Elk, Oregon, US
|Usual Difficulty||III-IV (for normal flows)|
A great roadside run on the Wild and Scenic Elk River for the class IV paddler. Can be split into two runs with an upper run from Butler Creek to Purple Mountain and a lower run from Purple Mountain down to the Fish Hatchery.
The upper run is class II and III with one class IV. The lower run features about 5 class IV's, two harder than the rest. One of the big ones is visible from the road, but most of the others are not that easy to see. High water quality with good gradient and a tight gorge. There is camping year round along the river, making this a good weekend option when other small stream around Oregon may be running a little low.
There is a good trip report linked below, with a neat video about the conservation of the area. This is really one of Oregon's special places.
For flows, call this number: (541) 332-0405. 3' is about the minimum recommended level as of 2016. The right bank near the gauge is all sediment, so this gauge may vary slightly year to year.
We ran this river on Sunday (Jan 3, 2016) at 3.3'. Thursday the recording said flows were at about 4', Friday at 3.8', Saturday at 3.6', then the morning we ran the river the recording just said it was "low". We checked the physical gauge after our run and had 3.3' which we felt was a nice flow for the run. It could be more enjoyable higher, but could also be good a little lower. 5.5' is also a good flow according to Soggy Sneakers. The river is similar to the Smith's, and like the Smith's, can be run at a wide range of flows without a large fluctuation in difficulty.