News Releases

Swim, paddle, relax: Dive into the summer secrets of seven Willamette Valley reservoirs

Portland District
Published May 22, 2024
Man rides jetski on a body of water.

Nick Hansen, 22, of Etna, California, riding a jetski at Fall Creek Reservoir on May 31, 2014.

This Memorial Day weekend and continuing into the summer, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' (USACE) reservoirs in the Willamette Valley are overflowing with recreation opportunities for visitors of all ages.

"Thanks to the spring rain, many of our reservoirs are over 80% full, and we're excited to invite the public out to experience the beauty of our locations in the Willamette Valley," said Paige King, a ranger with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "Whether you're into paddle boarding, boating, camping, or simply experiencing nature, there's something for everyone to enjoy."

Ranger King added that USACE campgrounds in the Willamette Valley have more availability during the week and on non-holiday weekends, and visitors who would like to camp should make reservations as early as possible.

Here's a snapshot of the recreation opportunities available at some USACE reservoirs:

Fall Creek: This location is a haven for stand-up paddleboarders. North Shore, a low-water boat ramp, and Winberry, a high-water boat ramp are open.
Cottage Grove: At Pine Meadows campground, it’s possible to pull boats next to shoreline campsites. The Lakeside and Wilson Creek boat ramps are open.
Dorena: Harms Boat Ramp offer adventures for both motorized boaters and kayak enthusiasts. Bake Stewart Park provides a haven for experienced kayakers and is not very busy this time of year.
Fern Ridge: Paddleboarders tend to flock to Shore Lane, which has less motorized boat traffic. West Kirk is ideal for non-motorized boaters, fishing enthusiasts, and those seeking tranquility.
Lookout Point: Both Signal Point, a low-water boat ramp, and Meridian, a high-water boat ramp, are open for boaters and kayakers, catering to varying water levels and preferences.
Foster: Water-skiing and motorized boating are very popular activities here, so the lake can be crowded on weekends and holidays; visitors are encouraged to plan accordingly.
Detroit: One of USACE's most popular Willamette Valley locations, Detroit offers boat ramps, picnic tables and scenic views from the day-use area. The reservoir is also a designated stop along the Mt. Jefferson section of the Oregon Cascades Birding Trail.

Water safety remains a top priority. Visitors are reminded to wear properly-fitted life jackets and carry a whistle. Children aged 12 and under must always wear a life jacket. ​Operators are required to carry a Waterway Access Permit for all motorized and non-motorized water craft 10 feet or longer, including sailboats between 10'-11'11; permits can be purchased through ODFW's eLicensing system and through the Marine Board's Boat Oregon Store. Children 13 and younger are not required to have a permit.

Visitors are encouraged to reach out to local offices to confirm site openings and to check the levels of the Willamette Valley reservoirs.

For boaters seeking information about boat ramp access availability, the Oregon State Marine Board website provides up-to-date details.

About the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:
The Portland District was established in 1871 and has one of the nation's most comprehensive and diversified civil works programs.

Covering most of Oregon and southwestern Washington, the district operates locks and dams along the Columbia River, operates dams in the Willamette Valley for flood risk management, maintains Oregon's coastal rivers for navigation and leads the nation in hydropower generation, all while ensuring equal attention to environmental protection and restoration, fish and wildlife enhancement and recreation.

Kerry Solan

Release no. 24-006

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