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John Day River Basin

The John Day River is a Wild and Scenic River in Oregon's high desert. This section contains information about the Spring Basin Wilderness Area and potential Wilderness areas such as Sutton Mountain, Cathedral Rock, Horse Heaven, Painted Hills. Also included is information about visiting the John Day River to fish, raft, hike, camp, hunt and view wildlife.

Home to Wild Waters

Framed by the Ochoco Mountains to its west and the Blue Mountains to its east, the ruggedly beautiful John Day River Basin holds the key to the recovery of several important native fish species.

Cathedral Rock by Greg Burke
Cathedral Rock.
Photo: Greg Burke

The John Day River flows freely—absent of dams for 281 miles from the Strawberry Mountains to the Columbia River. It is the second longest free-flowing river in the continental United States and the longest undammed tributary of the Columbia.

The John Day River provides unparalleled habitat for wild steelhead (under endangered species protection), Chinook salmon (proposed for endangered species listing), bull trout ( endangered species listed), westslope cutthroat, and interior redband. For this reason, ONDA works to permanently protect public lands vital to the success of these native fish populations throughout the John Day Basin.

Click here for places to visit in the John Day River Basin.

Campaign Achievements

ONDA has worked for decades to restore and protect this area because of the critical habitat it provides fish and wildlife, as well as the captivating experience it offers visitors. These efforts paid off in 2009 with the designation of Spring Basin Wilderness Area, and in 2008 to today with important court rulings protecting fish habitat from ongoing degradation. We continue to work with partners to find new ways to protect this important ecosystem.

Sutton Mountain image
Sutton Mountain.
Photo: Jim Davis

Current Objectives

Today, ONDA is working to obtain wilderness designations for more than 130,000 acres of river corridor and upland fish and wildlife habitat. These areas are known as Cathedral Rock and Horse Heaven, Sutton Mountain, and the Lower John Day.

Take Action today to protect and restore the John Day River by giving, becoming an advocate or volunteering.

For more information about ONDA's John Day campaigns, contact Ben Gordon, ben@onda.org, 541-330-2638.

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Oregon Natural Desert Association
50 SW Bond Street, Suite 4,
Bend, OR 97702
Tel: (541) 330-2638
Email:

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