect the juvenile steelhead.


Dos Rios, located at the confluence of the Middle Fork of the Eel River and the mainstem, is the put-in for a popular four-day trip through the Eel River Canyon to Alderpoint. A number of trails access the river, and the highest public use is by summer swimmers downstream near the Eel River Work Center and Eel River Campground.

California Wild & Scenic Rivers


BLM - 32 miles
Total - 398 miles

Wild, Scenic, Recreational

Date of Designation:
January 19, 1981

Designating Legislation:
Secretarial Order

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Contact Us

Bureau of Land Management
Arcata Field Office
1695 Heindon Road
Arcata, CA 95521-4573

Phone: 707-825-2300

Email: BLM_CA_Web_AR@blm.gov

Flickr Album

Eel Wild and Scenic River