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Building Strong® at John Day Lock and Dam

John Day Lock and DamJohn Day Lock and Dam Project is 216 miles upriver from the mouth of the Columbia River near the city of Rufus, Ore.

Construction of John Day Lock and Dam was completed in 1971. The authorized primary project purposes are navigation and power generation.

 The project consists of a navigation lock, spillway, powerhouse and fish passage facilities. Various recreational facilities are provided along Lake Umatilla and the John Day River.

 

For information about the December 2016-March 2017 extended navigation lock outage at the Corps' Columbia and Snake rivers, visit the FY17 lock outage web page.

 

Rules, policies and related information

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National Recreation Reservation Service logo

Search for and reserve available campsites at Recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777.

Campsites can be reserved up to 240 days in advance and group facilities up to 360 days in advance.

*Note: not all recreation sites take reservations.

All rules and regulations for the public use of Corps lands are described in Title 36, Chapter III, Part 327. The following document provides more detailed information specific to hunting on Corps lands within the Portland District. Hunters should be aware that some of the lands surrounding Corps reservoirs are managed by other County, State, and Federal agencies and different guidelines may apply. Hunters are responsible for recognizing private land boundaries and should not hunt on private land without permission of the landowner.

Questions about these guidelines should be directed to:

Bonneville Lock and Dam, 541-374-8344

The Dalles Lock and Dam, 541-506-7857

John Day Lock and Dam, 541-739-1135

Rogue River Basin Project, 541-878-2255

  • Information about hunting at Applegate project should be obtained from local U.S. Forest Service offices.
  • Rifle hunting is allowed in designated areas at Elk Creek and Lost Creek reservoir, with restrictions.

Willamette Valley Projects, 541-942-5631

 

DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS
PORTLAND DISTRICT
333 SW 1st AVE
PORTLAND, OREGON 97201-2946 

 

CENWP-DE                                                                                                   27 September 2012




SUBJECT: Commander’s Policy Letter #19, Geocaching Within Portland District Boundaries



1. Purpose. Geocaching may be allowed on public lands managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in accordance with the Code of Federal Regulations Title 36 (CFR 36) and any applicable state or local rules and regulations, provided the activity is conducted in an unobtrusive manner. Geocaching can be an appropriate and compatible recreational activity on public land and water, as long as common sense guidelines are followed. Some Corps projects have used the popularity of the sport as an innovative tool to distribute information, such as water safety, in geocaches on Corps-managed lands.



2. Definition of Geocaching. Geocaching is an outdoor adventure activity for users of global positioning systems (GPS). Individuals and organizations set up geocaches (caches) all over the world and share their locations, often through the Internet. Numerous web sites are available, with one of the most popular being http://www.geocaching.com/. GPS users can then find the caches through published coordinates and site descriptions. Most commonly, a geocache is an object or container holding small objects for exchange. The finder may remove the enclosed "prize" and leave another, sign a logbook, or utilize a number of variations. Some "caches" are simply locations with unusual vegetation or unique land features the cache owner wants the cache hunter to experience (virtual caches). There is also a derivative form of the sport that searches for published coordinates of an existing historical monument, plaque, or benchmark.

While geocaching has become the standard name for the sport, other terms include Navicaching, GPS Orienteering, GPS Stash Hunt, and Benchmarking.



3. Policy. In accordance with 36 CFR 327.19 or 327.21, District Engineers, or their designees, may develop permit systems or policies to track and/or control placement of geocaches on project lands, provided this use does not conflict with project missions or security. Simplicity and ease of compliance should be emphasized. Information needed from the proposed geocache owner will include the cache coordinates (location), his/her name, and his/her address and phone number. The intent of collecting this information is to keep track of the location and number of caches on the project and to contact the owner if the cache needs to be removed. During application, the project should ask the proposed cache owner to provide a current picture form of identification with an address to confirm the applicant's identity. This information is voluntary; however, the applicant’s request can be denied for failure to comply with the information request. The project is required to store this information in a secure manner. Geocache objects or containers should be clearly identified as such when placed on public lands. Transparent containers are required, due to homeland security issues. Caches should not contain alcohol, illicit, or other inappropriate materials. It is the due diligence responsibility of the Project Operations Manager to work with the cache owners and jointly conduct periodic cache inspections to insure they are not being used for illicit and/or inappropriate purposes.

a. Individuals or groups that participate in geocaching activities on Corps property must be responsible for coordinating these activities with the Portland District, to help prevent potential conflicts with management activities (i.e., controlled burns, timber sales, planting, etc.)



