The Metolius River: A Gem in Central Oregon

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The Metolius River is a serene, wild and scenic river that flows from the headwaters of the Metolius in Camp Sherman, Oregon and is one of the largest spring-fed rivers in the United States! Metolius Springs bubble up from the ground in deep grass and rock, flowing away north to wind through the land all the way to Lake Billy Chinook.

Where is the Metolius River?

The Metolius River is near the small town of Sisters, Oregon and north from Black Butte. The mountain looms over the Metolius Basin like a guardian. Wildlife comes down from it to enjoy the cold water, abundant foliage and fish. It is not unusual to see a bear fishing, or deer drinking from the river.

The Metolius River is a tributary of the Deschutes River. It runs through the Deschutes National Forest. To the west is the volcano Three Fingered Jack, between Mount Washington and Mount Jefferson. The Metolius River ends by flowing into Lake Billy Chinook, which is also a popular recreation destination.

Along the Metolius River

The water is rich dark blue and flows through burnt-orange old growth Ponderosa pine forests. But in the groves that receive sunlight, Oregon’s magical streams sparkle. They sparkle so clearly, that they rival Crater Lake in brightness and clarity. Various shades of crystal clear blue sapphire water are apparent in the river. When you see a rainbow trout in the Metolius river, it is like seeing a jewel under the current!

Rainbow Trout in the Metolius
Rainbow Trout in the Metolius

Fishing on the Metolius River

The Metolius River is a fly fishing dream. Like most Oregon rivers, there are many species of fish. It boasts rainbow trout, bull trout, brown trout, teeny little brook trout, Kokanee salmon, and other fish, like white fish. You can fish all along the banks of the Metolius, and there is a Forest Service fish hatchery and a huge pond where the kids can feed the fish! The old-growth ponderosa pine and Tamarack make nice shady spots for the fish in the summer. 

Fly fishing on the Metolius river is quiet and relaxing. This is mostly due to the primitive area that the river is located in. You can fish along the Metolius banks all day, as the east and west banks have trails and some access by turnouts.

Other Activities on the Metolius River

Besides fishing, the Metolius offers trails for hiking! There are so many beautiful things to see along the trails. From spectacular springs to the deep blue and beautiful Wizard Falls and beyond, The Metolius river area is one of the most beautiful places in Oregon. The land is virtually untouched, and boats are not allowed on the river to maintain its peacefulness and tranquility. 

Hiking Needs

Make sure you pack your Chacos sandals for this trip! You are going to need comfy feet! You can hike tough trails, and for those that aren’t ready for a huge hike there are also easy day hikes. The Deschutes National Forest boasts many trails to explore, from the weekend walker to the avid thru-hiker. You should definitely make sure you are packing the best shoes for your trip!

Chacos Sandals
Chacos Sandals Thomas Rhett Edition

When you are hiking along the Metolius, the sun can get very hot so it is vital to pack the necessities. My pack is one of the most important items I bring. The Yeti Crossroads 22L Backpack is light and tough, with enough room for your Yeti Rambler water bottle. Hydration is key when you are in the summer heat!

The Yeti Crossroads 22L Backpack
The Yeti Crossroads 22L Backpack
The Yeti Rambler Bottle
The Yeti Rambler Bottle


Wizard Falls at the Metolius Bridge

There is a bridge that goes over the Metolius River where you can see Wizard Falls. Wizard Falls used to be 12 feet tall! When the fish hatchery was constructed in 1948, unfortunately, the spring that fed the falls dried up. So what is left isn’t really falls, but a massive rapid in the center of the river that sprouts up and is crystal blue and sparkles in the sun. You can stand on the bridge and see to the bottom in some places of the river.

Horses and the Metolius


If you are a person who likes to go horse camping, Camp Sherman has many places you can haul your horses up and trail ride all weekend. A very horse friendly place, they have paddocks and shelters for your equine best friend. There is an abundance of fun places to ride around the Metolius. 

You are, however, required to bring tested, weed-free feed to maintain the ecosystem, as is the practice at most horse-friendly, haul-in camping spots. 

Birds and Other Wildlife

Monarch Butterfly at the Metolius

The wildlife is fun to watch, and there is plenty of it! From beautiful various bird species, and squirrels to bears, there is a chance to see just about anything. You will certainly want to make sure you have your bear proof Yeti 45 cooler packed, even if its just to deter a squirrel or two! Read about the advantages of packing a Yeti cooler here!

Nearby areas

If you decide you want to go to civilization, though, it is a short drive to Sisters or you can make the trek to Bend. Camp Sherman boasts the Camp Sherman store, a Mexican restaurant (very delicious!), and a few RV parks and campsites for those who want to stay local. You can also rent a cabin if you want to have a little more creature comforts while visiting the Metolius River. 

Should I visit the Metolius River?

The Metolius River is a wonderful destination for Whitewater Trips, with so much to offer. From the fly fishing professional to someone just wanting to sit and listen to a babbling brook, the Metolius offers something for everyone. It is family-friendly for those with children, peaceful and relaxing. With so much wide open space to explore, you can stay a week and still never see it all!

Also read : Mckenzie River Rafting Report (5/22/22)

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