McKenzie River Watershed

  • Approximately 70 percent of the watershed is public land managed by the U.S. Government. 
  • About 39 percent of this land is the Three Sisters Wilderness.
  • Over 96 percent of the basin is forestland,
  • and just under 4 percent is in agricultural use—primarily orchards and farms on the lower floodplain.  
  • Industrial and residential make up the remainder of the land at under 1 percent.

Elevation Range: 10,358 ft. at South Sister to the mouth at 371 ft.

Length:    90 mi 

Basin size:    1,300 sq miles.  The entire Willamette River drainage basin  is 11,478 sq miles.  This is approximately 8.8% of the Willamette River watershed.

Discharge water volume: Second largest tributary to the Willamette River based on water volume out of the 11 major tributaries.  The Santiam River Watershed just to the north is the largest.  The Middle Fork of the Willamette just to the south is next (3rd) largest.
McKenzie River water is the sole water source for Eugene (EWEB) and it is sources at river mile 11 in Springfield (Hayden Bridge).  Springfield gets it's water from wells.
National Wild and Scenic River designation on October 28, 1988 as  “Recreational”


The McKenzie River is the source of Eugene's drinking water. Lots of development is taking place on this river due to the recent wildfires. This video shows the downside of that development.