This National Wild and Scenic River and it's tributaries flow from the northwest slopes Steens Mountain in southeastern Oregon. Like many rivers in Oregon it carves a deep canyon through basalt layers. It is rarely paddled since it is in a remote part of Oregon only has enough water to kayak a few days each year.
The river was originally named "Dunder und Blitzen" (thunder and lightning) by Colonel George M. Curry in 1864 and was renamed "Donner und Blitzen" by settlers of the area.
Call the BLM office in Burns to confirm the gates on the Steens Mountain Loop Road are open. You can apply for a Winter Recreation Permit to get a gate key from the BLM.
Mile 0: Put-in at Page Springs where the Steens Mountain Loop crosses the South Fork of the Donner und Blitzen River. Big India Creek, a Wild and Scenic tributary, enters the South Fork just upstream of put-in.
Mile 2.75: Sharp Bend (IV) is a tricky rapid comes up quickly as the river bends to the left.
Mile 3.6: The Little Blitzen River enters from river right and increases the flow by about 50%. The Little Blitzen River is also designated as a National Wild and Scenic River.
Mile 5.6: Tombstone Canyon is on river left. There is a trail out of the canyon on river left here.
Mile 7.9: Indian Springs Creek enters from the right and a series of great Class III and III+ rapids follows.
Mile 13.2: Fish Creek is enters on the right and the river starts to get easier. It is another National Wild and Scenic tributary to the Donner und Blitzen River.
Mile 16: Look out for a man made weir. You can scout and portage on the right side.
Mile 17.2: Take-out at Page Springs Campground. There is a day use fee to park here. Below here the Donner und Blitzen flows in to Malheur Lake.