Situated under groves of massive ponderosa pines, with crisp and dry Central Oregon air, 11 incredibly relaxing campgrounds are situated on the upper portion of the Wild + Scenic Metolius River, one of Oregon's most renowned angling rivers for kokanee* and trout, and appropriately one of the regions most popular summer recreation spots.
The Metolius River pops out of nowhere... at least apparently. Unlike most glacially fed rivers in the region, the river's headwaters emerge from Metolius Springs near Black Butte's northern base. The Metolius is thus one of the largest spring-fed rivers in the United States. Interestingly, about 4 million years ago the crest of the previous generation of Cascade Mountains sank thousands of feet, forming a giant depression. Since then, constant volcanic activity has given rise to the current generation of peaks such as Mount Washington, Three Fingered Jack and Mount Jefferson. The lava formations from more recent volcanic activity have nearly filled this once giant depression. Green Ridge still stands as the eastern fault line to the depression, and the Metolius River flows down the valley created by this fault line. Black Butte, now a long-extinct volcano, arose right on top of this eastern fault, burying the Metolius River. Although the river appears out of nowhere, the rest of its drainage basin is simply on the other south side of the butte some 300 feet higher in elevation. Black Butte effectively created a sprawling dam, hence the numerous swampy meadows on the butte's south side, such as those around Black Butte Ranch.
From north to south, campgrounds include:
* Kokanee are actually sockeye salmon that have become landlocked by downstream dams.