John Day River - Day Use Permits

John Day Wild and Scenic River

The John Day River offers a range of recreational opportunities including boating, fishing, and camping.

See our new John Day River Know Before You Go video!   

Map of John Day River Segments and Segment Descriptions 

Boater Guides are available here. 

An online permit is required year-round

for both day and overnight boating trips within the Wild and Scenic section of the John Day River (Service Creek to Tumwater Falls) and is only available here on Recreation.gov. One permit covers your entire group for the length of the trip and is based on your launch segment.   

LOW SEASON

HIGH SEASON

Launch Segments:

*Trip leaders are required to register at the boat launch. Print the permit and leave the bottom registration section of the permit in the box at the launch kiosk, or hand it to agency personnel if present. Carry the rest of the permit on the river in an accessible location.  

Whitewater boating skills are necessary to navigate all sections of the river. Water levels fluctuate greatly.

Generally, May through early July have the best flows for boating. See the minimum water level recommendations per craft , current water levels , along with short term and long term water level forecasts. Another resource for flow and descriptions is  American Whitewater . As a free flowing river, flows can rise and fall quickly. Make sure to watch the forecast and tie up boats.

A permit system is in place to help protect the John Day River, which is designated as a National Wild and Scenic River and an Oregon State Scenic Waterway . By working together as a community and by practicing Leave No Trace techniques, we can help preserve this precious resource for tomorrow and for future generations.   

For further information, please visit our John Day River website

Permit & Season Information

This permit is for a one-day boating trip. For Overnight Permits click here.  

Permits are unlimited except during High Season which is from: 

Daily Rolling Release: High Season permits are first-come first-served and become available on Recreation.gov at 7am Pacific Time 4 months and 1 month in advance of a given launch date. See the High Season Release Schedule

You cannot print your permit more than 14 days before your trip. Prior to printing your permit, you can cancel directly on Recreation.gov. Once printed, you must email or call the BLM to cancel. Cancelled permits return to the Recreation.gov availability calendar. See Fees/Cancellations. 

Trip leaders or alternates must be present the entire trip. Add alternate trip leaders when first obtaining your permit, they cannot be added later. You can be a trip leader or alternate on 1 overnight permit at a time.

Need to Know

When reserving a permit on this river, I understand that:

Annual Fire Closure

Fires in Firepans Only

Portable Toilet Requirement

Pack It In, Pack It Out

Motorized Boating

Fee Policy

Reservation Fee:

A $6.00 non-refundable reservation fee is required for each permit issued. Only one permit is needed per boating group. Each member of a group must remain with the trip leader while on the river.

Recreation Fee:

A non-refundable recreation fee is due when a reservation is made for trips entering the Wild and Scenic section during the High Season (between Service Creek and Tumwater Falls from May 1- July 15, and between Cottonwood Canyon and Tumwater Falls from Sep 1- Nov 30).  

The recreation fee is $20 per overnight trip per group, or $10 per one-day trip per group. All recreation fees are used directly on the river to help keep launch sites and river campsites clean.

Cancellation Policy

Change Policy:

Cancellation Policy:

Contact Information

Mailing Address

3050 NE 3rd Street Prineville OR 97754

Phone Number

Email: blm_john_day_river@blm.gov, Phone: (541) 416-6700

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