Elkhorn Valley Recreation Site/ Little North Santiam Recreation Area
Guide

Introduction

Visit Elkhorn Valley Recreation Site in the Little North Santiam Recreation Area for memorable camping and recreation opportunities in a beautifully decorated and forested setting. This Bureau of Land Management area lies southeast of Salem, Oregon, in areas that can be easily accessed by any form of vehicle via North Santiam Highway.

During your stay in this BLM park, you will get the chance to view deep emerald pools that are surrounded by waterfalls and cliffs, as well as old-growth forest. If you are interested in fishing or swimming in the Little North Santiam River, you will find trails that lead to areas where these opportunities abound. By the way, this river offers some of the best swimming in Oregon, so carry your swimming gear along.

Whether you’re by yourself or you have your family with you on vacation here, you’ll find plenty of spots to enjoy picnics and cool off. Nearby attractions include Opal Creel Scenic Recreation Site, Canyon Creek Recreation Site, and Silver Falls State Park. Campers find the history of the area exciting as natural features like waterfalls, ridges, deep pools and volcanic cliffs altogether tell this story.

Overnight camping opportunities are offered along the North Fork of the Santiam River in the Little North Fork Recreation Area.

RV Rentals in Elkhorn Valley Recreation Site/ Little North Santiam Recreation Area

Transportation

Driving

Elkhorn Valley Recreation Site and North Santiam Recreation Area are located southeast of Salem, Oregon, off State Highway 22 (North Santiam Highway).

If you’re driving to Elkhorn Valley Recreation Site from Salem, drive east along Highway 22 for about 24 miles before turning left on to North Fork County Road. Follow this road for 8.5 miles and you will arrive at the recreation site. In summer, traffic is high on these roads, so ensure you drive carefully. During wet and icy periods, the roads can be slippery, so exercise caution.

North Santiam Recreation Area is located off State Highway, further southeast of the North Fork County Road junction. The recreation area is bordered by the highway on one side and Santiam River on the other.

Guests interested in renting vehicle camping equipment will find RV/motorhome rentals at North Santiam Recreation Area and Salem.

Parking

Parking areas are available around the recreation area and recreation site, but spaces may be limited during peak periods. Ensure you remain on surfaced parking areas and do not park in non-designated parking spots.

Public Transportation

Bus 30X passes near North Santiam Highway offering public transportation services to the area.

Campgrounds and parking in Elkhorn Valley Recreation Site/ Little North Santiam Recreation Area

Campsites in Elkhorn Valley Recreation Site/ Little North Santiam Recreation Area

Reservations camping

Elkhorn Valley Recreation Site

Elkhorn Valley Recreation Site features 23 family campsites equipped with fire pits and barbecue grills, as well as picnic tables. These campsites also have tent pads and designated paved parking spaces. So, vacationers can camp overnight in the campground. Tents and RVs/motorhomes can be accommodated here.

Amenities provided here include potable water, vault toilets, and picnic sites. There are no hookups in the recreation site for RVs and trailers. Due to the tight roads here, vehicles longer than 24 feet cannot be accommodated.

The camping limit in the site is 14 days in every 30-day period. Some of the campsites are available by reservations, while others are on a first-come, first-served basis. Quiet hours are from 10pm to 7am.

Things to do at this recreation site include hunting, hiking, fishing, and picnicking.

First-come first-served

North Santiam State Recreation Campground

North Santiam State Recreation Campground is nestled in a forest setting by the North Santiam River, offering walk-in and boat-in tent sites, all available on a first-come, first-served basis. The campsites are open between May and September.

If you’re staying in any of the nine walk-in sites in this campground, you’ll be able to access, with ease, 10 picnic tables and potable water. A parking area is also accessible to campers in this area.

A reservable group area with picnic shelter has electricity, barbecue stand, firepit, and picnic tables.

Hiking, boating, fishing, and swimming are popular activities here.

Seasonal activities in Elkhorn Valley Recreation Site/ Little North Santiam Recreation Area

In-Season

Hiking

Why not carry your hiking boots as you visit Elkhorn Valley Recreation Site and Little North Santiam Recreation Area to relieve the stress of everyday life by exploring the beautifully wild BLM areas? The vegetative cover in the area offers good shade for all that wish to view the picturesque features that make the park a Mecca for outdoor recreation enthusiasts. You may wish to carry your camera so you don’t miss any moment and keep memoirs that will remain long after you’ve left the BLM park.

Geology and Natural History

Guests that enjoy nature study and observation will find good opportunities at the 112.5 square mile Little North Santiam River watershed that presents a classic example of Cascade Range geology and biology. Moreover, the widespread volcanic flows that occurred in the area between 10 and 17 million years ago led to the formation of basalt and andesite on the high ridges that surround the valleys in the area.

The deep pools, river rapids, cascading waterfalls, and volcanic cliffs further demonstrate the past volcanic action in the area.

Fishing

If you’ve got your fishing gear and tackle, you can set out to fish for salmon, trout, and steelhead in Santiam River. The best time to angle here is during the spring and summer months.

Additional fishing opportunities are open on Detroit Lake. What’s more, the lake offers year-round fishing in the still water. Regardless of your skill level, you should be able to catch rainbow trout, kokanee, brown bullhead catfish, and fingerling rainbow here.

Off-Season

Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area

Opal Creek Scenic Recreation Area is a beautiful old-growth forest commonly visited by guests enjoying a vacation at Elkhorn Valley/Little North Santiam. Around 20,000 visitors come to this recreation area annually, a tribute to the fact that so much is available to enjoy here. This 21 square mile site includes Elkhorn Creek, designated a Wild and Scenic River.

Things to do here include day hiking and backpacking, nature study and photography, as well as enjoyment of solitude and relaxation.

Boating

Water-based recreational activities such as boating, waterskiing, wakeboarding, and sailing are popular sports on Detroit Lake.

Boat ramps are available that offer access to the lake, so all you need is your vessel and you’re good to go. If you wish to visit the areas where the big boats don’t venture to on the lake for a quiet experience, just get your kayak or paddleboard and explore the tiny coves on the lake.

For water skiing and wakeboarding, the best time to visit the lake is early at sunrise and late in the evening at sundown.

Swimming

Santiam Lake is an amazing swimming location with deep swimming holes that are surrounded by vertical cliffs and steep rocky slopes. The clear and transparent water makes it possible for swimmers to see clearly through the water. An added advantage is also the fact that the water is cool, making it pleasurable for swimming.

Detroit Lake also features swimming areas where you can take a dip and take a break from the heat. Note that no lifeguard is on duty at the beach, so be safe as you swim.

Find the perfect campsite.