6 Must-See Spots and Best Parts of The McKenzie River in Oregon

The McKenzie River is a 90-mile tributary of the Willamette River in western Oregon. Growing up in Springfield, I spent a lot of my childhood doing endless adventures up here. It drains part of the Cascade Range east of Eugene and flows westward into the southernmost end of the Willamette Valley. It is named for Donald Mackenzie, a Scottish Canadian fur trader who explored parts of the Pacific Northwest for the Pacific Fur Company in the early 19th century. In the 21st century, there are six large dams on the McKenzie and its tributaries.

Oregonians love to play and we love to play hard. We want new places to go, to see, to eat and to drink. The McKenzie River Valley is one of Oregon’s finest playgrounds but if you haven’t visited in a while, you probably don’t know half of what’s going on up here. Whether you are fishing, hiking, cycling, or just want to have a place to vacation for the weekend, the McKenzie River in Oregon has a little something for everyone.

To Sleep

There are some really cool lodges and resorts up and down the river that our writers had never heard about. Chances are you haven’t either. Let’s take you on a little tour.

McKenzie Station Pub/Inn at the Bridge


Inn at the Bridge is one of the nicest spots on the McKenzie River to stay. When you see cabins in the video you will see what we’re saying.

This is a really cool spot. You rent the whole house complete with kitchen, fireplace and a screened in porch that faces the river.

For the best espresso the mountain has to offer you don’t want to miss McKenzie Station Pub. They offer a full menu, great food, full bar and local beer and wine. Located right across the street from the general store McKenzie Bridge is quickly becoming the center of activity on the upper river.

Wayfarer Resort

resorts and lodges
resorts and lodges

The Wayfarer Resort is not the newest resort on the river but it is definitely one of the most hidden jewels on the entire rive system.

McKenzie River Mountain Resort


If it’s history that makes you sleep peacefully then the former Blue River Ranger station needs to be on your list. The owners purchased the place a few years ago and now it’s one of the hotspots on the river.

The McKenzie General Store

visit mckenzie river

If you want fresh food, a place to hang out with friends and good beer you won’t believe what the owners of the McKenzie General Store have done to spruce the place up. Oh and they aren’t done yet. The next plan is to transform a huge barn that will soon be either a brew pub or the store.

Crescent Moon Café


Down river near Nimrod is a new restaurant with fine food, wine and beer called the Crescent Moon Café. The owners also have rooms available but the food at the café is so great and “Bert” the owner is all about service. You won’t find another place to eat like this right on the banks of the river.

Adventures and sightseeing

High Country Expeditions: The Ride Of Your Life



To take in the wild and scenic section of the McKenzie River you need the guides at High Country Expeditions. These folks understand the river and will give you a tour and a ride you will not soon forget.

Cyclists, this is your Heaven

For mountain bikers and road cyclist the McKenzie River is quickly becoming the place to play. A few years ago we took one of the rides cyclists wait all year for. Highway 242 goes from the McKenzie Highway to Sisters, Oregon and early in the year, before the highway is opened to traffic, cyclists get it all to themselves.

A nice easy hike to cool off on a hot day

Don Whitaker / Flickr


Sahalie Falls is the first and tallest of three major waterfalls along the McKenzie River. This sheer plunge of 73 feet is broken into two segments when the river is running at its highest volume but is more commonly a single powerful plunge. Sahalie is by far the most famous of the large waterfalls along the McKenzie, as illustrated in the falls being used in the Disney movie “Homeward Bound”.

Even though the McKenzie River originates in Clear Lake, just a few miles upstream, the river sustains a very significant volume all year long thanks to the large drainage area to the northeast which consists largely of plains of lava flows. Water doesn’t linger on the surface and seeps underground, forming one of the larger aquifers in Oregon, then it all emerges in springs around Clear Lake. The result is one of the most consistent rivers in the northwest. There is another waterfall of about 10 feet in height a short distance upstream. [Source]


McKenzie River Reflections: News about The Views

If you want to stay up on what’s happening on the entire stretch of the McKenzie River the guy you will meet in this next video can fill you with everything from changes to the river to plans for opening dams and fishing regulations. You can find him online or get the paper delivered in the mail each week.

Want to Buy a Piece of Mckenzie River Heaven?

Once people experience the McKenzie River many want to make this their second home. If you need someone to walk you through the hoops of buying rural, river property Nadine Scott is the woman to see.

Sunset Lodgingl


  1. This is where I lived when I was in high school. Most of these places are newer and most of them are farther upriver than I lived. The Crescent Moon Cafe is just down the road from my house. When I was there, there was a little convenience store and a ranger station where I used to babysit for the ranger and his wife when they went square-dancing on the weekends! My sister still lives in our family home just west of this. I have some magnificent photos of Sahalie Falls. The McKenzie River is a truly beautiful place.