News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Fishermen’s Bend expands day-use options

The Fishermen’s Bend recreation area, which was scorched badly by the 2020 wildfires, is reopening some day-use areas, markedly expanding the public’s ability to use the park.

Starting today, the River Loop Trail, the Cottonwoods Shelter and seven nearby picnic sites with tables and barbecues, will be open to the public at the Bureau of Reclamation (BLM) site near Mill City. More portable toilet facilities, parking and expanded river access also will be available.

Previously, just a small day-use area with a boat ramp was open, partly to keep in place the river-wide system of put-in and put-out spots for kayakers and rafters on the North Santiam. The ramp reopened in the spring of 2022.

“We understand that Fishermen’s Bend is an important recreational area for both local residents and visitors,” said Amanda Hoffman, BLM Cascades Field Manager, in a statement issued via a press release. “We’re excited to provide expanded access while continuing the hard work of rebuilding the site.”

BLM crews will continue to remove post-fire hazard trees and debris from the 170-acre facility. No word was available regarding when other areas of the park might re-open, including its sizable camping facilities. 

Sarah Bennett, a public affairs officer with the BLM, told The Canyon Weekly that the agency is planning a public outreach process that will precede further openings. No dates or times have been set, she said. 

With the addition of the day-use amenities, the BLM also will begin charging a day-use fee of $5 per vehicle (for up to nine passengers), $10 for vans (10-19 passengers) and $20 for a bus with 20 or more passengers. 

Any commercial use requires a special recreation permit (see . The Cottonwoods Shelter is reservable at recreation.gov. 

The seven picnic sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Fishermen’s Bend will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. through the summer months, with a variety of open/closed times in place this fall and winter.

The open areas represent a small slice of the facility’s 170 acres, with the rest of the park fenced off and closed to public entry. Visitors should be aware that one of the effects of the Labor Day fires was the almost complete elimination of the tree cover in the park. Shade will be at a premium and picnickers should consider packing portable umbrellas, small shade tents or canopies.

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