Motors Allowed?
Easy / Class A
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Blue River is a beautiful, clear tributary to the McKenzie River that starts high up in the Cascade foothills and terminates near the town of Blue River, Oregon.  On the way the river is harnessed into a gigantic reservoir formed in 1968 when the Army Corps of Engineers installed Blue Lake Dam and Saddle Dam.  When full, this reservoir has a surface area of nearly 1,400 acres, so there is plenty of space to accommodate different recreations. Keep in mind, though, that the reservoir level is kept too low for most water activity from late summer to the spring melt.

The reservoir has two boat ramps, Saddle Dam and Lookout, and two official campgrounds, Mona and Lookout.  The forest roads that wind around portions of the shore also offer some backcountry camping, though heavy use by unsanitary campers can make these options somewhat of a crapshoot. If you can find a workable spot, this can be an excellent choice if you are using a personal watercraft that can easily launch from the shore.

Fishing, waterskiing, canoeing, kayaking, and stand-up paddling are commonplace on the water, as are the simple pleasures of cliff jumping and rope swinging. The reservoir has a native population of cutthroat trout and is stocked with rainbow trout. The water temperatures in the reservoir stay relatively chilly, cold enough to cut through mid-summer heat or reinvigorate your soul after a ride or hike on the area trails.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

General Day Use Fee


Close to Eugene. Two boat ramps. Camping. Large reservoir.


Cold water. Less scenic at lower water levels.

Water Temperature

32.00 °F (0.00 °C)


Campgrounds + Campsites
Backcountry camping
Picnic tables

Typically multi-day


Shuttle required


Site characteristics: Water


Portage required



Nearby Lodging + Camping


Any info on how to reserve at Blue River?

Drove up to explore Blue River Lake with my kayak only to find out that there was not any water to play in. If there was, there was very little and at least 100 yards from shore. October is definitely not a time of year for this lake. We went to Cougar Reservoir instead. It was great!
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