US Army Corps of Engineers
Portland District

Recreation with the Portland District

Images of Portland District's recreation opportunities

The Corps provides quality public outdoor recreation to serve the needs of present and future generations, while managing and conserving natural resources. The Portland District’s recreation program offers world class wind surfing, excellent fly fishing, and a wide assortment of camping, hiking, boating, fishing, biking, geocaching, and wildlife viewing opportunities.

Visit one of our recreation areas to connect with nature and create lasting memories. More than 90 percent of our recreation areas are within 50 miles of a city or town.


Life jackets and water safety

Cormorants on East Sand Island

 

Life jackets are available during the summer months at certain sites. Visit project sites or contact parks for detailed dates of operation. 

Life jackets are available on a first come, first serve basis.

For a list of life jacket loaner stations, click here.

Visit our water safety page for more safety tips.

Visit our water safety page for more information.
Visit our water safety page for more information.

* Statistics current as of September 2019.

Rules, policies and related information

Reserving campsites: 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.

Hunting guidelines: 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.

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

Hunting in the Willamette Valley? View hunting guidelines and maps

Geocaching policy: 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. Read more about the policy here.

Anchor safely: 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 websiteClick here for a print version of this information.

Fee collection and comparison: 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 on Corps lakes: 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.

Volunteering: 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. 

Drone policy: 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.

Weather and water levels: 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

Questions about any 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