The Chetco River makes its way from tributaries in the Klamath Mountains, flowing 56 miles through the remote southwestern region of Oregon, and finally empties into the Pacific Ocean at Brookings. The river carries minerals from the Upper Chetco River area that have numerous gold-quartz veins and serpentinite rocks.
The lower section of the river has numerous gravel bars with easy access and excellent materials. White quartz and jasper are plentiful here. Rarely carnelian agate, petrified wood, and serpentine can be found.
Typically, quartz is milky-white and some pieces are with mineral impurities. Large pieces of red, green, and brown jasper are scattered throughout the gravels of the river.
One of the sites listed in rockhounding guides, Social Security Bar is a popular recreation area with a vast gravel bar. You can drive directly out to the riverbank. There are many other spots along the lower section of the Chetco where rockhounds may access gravels such as Miller Bar, Nook Bar, Redwood Bar, Gardner Bar, South Fork, and Low Water Bridge.
Other adventures on the Chetco River include fishing, swimming, hiking, whitewater kayaking, camping, and picnicking.
The river’s water is a hot fishing spot popular for the best in the state winter steelhead run that continues from December to February. The fall Chinook salmon fishing season is between September and December.
The river boasts numerous excellent swimming sites in the lower section with easy access to the riverbank. Some of the upper Chetco areas in Kalmiopsis Wilderness might require a tough hike to swimming holes.
Chetco River | General Description
Location: Southern Oregon Coast
Rocks & Minerals: White quartz, jasper, agate
Tools: Gem scoop, collecting bag
Accommodations: Lodging in Brookings, Redwood Bar Campground, Nook Bar Campground, South Fork Campground
Distance from the parking: Short
Road access: Any vehicle
Popularity: Low to moderate