Finn Rock Landing Reopens on the McKenzie River

Conservation Director, Eli Tome, launches his raft at Finn Rock Landing following a $850,000 improvement project.

McKenzie River recreationists are celebrating the re-opening of the Finn Rock Landing on the McKenzie River. One of the more popular launches for the McKenzie River’s whitewater opportunities, the Finn Rock Landing serves thousands of visitors annually. The site was developed years ago by Rosboro Lumber Company and managed for the community in collaboration with the McKenzie River Guides Association. The landing and 278 acres of adjacent floodplain lands were acquired by the local nonprofit McKenzie River Trust in 2015. Elizabeth Goward, Community Engagement Manager with the Trust, shares that “Finn Rock Landing has connected thousands of people to the McKenzie. Once you leave the land and slow down to the pace of the river, you gain a renewed appreciation of how incredible this area is and how important it is to be a good caretaker of land and water. These connections between people and the natural world are critical for ensuring that people continue to care for and invest in the health of our environment.”

Early facility upgrades included the installation of a vault toilet in 2018. Now, visitors will find several ADA parking spaces and universally accessible pathways leading to the river.

The larger Finn Rock Reach area was purchased at auction for $1.55 million using private donations and a low-interest bridge loan. To pay off the loan, begin habitat restoration, and care for the land long term, the Trust carried out a $4.8 million capital campaign in 2017-18, garnering support from more than 400 community members and local businesses, the Eugene Water and Electric Board, the Bonneville Power Administration, and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). In 2018, the Trust began work to improve the landing. Utilizing funding from ODFW, they installed ADA parking, lighting, and a vault toilet. During this time, they conducted surveys of river users to better understand what was missing from the area to better serve individuals, community organizations, and professional guide companies.

The improved landing was designed based on community feedback in partnership with Cameron McCarthy Landscape Architects. Work was completed by Delta Sand and Gravel Company and included creating defined parking spaces, pedestrian safety routes, places to gather out of traffic, and installing bird-friendly lighting. “The most exciting part of this project is the incorporation of Universal Design principles,” observed Zane Wheeler with the City of Eugene. “Every summer, through our Adaptive Recreation Program, we bring dozens of people who use mobility aids such as wheelchairs to the river to take advantage of our special rafting equipment. Having accessible infrastructure, including ADA parking and ramps, is an important step forward in creating a more equitable outdoor experience.”

The landing project, which cost around $850,000, was funded with grants from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department’s Recreational Trails Program, Lane County Parks bond measure, and private donations. Access continues to be free of charge, and McKenzie River Trust looks to community members to help in its stewardship. “People and land need each other,” remarks Goward. “At Finn Rock Reach, we’re relying on people not to leave garbage and to help pick it up when they see it.” The landing is open year-round from dawn to dusk for people to launch non-motorized watercraft and access the McKenzie River for fun and fishing.