4. Restrictions. It is the due diligence responsibility of the Project Operations Manager to establish designated areas where geocaching will be allowed and other areas where it will be restricted. Geocaching activities will not be allowed to occur in restricted areas where there could be conflicts with project missions, project security, or the safety of the general public.

Examples where geocaching would not be allowed include but are not limited to:

a. In designated restricted areas.

b. lf the cache, directly or indirectly, would negatively affect ecologically, environmentally, or socially sensitive areas (i.e., threatened or endangered species, critical habitats, cultural resources, tribal lands without consent, etc.).

c. In areas with potential safety risks, such as unstable banks, cliffs, or other hazards.

d. Where geocaching activities may interfere with established public uses, such as boat launching, picnicking, swimming, etc.

f. Where geocaching activities may interfere with the operation or security of the project.



5. Management Considerations. Management considerations at individual projects may require other permanent or temporary measures to ensure that geocaching activities are compatible with other project uses. For example, a project may need to prohibit geocaching during active management in an area for timber harvest, prescribed burning, hunting, or other wildlife management activities. Some projects may want to encourage and actively participate in geocaching activities to promote the Corps message in a positive way.

a. In certain instances, it may be necessary to issue a Special Event Permit in compliance with Title 36, 327.21. Conditions that may warrant the need for a Special Event Permit may include one-time activities that are publicly advertised, commercial in nature, involve large numbers of participants, provide cash prizes or other significant awards, or may potentially conflict with other uses of an area, etc.

b. If a cache must be removed from public lands for operational, safety, environmental, cultural, or other reason, a reasonable effort should be made to contact the cache owner and request removal. If the owner cannot be found, or the cache is not removed within a reasonable time, the cache may be removed and impounded as abandoned property, under 36 CFR 327.15.



6. Summary. In general, geocaching can be a fun and appropriate recreational activity at Corps projects, provided the security or missions of the project are not compromised. It provides an opportunity for positive interactions and partnerships with local groups involved in this activity.

Monitoring of web sites, communication and participation with these groups can form healthy relationships with benefits to all involved. Working with these groups can prevent problems and promote the Corps as a willing partner. Regulation should be based on common-sense needs of specific projects or areas, with a minimal permitting burden on the recreating public.


Questions about these guidelines should be directed to:

Bonneville Lock and Dam, 541-374-8344

The Dalles Lock and Dam, 541-506-7857

John Day Lock and Dam, 541-739-1135

Rogue River Basin Project, 541-878-2255

Willamette Valley Projects, 541-942-5631

 

These five steps will help you to anchor safely:

  1. Use anchor lines that are 5-7 times the depth of the water.
    1. Use a float for the anchor line to serve as a buffer and to reduce the risk of getting the anchor line tangled in the propeller.

    2. Lower, do not throw, the anchor to avoid tangles in the line.

    3. Anchor only off the point of the bow. Anchoring off the stern or the side will capsize your boat.

  2. Power upstream of anchor before retrieving it. Maintain position in line with the flow of the current while retrieving anchor. Turning cross-wise to the current increases the risk of capsizing.

  3. Rivers can become turbulent with little or no warning. You are advised to wear a Coast Guard-approved Personal Flotation Device at all times. Also, take precautions against hypothermia. River temperatures can range from 70 degrees in the summer to near freezing during the winter.

  4. River users are reminded that although it is legal to anchor in the channel, it is illegal to block the right-of-way of a vessel that is restricted to using the channel.

  5. Five blasts of the horn signify danger, and you must take action to avoid that danger.

For more tips, visit the Corps of Engineers National Water Safety website.

Click here for a print version of this information.

Day-use fees, including boat ramp and dump station fees, will be collected while parks are available for camping. No fees are collected during park closure dates. Some boat ramps outside fee campgrounds will charge a $3 launch fee per day, which is valid at any Corps-managed recreation site for day it was purchased.

