Originating from the northern Oregon Coast Range, Nestucca River ambles along at a controlled pace as a result of the man-made McGuire Reservoir. The building of the reservoir and dam has made the river a perfect water body for swimming and other water-based recreational activities.
The river flows past various beautiful spots. In Alder Glen, the scenic view consists of alder and maple trees lining the river, leaning over as if whispering to the calm waters. Nestucca River continues down several BLM lands and multiple campgrounds that in unison make up the Nestucca River Recreation Area.
The river isn’t the only scenic beauty here. Moss-covered trees and forest floors also offer a perfect backdrop in this quiet and gorgeous vacation spot, allowing visitors to unwind and relax in this timeless Oregon forest destination.
Nestucca River Recreation Area offers visitors easy access to these calm waters, as well as the opportunity to camp close to its banks. BLM campgrounds allow you to choose a campsite of your liking from campgrounds like Elk Bend, Dovre, Fan Creek, and Alder Glen Recreation Sites.
The campgrounds boast a total of 37 campsites, some right on the river, some deeper into the forest, and some situated uphill, overlooking the river. Visitors also get to enjoy hiking, picnicking, OHVs, and numerous water activities at the Nestucca River Recreation Area.
Nestucca River Recreation Area is about a 40-minute drive from Munson Creek Falls State Natural Site and about a half-hour drive from Wiliamina, Oregon. If you are approaching the site from Wiliamina, take Williamina Creek Road and on to Coast Creek Road. Keep going past Gilbert Creek Road, then to Bald Mountain Road and eventually Bible Creek Road that will lead you right to the Nestucca Byway. Stay on the Byway and you’ll see the sign pointing towards Nestucca River Recreation Area.
From Carlton, Oregon, the Nestucca River Recreation Area is only an hour away. If that happens to be your route, take Meadow Lake Road and drive west for twelve miles straight to get to the Nestucca Byway.
At the Nestucca River Recreation Area, you get to choose from four campgrounds. Campsites at these BLM campgrounds can be attained on a first-come, first-served basis. Fire rings or BBQ grills are provided at each campsite. However, you cannot pick the firewood from anywhere in the Recreation Area. Pack your trash and throw it in a dumpster.
Alder Glen Campground is named after the alder trees that line the river in this area. This campground is disconnected and provides the charm of both the river and the forest. This campground boasts 11 campsites, nine of which are situated along the river. Amenities include a small pump house for running water and two vault toilets.
You won’t find any dumpsters here or garbage collecting service, so make sure to pack the trash and take it with you to dump into the nearest dumpster. The maximum RV length at this campground is 26 feet. Pets are welcomed.
Dovre Campground boasts a total of ten campsites and a day-use group shelter. This campground is more primitive in nature and provides direct access to the river for swimming and other water-related activities. Located close to the campground are multiple roads that are good for mountain biking.
This campground is at the side of the hill and slightly higher than the river’s level. The maximum RV length at this campground is 30 feet. Pets are welcomed.
Nestucca River is teeming with a variety of fish species and the Nestucca River Recreation Area ensures that visitors have a comfortable fishing dock to take advantage of these rich waters. All along the river, at multiple BLM sites, one can find well-developed fishing docks, some of which are also ADA accessible. Prized fish species that are most commonly found in these placid river waters include steelhead trout and chinook salmon.
In the Nestucca Backcountry Byway, there is a developed Nestucca OHV Area for visitors who enjoy a bit of off-roading, whether it be on mountain bikes or ATVs. This OHV trail system is divided into three staging areas; Whipup Flat, Elk Flat, and Grassy Flat. The trail system is diverse and has something for everyone. From smooth and flat grounds to steep and rugged surfaces, you can find it all here.
Nestucca River Recreation Area offers a beautiful swimming hole hidden in the Oregon Woods. Visitors can find this swimming hole in Alder Glen, where the river current is relaxed and the water has more depth, creating the perfect place for an outdoor swim. No lifeguards are present at the premises so make sure you keep an eye out for the others and use the buddy system.
While this waterfall has no official name, it is popularly known as Alder Glen Falls. This waterfall that flows into the Nestucca River is relatively small and acts differently in different seasons. During the winters, the falls are wide and heavy enough to obscure a broad ledge, but in summer the waterfall itself is obscured by the undergrowth. Sometimes, the river is running so low that anyone can ford the river to the falls.
There’s something to be said about enjoying a picnic in a wooded area close to the river banks. Surrounded by greenery and located a tad off the beaten track with a running stream upfront, and a waterfall a few steps away, you couldn’t wish for a better spot to have a picnic.
If you love to read books, enjoy snacks, or simply wish to relax in Oregon’s outdoor grandeur, then this is where you should set up your next picnic blanket and basket.
Make sure to end your trip to the Nestucca River Recreation Park with Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge. This wildlife refuge is home to peregrine falcons and bald eagles, to Aleutian Canada geese, green-winged teal, American Wigeon, northern shoveler, bufflehead, and numerous other species that have found habitat at the Nestucca Bay.