Malheur Wild and Scenic River

Area Status: Open

The middle fork of the Malheur River was one of forty rivers originally designated in the Omnibus Oregon Wild and Scenic River Act of 1988.  Residing completely on National Forest System lands, the entire wild and scenic river boundary encompasses 3,758 acres with 12.0 miles of river.

At a Glance

Current Conditions: 12/08/2021: The area is open. Visitors should be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions. Some roads become impassible due to snow, ice or mud during the winter months. Pack it in/Pack it out- anything you bring with you into the forest, please take home with you. This includes packing out all trash, yours and others. Examples: cigarette butts, cans, bottles, and food. Please follow local and state health guidelines.
Usage: Light
Restrictions: No motorized vehicles allowed in river canyon south of Malheur Ford.
Closest Towns: Seneca, OR

General Information


The Malheur River is located approximately 27 miles south of Prairie City, Oregon, in the Blue Mountains. To get to the Malheur Ford, from Prairie City, Oregon turn onto South Main Street.  Continue to the junction with Bridge Street.  Turn left on to Bridge Street, continue past the cemetary, the road then becomes County Road 62.  Continue on County Road 62 for approximately 25 miles to the junction with Forest Road 16.  Turn west on Forest Road 16 and continue for approximately 5 miles to the junction with Forest Road 1647.  Turn south on Forest Road 1647 and follow signs south for 7 miles. Access to the river is limited with most vehicle use occurring along the northern part. Other areas are accessible by hiking and riding stock.


Parking is limited at the Malheur Ford. 


River and Stream Fishing

Most recreationists seek the Malheur River for its abundance of scenic beauty, relaxation, fishing oppotunities, and remoteness. Facilities such as campgrounds, and road access are limited. There is however one small camping facility along the river at the Malheur Ford. The facility has less than 5 parking spaces for daytime trailhead use, and only 2 camping spots. The sites are primitive with only tables, firerings and a vault toilet.  There is no potable water. The Malheur Ford Trailhead also serves as the trailhead for the Malheur River Trail #303. This trail is 7.6 miles long and extends to the end of the Forest boundary as well as Wild and Scenic River boundary. The southern trailhead at Hog Flat offers very good access by vehicles with and without trailers.

Viewing Scenery

Being recognized for its outstanding remarkable values of scenery, geology, wildlife habitat, and history, the river corridor is a diverse display of a high elevation riparian ecosystem. The actual headwaters are not within the corridor, but are located 10 miles to the north in the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness area. This portion of the Malheur River flows through a low elevational ponderosa pine forest and eventually exits the Forest into a sagebrush/juniper desert. The upper end of the river is generally characterized by a rather broad valley carved by glacial activity. Open ponderosa pine forests intermingled with large native wet meadows dominate. As the river approaches Malheur Ford (named for the lower ford crossing), the corridor becomes more rugged and narrow. Larger, old growth ponderosa pine and steep canyon walls begin to define the corridor, with the walls in many locations rising from 300 to 1000 feet. A parade of various rock outcrops, talus slopes, and cliffs created by erosion as the river cut through the many layers of volcanic material, is on display. These geologic feature contribute to the rugged scenic beauty of the lower corridor and are all part of the Strawberry formation which was deposited between 12 and 15 millions years ago. In the lower lands you will find ponderosa pine, depending on where you go. You may also find lodgepole pine, Douglas-fir, white fir, aspen, and juniper. If you look down, you will probably see elk sedge, pinegrass, wheatgrass, huckleberry, bluegrass, and many wildflowers. As you hike higher, you will find subalpine fir, just below the treeless mountain crests.

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities



  Area/Length : 
12 miles