Some designated swim beaches outside fee campgrounds may charge a use fee of $1 per person over the age of 12 or in a vehicle up to $4. However, if a vehicle has more than 8 passengers over the age of 12, there will be a fee of $1 for each additional individual over the age of 12.

All fees have been set to maintain comparable fee schedules with other federal, state, county and private campgrounds. All fees meet the requirements set in Engineering Publication 1130-2-550. Fee comparability within the same state and district is outlined in Paragraph 9 of EP 1130-2-550.

Seaplanes may be operated seven days a week between sunrise and sunset at all Portland District lakes with the exception of Big Cliff, Applegate and Willow Creek lakes. Once on the water seaplanes shall be considered powerboats and must be operated in accordance with marine rules of the road. Seaplanes in the water may taxi to any area of the lake subject to the powerboating restrictions for those lakes. For more information, see: Seaplane operations at Corps of Engineers lakes.

 

If you're enthusiastic about the outdoors, enjoy meeting new people and want to protect parks, then sign up to be a volunteer!
Click here for a listing of current volunteer opportunities at Portland District Park and Corps sites across the country. 


For both safety and security reasons, the operation of aircraft, including drones (formally known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems) may not be operated within 500 feet of operational areas at Corps projects. This includes land with structures such as dams. Click here for the complete District policy memo.

The Corps of Engineers, National Weather Service and other agencies cooperatively gather and analyze data for current and projected future reservoir and river level information.

Know before you go!

Reservoir and water levels

Northwest River Forecast Center

National Weather Service

 

For more information

John Day Lock and Dam fact sheet

Contact us about John Day:

General: 541-739-1135

Email us about the John Day Project 

For reservations*: 877-444-6777

or go to Recreation.gov

*(Note: not all recreation sites take reservations)

John Day images

Operations: John Day

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River and Harbor / Flood Control acts of 1950

John Day navigation

Lock length 650 ft 198 m
Lock width 86 ft 26 m
Max. lift 113 ft 34 m
Avg. transit time 30 min.  

John Day hydropower

Powerhouse length 1975 ft 602 m
Generators/total output 16 2160 mw

John Day recreation

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Contact information: 541-454-2868

Directions: From I-84, take exit 137.

Contact information: 541-481-7217

Directions: From I-84, take exit 165.

No fees. 14-day use limit; first-come, first-served availability, no reservations.

Amenities and activities:

  • Fishing
  • Vault toilet

Contact information: 541-739-1135
Directions: From Hwy. 14, turn south on the John Day Dam Road between mileposts 108 and 109, by the old aluminum plant. Follow the paved road until it becomes gravel.

Operated by the Port of Benton County since August 1, 2007.

Contact information: 509-948-6069

Directions: Milepost 155 off of Hwy. 14.

The Giles French park sign welcomes youNo fees, 14-day use limit. First-come, first-serve availability; no reservations.

Amenities and activities:
  • Bathrooms
  • Boat ramp and dock
  • Camping (primitive)
  • Trail

Contact information: 541-739-1135
Directions: From I-84, take Rufus exit 109, go north toward the river and turn right.

Directions: From I-84, take exit 168.

Small version of Lepage Park amenities map; links to larger versionOpen from April 15 to Oct. 15. Availability is first-come, first-serve unless reserved at Recreation.gov or by calling 877-444-6777. 









Fees:

  • River campsite: $22 / night
  • Back-in campsite: $22 / night
  • Gazebo tents (sites T9 & T19): $17.00
  • Tent campsite: $15 / nightSome of Lepage Park's many scenic views and amenities. (Friday and Saturday nights only)
  • Overflow campsite: $15 / night
  • Day use fee: $5 per car
  • Extra vehicle: $5 per night
  • Boat ramp and tie-up dock fee: $5 / day
  • Dump station fee: $5 / dump (free to paid campers)The Lepage Park sign welcomes you
  • Bus or commercial vehicle: $20.00 per vehicle
Amenities and activities:







  • Bathrooms
  • Beach
  • Courtesy docks
  • Dump station (free to paid campers)
  • Electricity
  • Fishing
  • Warm showers

Contact information: 541-739-2713 or 541-739-1135

Directions: From I-84, take exit 114 (approximately 3 miles from John Day Dam.)

