John Day River - Overnight 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!   

An online permit is required year-round for both day and overnight boating trips from Service Creek to Tumwater Falls and is only available here on See our Map of John Day River Segments and click here to learn which permit you need. The links have a description of the launch, take-outs, and dates each permit pertains to. One permit covers an entire group for the length of the trip and is based on launch date and launch segment. Launch date or segment cannot be changed. You do not need more than one permit for your entire trip.  

Purchase a brand new boater guide by calling 541-416-6700 or they are sometimes available here. 

Parties 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 on your launch day. 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. May through late June often have the best water. The John Day is a free-flowing desert river; levels can change quickly! Check flow and weather forecasts. Tie up boats and strap down anything that can blow away! All boat ramps are primitive, and the river flows through a mix of public and private lands. Make sure to carry a map and do some research before the trip. 

Visit our BLM John Day River website for more information. See the know before you go section for recommended water levels per craft, short term, and long term flow forecasts along with safety tips and more! Click here for information on launch sites and BLM campgrounds in the area. 

Waterway Access Permit Exemption: On the John Day Wild and Scenic River an Oregon Waterway Access Permit is not required during High Season from Service Creek to Tumwater Falls but is required during Low Season. Please visit the Oregon State Marine Board website for further information. Help lessen the spread of invasive species by limiting travel through infested areas and by cleaning and drying watercraft .

Permit & Season Information

This permit is for an Overnight boating trip. For Day Use 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 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 Once printed, you must email or call the BLM to cancel. Cancelled permits return to the 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 (June 1 - Oct 15)

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

Prineville District Office 3050 NE 3rd Street Prineville OR 97754

Phone Number

Email:, Phone: (541) 416-6700

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