Siuslaw river


River with fall colors
River with fall colors

One of my favorite rivers for all seasons is the Siuslaw River in western part of Oregon.  The Siuslaw River is nearly 110 miles long.  It drains an area of approximately 773 square miles in the Central Oregon Coast Range.

steep banks in places make for some interesting tree shapes
steep banks in places make for some interesting tree shapes

The river has historically been a spawning ground for Chinook and Coho salmon. And at one time was the only river in Oregon that had a higher return of salmon was the Columbia.  Although the Chinook population is substantial, Coho numbers have declined from an annual average of 209,000 fish between 1889 and 1896 to just over 3,000 fish between 1990 and 1995. Since the early 1990’s the Coho have slowly been increasing in number, but they still have a long ways to go before returning to historic numbers.  The estuary of the river is surrounded by extensive wetlands that are a significant habitat for migratory birds along the coast.  It is one of the very few Western Oregon Rivers where all major forks are undammed.

There are lots of boulders throughout the lower river
There are lots of boulders throughout the lower river

During the summer months the river is a great place to swim and get away from the high heat of the Willamette valley.  Even though the water can be very low there are many deep holes throughout the length of the river that can easily be over 10 feet deep.  Also during the summer there a many crawfish that call the river home that can be easily collected and eaten.  We made a crayfish alfredo one year that was wonderful.  After the first heavy rains of fall the Chinook and Coho will start running up the river to their spawning grounds.  Fishing is currently open for salmon until the middle of November.  But always check online for updates and changes to the season and catch quota.  As you move into winter and spring a very large run of Steelhead will run up the river.  Most of them are hatchery fish that only go up as far as Whittaker creek.

River just below the edge of tidewater
River just below the edge of tidewater

The drive along the river is a beautiful one no matter what time of year you go.  Enjoy the beauty of the coastal valleys and sample some of the fares of the wilderness.

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