The North Umpqua River is well known for its fishing and rafting opportunities. It flows west from the Mount Thielsen Wilderness over boulders, through deep pools and meets its confluence with the South Umpqua River just northwest of Roseburg.
North Umpqua Outfitters owner Sharon Blodgett said winter’s drought conditions are subsiding and snowpack rising at Crater Lake with some late storms. She said she expects a year “as good as last year and last year was great.”
“A lot of people are booking for rafting right now, which is nice,” she said.
There are several dozen miles of world-renowned fly fishing for steelhead within the North Umpqua river system. Fishermen and kayakers also flock to the river throughout the year, while locals find peace and quiet in its deep pools and excitement on tubing trips over rapids during the summer.
Follow their lead at Amacher Park underneath the Winchester Bridge, where droves of tubers and rafters launch their crafts for a full day of floating to River Forks Park. But always wear a life jacket, because a few rapids can be a bit of a surprise.
High up the South Umpqua River, nature has created one of its cooler swimming holes at South Umpqua Falls in the Tiller District of the Umpqua National Forest.
In the Steamboat area of the North Umpqua, a 31-mile stretch of the river is open to fly-fishing only. This area is considered a fly fisherman’s mecca for the summer steelhead entering the Steamboat Creek Drainage.
River users can call the North Umpqua Ranger Station at 541-496-3532 for daily reports on fishing and boating conditions, as well as river levels.
There are numerous boat ramps in Douglas County to serve fishermen on the river, as well as on the many lakes dotting the Umpqua National Forest and Oregon coast.
Spring chinook are also a big draw on the Umpqua River. The salmon enter the main stem from March to June, hold in deep pools from July to August and spawn in September and October. The salmon can weigh as much as 50 pounds.
THE NORTH UMPQUA RIVER
Fishing/rafting interaction potential — Moderate to heavy
August to October
Fishing/rafting interaction potential — Heavy
November to June
Fishing/rafting interaction potential — Light through moderate in May and June
Extremely cold water from November through April.
The North Umpqua River can be accessed at many different points. Most have adequate parking for a number of vehicles. Visitors are asked not to park in developed recreation sites.
Distance from Roseburg to river access sites:
Baker Park 24.2 miles
Smith Springs 26.9
Susan Creek (picnic) 28.2
Wright Creek 34.1
Bogus 3 4.7
Gravel Bin 39.9
Apple Creek 43.1
Dry Creek 47.2
Weeping Rocks 49.8
Boulder Flat 52.4
OTHER BOATING AREAS
Slower-paced boating can be enjoyed on other parts of the North Umpqua River. Access points include Lone Rock Wayside or Colliding Rivers in Glide; Whistler’s Bend Park off Highway 138, 15 miles east of Roseburg; Amacher Park off Highway 99 at Winchester; and Hestnes Landing, four miles west of Winchester.
River enthusiasts of all ages can enjoy the North Umpqua during the summer. Rubber rafts and inner tubes are common sights on hot summer days. The boaters or floaters often end their trip at River Forks Park, five miles west of Roseburg off Garden Valley Road.
Springtime high water on the South Umpqua River above Tiller and on Little River south of Glide also offer exciting rafting and kayaking opportunities for experienced white-water paddlers.
All boaters should wear life jackets, whether casually floating along in inner tubes or crashing their kayaks through pounding white water. Area rivers have tricky waters that are cold and dangerous to navigate, even for good swimmers.
North Umpqua Outfitters specializes in guided trips through the scenic and wild North Umpqua River corridor above Rock Creek, which has class 2, 3 and 4 rapids, although lower Umpqua trips are also available. Group and half-day rates offered. 888-454-9696.
Oregon Ridge & River Excursions offers more mild trips from Idleyld Park west to Roseburg and beyond. Class 1, 2 and 3 rapids only. Family and half-day rates available. Bike tours and rentals also available. 541-496-3333.
Springfield-based Oregon Whitewater Adventures offers trips on the North Umpqua River from Boulder Flat to Gravel Bin and two-day trips generally from Gravel Bin to Susan Creek. Call 800-820-RAFT or the website is www.oregonwhitewater.com.