McKenzie River Discovery Center

Located in Walterville, Oregon, the McKenzie River Discovery Center will be a world-class destination offering transformational experiences through educational displays of historic artifacts, interactive exhibits, interpretive nature trails and more, focused on three main areas:

Geology and Hydrology: Volcanic activity 3-10 million years ago created enormous underground lava chambers that became the underground reservoir giving rise to the McKenzie. The McKenzie River is one of the largest “spring creeks” in the world, with its unique hydrology keeping the water steadily flowing at extremely cold temperatures and high volumes, which filters the water naturally. It is now one of the last places where species of threatened salmon and trout can be found.

Cultural History: For about 8,000 years, the McKenzie River valley has been home to the Mollala and Kalapuya tribes among others, who visited and lived in the area for its abundance of fish, game, berries and obsidian. In modern times, the river has captivated anglers drawn to the promise of world-class fishing opportunities. The McKenzie River Drift Boat, developed specifically for fishing on its namesake river, is famous among river and fishing enthusiasts, and is now used worldwide. These ground-breaking boats and subsequent guide culture have significantly influenced the world of white water fishing.

Fish and Ecology: The McKenzie is revered for its native “redside” rainbow trout, bull trout and spring Chinook salmon. One of the last places these species are found, they are foremost magnets, drawing and shaping human culture for centuries. The river’s pristine riparian habitat also supports summer steelhead, sensitive amphibian species, river otters, osprey and more.