All About the Willamette National Forest

Willamette National Forest Website

The Willamette National Forest draws its name from the Willamette River, which originates deep within the Forest. Originally part of the Cascade Range Forest Reserve designated by President Grover Cleveland in 1893, the Forest assumed its current identity in 1933. The Willamette spans 110 miles along the western slopes of the Cascade Range including Mt. Jefferson and the Three Sisters. The lush and diverse landscape is dominated by high mountains, narrow canyons, and numerous waterfalls.

Each year, the Forest invites more than 1.5 million visitors to “Follow the Water” by traveling its three Scenic Byways, where visitors can experience more than 1,500 miles of rivers and 375 lakes, many of which are located over 4,000 feet in elevation. Its plentiful trails, stellar winter recreation areas, and awe-inspiring vistas leave visitors breathless for more.

Waldo Lake lies more than 5,400 feet above sea level on the western slopes of the Oregon Cascades. Waldo is one of the largest natural lakes in Oregon and is the state’s second deepest after Crater Lake. It is also one of the purest and most clear lakes in the world, a result of lacking a permanent inlet that could introduce plant-fostering nutrients. On a calm day, visitors can see to the depths of 120 feet.
The lake is named after Oregon Supreme Court Judge John B. Waldo, who pushed for its preservation, ultimately leading to establishment of the Cascade Forest Reserve in 1893. Today, the lake serves as an alpine jewel and a sought-after destination for Forest visitors. Hiking, camping, kayaking, and picnicking are just a few of the activities the area offers.

The Upper Middle Fork Willamette watershed is the site of the first successful reintroduction of native Bull Trout to the wild since the species was listed as Threatened in 1998. Bull Trout are North America’s southernmost descendant of arctic char, a subgroup of the salmon family. They thrive in cold and clean waters.

1.6 million acres
380,805 acres of wilderness
70,645 miles of streams
4,462 acres of lakes
3 wild and scenic rivers
52 principal watersheds
  • Your Fees At Work

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