All About the Umatilla National Forest

Umatilla National Forest Website

The Umatilla National Forest lies nestled in the valleys of the Blue Mountains of southeast Washington and northeast Oregon. Its 1.4 million acres hold a surprising variety of landscapes. The wetter northern portion of the Forest contains moist-forest tree types such as grand and subalpine firs. The drying southern portion contains abundant lodgepole and ponderosa pine stands. In autumn, western larch and tamarak trees provide splashes of color.

The Umatilla has four ranger stations spread across two states. The Heppner and North Fork John Day districts are in Oregon, the Pomeroy district is in Washington, and the Walla Walla district manages lands in both states. The Forest is known nationally for its excellent big game viewing and hunting. It supports one of the largest herds of Rocky Mountain Elk found in any National Forest. Nearly 38,000 hunters visit Umatilla each year for the game hunting opportunities. The Forest emphasizes “traditional ways for new days,” inviting a new generation of visitors to experience timeless traditions that remain a staple of life in eastern Oregon and Washington. 

The North Fork John Day River means different things to different people. From its origin at the crest of the Blue Mountains, this National Wild and Scenic River travels 107 miles, providing an abundance of recreation and habitat along the way. For whitewater rafters, the river offers a series of challenging rapids, to test all skill levels from beginner, to expert. For floaters, the river provides a gentler experience along a popular stretch from Dale to Monument, Oregon.

For hikers, departing from almost any point on the shore leads to ponderosa pine forests with abundant wildflowers in the spring. For wildlife, the river is one of the most important in northeast Oregon. It sustains anadromous fish species, including chinook salmon and steelhead, and rainbow trout.

The Umatilla National Forest takes its name from the [Nixyáawii/ Sahaptin] word meaning “water rippling over sands” Explorers Lewis and Clark came past the area in 1805 on their Columbia River Voyage to the Pacific Ocean. Marcus and Narcissa Whitman passed this way in 1836 to establish a mission at Wailatpu near Walla Walla, Washington. Thousands of emigrants followed the Oregon Trail westward, and many remained in the Blue Mountain country.

1.4 million acres
304,167 acres of wilderness
619,000 acres for timber production
392 campsites
2 downhill ski areas
52 principal watersheds
  • Your Fees At Work

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    See what was accomplished this last year on the Umatilla National Forest thanks to recreation fees.