The Upper Klamath begins in Southern Oregon and ends in California. This is a consistent big water run even in mid summer due to dependable dam releases from John C. Boyle Powerhouse. The river cuts a steep wilderness canyon through a high desert volcanic plateau at the south edge of the Cascades. The area is rich in Old West history with old cabins, mines, and long-deserted Indian settlements. It's also a major stop on the Pacific flyway, with frequent sightings of bald eagles, osprey, and blue herons.

Featured Outfitter

Momentum River ExpeditionsMomentum River Expeditions (541) 488-2525 offers world-class rafting trips in Oregon, Northern California, and Idaho.

This river makes a very action packed 1-day trip or a base camp style 2-day trip (There is a 'safari style' riverside camp with luxury camping and multi-sport options).Because there is a warm up stretch the Upper Klamath is a great trip for both experienced and first-time paddlers in good health.

The river starts off with several miles of Class II and III warm up rapids before passing the historic Frain Ranch area (a great campsite). After Frain ranch the canyon constricts and drops into the famous five mile 'Hells Canyon' gorge. The first big rapid is Class IV+ Caldera rapid; a long steep drop with many rocks and holes. Below here are several Class III rapids followed by the Class IV Satan's Gate. Immediately after Satan’s Gate is Hell's Corner - an amazing half-mile long Class IV+ rapid that for many is the highlight of the run.

After Hell's Corner are more Class III and IV rapids including Ambush, Old Bushwhacker, Snag Island Falls, and finally State Line Falls. Below State Line Falls there is six miles of class II whitewater before taking out just above Copco Reservoir.

Trip Highlights

Mile 0: Put-in a few hundred yards downstream from the John Boyle Powerhouse.

Put-in for the Upper Klamath River

Put-in for the Upper Klamath River

Mile 5.7: Caldera Rapid (IV+) and the beginning of the Upper Klamath gorge. The gradient here steepens to 75 fpm.

Caldera Rapid on the Upper Klamath River

Caldera Rapid on the Upper Klamath River | Photo courtesy of Momentum River Expeditions

Mile 6.9: Satan's Gate (IV)

Mile 7.2: Hell's Corner (IV+) should definitely be scouted.

Mile 8.2: Ambush (IV)

Mile 11: End of the gorge section and the river access. An old bridge here designates the California-Oregon border.

Mile 17: Takeout at Copco Lake. You can take out at Fishing Access 1 or use the takeout about half mile down at Copco Lake Store for a small fee.

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