Open April 15 – Oct. 15. First-come, first-serve availability, unless reserved at Recreation.gov or 1-877-444-6777. $35/night for group camping. Site can accomodate up to 60 people. 7-day limit.

Amenities & activities:

  • Camping (primitive)
  • Vault toilet
  • Shore access to the river

Contact information: 509-783-1270 or 541-739-1135

Directions: Take Hwy. 14 to Plymouth, Wash. Paradise Park is 2.9 miles west of Plymouth Rd. on Christie Rd.


Amenities:
  • Boat ramp (primitive)
  • Vault toilet

Contact information: 541-739-1135

Directions: From I-84, take US-730 east / Columbia River Hwy. and go north on Paterson Ferry Rd. approximately 3.4 miles to the park.

Open from May 19 to Sept. 30. Camping available on a first-come, first-serve basis.


Amenities and activities:

  • Bathrooms
  • Beach
  • Camping
  • Courtesy docks
  • Fishing
  • Warm showers

Contact information: 541-739-1135

Directions: Philippi Park is accessible by boat only and is located approximately three miles up the John Day River from its confluence with the Columbia.  Parking and boat launch facilities are available at LePage Park.


Small version of Plymouth Park's site amenities map; links to larger versionOpen April 15 – Oct. 15. Plymouth Day Use Swim Beach open May 15 - Sept. 15. Campground availability is first-come, first-serve unless reserved at Recreation.gov or 1-877-444-6777. 

Fees:

  • Full hook-up campsite: $27.00 per night
  • Partial hook-up campsite: $24.00 per night
  • Tent campsite: $15.00 per night - Friday/Saturday nights only and Sunday night of a holiday weekend. Please go to www.Recreation.gov if you are reserving a campsite on a holiday weekend.
  • Day use fee: $5.00 per car
  • Boat dock & ramp fee: $5.00 per day
  • Dump station fee: $5.00 per dump (free to paid campers)
  • Bus or commercial vehicle: $20.00 per vehicle

Amenities and activities:

  • Bathrooms
  • Beach
  • Courtesy docks
  • Dump station (free to paid campers)
  • Electricity
  • Fishing
  • Showers

Click here for the Plymouth Park recreation map

Contact information: 509-783-1270 or 541-739-1135

Directions: On Hwy. 14 between exits 179 & 180.

No fees. 14-day use limit; first-come, first-served availability, no reservations.

Amenities and activities:

  • Boat launch with courtesy dock
  • Fishing
  • Vault toilet

Contact information: 541-739-1135
Directions: From Hwy. 14, turn south on the John Day Dam Road between mileposts 108 and 109, by the old aluminum plant. Follow the road and the park will be on the left.

No fees; 14-day use limit. First-come, first-serve availability; no reservations.

Amenities and activities:
  • Boat ramp (primitive)
  • Camping (primitive)
  • Portable toilets (April - Sept. only)

Contact information: 541-739-1135

Directions: 35 miles east of The Dalles from Hwy. 14.

No fees; 14-day use limit.

Amenities & activities:

  • Bathrooms
  • Boat ramp
  • Camping (primitive)
  • Fishing
  • Picnic shelters
  • Shore access to the river
  • Vault toilet
  • Windsurfing

Contact information: 541-739-1135

Directions: 50 miles east of The Dalles from Hwy. 14.

No fees, 14-day use limit.

Amenities & activities:

  • Boat ramp open to the public except during commercial treaty fishing seasons.
  • Camping (primitive)
  • Picnic area
  • Vault toilet

Contact information: 541-739-1135

Directions: Off Hwy. 14, about five miles west of Roosevelt.

Highway sign on eastbound I-84 welcoming you to Threemile CanyonNo fees, 14-day use limit. First-come, first-serve availability; no reservations.

Amenities and activities:
  • Camping (primitive)
  • Fishing
  • Gravel boat ramp
  • Vault toilet
  • Windsurfing

Contact information: 541-739-1135

Directions: Take exit 151 for Threemile Canyon from I-84.

Contact information: 541-922-3939 or 541-567-6151

Directions: From I-82, take exit 1.

For Willow Creek Dam information: 541-676-9009
For campground information (operated by Heppner Parks and Recreation): 541-676-5576

 

John Day map