Portland District

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Lost Lake project data

Dam length 3,750 ft 1,143 m
Height 327 ft 100 m
Elevation (NGVD*) 1,882 ft 570 m
Max. capacity 2 generators 49.2 mw
Lake length 10 mi 16 km
Lake area (full) 3,430 ac 1,389 ha
*National Geodetic Vertical Datum
(Mean Sea Level)

Contact us about Jess Dam:

Phone: 541-878-2255

Email us about Jess Dam / Lost Creek

Reservoir elevation, flow and temperature report: 800-472-2434

Jess Dam and Lost Creek Reservoir

William L. Jess Dam is situated on the main stem of the Rogue River, about 28 miles northeast of Medford, Ore., in a timbered canyon on the Rogue River. The Lost Creek Reservoir and features public access areas, parks, boat ramps and 30 miles of scenic trails.

Jess Dam at Lost Creek is a 327-foot-high rockfill embankment structure with a gated spillway. Jess Dam was the first of three multi-purpose storage projects finished in the Rogue River Basin project. 

Authorized primary purposes include flood risk management, water supply, water quality improvement, fish and wildlife habitat enhancement and recreation.

In 1996, Congress renamed Lost Creek Dam in honor of William L. Jess, a strong advocate for multiple uses of impounded waters and one of the founders of the Rogue Basin Association, established in 1955.

Link to PDF version of Lost Creek map

Jess Dam Operations

Lost Creek / William L. Jess Dam and Reservoir

The William L. Jess Dam and intake structure is a 327-foot-high rockfill embankment structure. Construction began in 1967 and the lake began filling in February 1977. Runoff from a drainage area of 674 square miles pools into Lost Creek Lake. The lake provides 465,000 acre-feet of total storage and has an area of 3,430 acres when full.

A regulating outlet tunnel, power penstock, and intake tower with multi-level intakes are located in the dam's right abutment; a gate-controlled concrete chute spillway is located in the left abutment. The powerhouse's generating capacity of 49,200 kilowatts comes from two 24.6-megawatt generators.

Environmental concerns prompted the Corps to construct an innovative multi-port intake tower, allowing operators regulate the temperatures of water released from the lake. Lost Creek’s intake structure combines lake water from different depths in a mixing chamber before releasing it downstream, regulating the water temperature and improving conditions for fish migration and survival in the Applegate and Rogue rivers. 

The returning fish are collected just below the dam and transported to the Cole M. Rivers Fish Hatchery, located just downstream of William L. Jess Dam on the Rogue River, for spawning. Later, juveniles are released into the Applegate River to maintain the runs.

For the reservoir elevation, flow and temperature report, call 800-472-2434.

Recreation at Lost Creek Reservoir

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Life jackets are available seasonally (i.e., during summer months); contact parks for detailed dates of operation. Life jackets are available on a first come, first serve basis.

Joseph H. Stewart State Park boat ramp: Located on Oregon State Hwy. 62, 35 miles northeast of Medford (approximately 12 miles from Trail, Ore.).

Takelma Park boat ramp: At 3970 Rogue River Dr., Shady Cove, Ore., 19 miles northeast of Medford via Oregon State Hwy. 62. Turn left on Hwy. 234, turn right on Rogue River Dr., and continue for 3 miles north of Dodge Bridge.


Overlooking Lost Creek Reservoir, this area is surrounded by wildlife, large conifer trees and mountains. Hike or bike the 11-mile trail system through the forest with year-round streams and wildlife viewing. Take a swim in cool mountain water, rent a boat from the marina, or troll the 10-mile lake for trout and bass. If you prefer, bring your own boat and water skis.

Operating hours: Open from March 1 through Oct. 31.

Directions: From Medford, take OR-62 East towards Crater Lake/Klamath Falls for 33 miles. Park will be on the left.

For more information, call the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department's general information line at 800-551-6949 or see http://www.oregonstateparks.org/park_30.php


The park is located on State Highway 62, the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway, near Cole Rivers Fish Hatchery. Dedicated in July 1977, McGregor Park was specifically designed for the convenience of visitors with disabilities. Restrooms and trash service enhance the picnic tables and grills scattered throughout the park. The visitor center displays information about local plants, wildlife, geology, and cultural history, and provides information about recreational opportunities. An interpretive trail is a short walk from the visitor center, with information about local river ecology and all the wildlife, insects, birds and plants that rely on the waterway.

Operating hours: Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend; please call for current daily hours.

Directions: From Medford, take OR-62 East for about 30 miles. Turn left on Takelma Drive. Visitor Center will be on the right.

For more information, contact the Rogue River Basin Project Office at 541-878-2255 or email dll-cenwp-rogue-rangers@usace.army.mil.

River’s Edge Park, just downriver from William L. Jess Dam, is a great place to host a family get-together, summer picnic or birthday party. The park's group pavilion is available by reservation from Memorial Day to Labor Day; each year's reservations are accepted starting Jan. 1. Availability is first-come, first-served; weddings are allowed with a permit.

Directions: From Medford, take Oregon State Hwy. 62 east for about 30 miles. Turn left on Takelma Dr. and follow the signs for the project office. The park will be on the left.

Reserve the group pavilion by calling 541-878-2255 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, or by emailing: dll-cenwp-rogue-rangers@usace.army.mil

Boating at Lost Creek Lake

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


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