Alfred Loeb State Park - Chetco River Swimming

• Chetco River swimming is a popular summer activity in summer
• The lower river features large gravel bars, a slow current, and warm water

SwimmingRockhounding OregonBoatingFishing OregonHiking Oregon

The Chetco River collects its water from tributaries in the Klamath Mountains within Rogue River Siskiyou National Forest. The river flows 56 miles through remote Southwestern Oregon, and finally meets the Pacific Ocean at Brookings, the southernmost coastal town of the state. The river was named after Chetco Native Americans who originally lived at the river mouth.

Headwaters and 44 miles of the upper segment are designated as Wild & Scenic. This remote and secluded section of the Chetco is known for its high concentration of rare plants, outstanding water quality, and plenty of Class III, IV, and IV+ rapids. Northwest Rafting Company offers five days of guided whitewater rafting expeditions through the wild river sections.

The 11 miles of the lower part of the Chetco is a recreational section.

Swimming, boating, kayaking or simply splashing in the water with kids is a perfect pastime at one of many sites along the river. 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.

Chetco River Swimming

The lower section of the river is getting wide and slow that making it relatively safe for swimming in the summer months. This gorgeous coastal river features sand and gravel bars and clear turquoise water with temperatures up to 80°F at the peak of summer heat.

The bank is composed of pebbles and cobbles. There are shallows and depths allowing to wade and swim. Jumping spots can be found along the river as well. Salamanders are common in shallow water.

On a hot summer day, the warm and calm pristine waters of the Chetco attract numerous people especially families with young children.

Some areas of the upper Chetco also have excellent swimming holes but because of the mountainous terrain, a tough hike to the river banks is often required.

Chetco River Fishing

The Chetco River is ranked as one of the best in Oregon for the winter steelhead run. Winter steelhead shows up from December through March. Besides steelhead, Chinook salmon, resident and sea-run cutthroat trout are present. You can fish off of the gravel bar or off of a drift boat.

Chetco Bay provides opportunities to catch salmon, steelhead, rockfish, perch, halibut, and crab for both bank and boat anglers.

Chetco River Rockhounding

The lower section of the river is known for huge gravel bars lining its banks. Large-sized quartz, jasper, and agate are abundant here. Sometimes, carnelian agate, petrified wood, and serpentine can be found as well.


Alfred Loeb State Park - Chetco River SWimming
Rock Jumping
Alfred Loeb State Park - Chetco River Swimming
Alfred Loeb State Park
Miller Bar - Chetco River
Miller Bar
Chetco River Swimming
Chetco River Swimming

Chetco River Campgrounds & Day-Use Areas

North Bank Road provides great bank and boat access. If you are driving to gravel bars, a four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended. A few spots along the river, which are suitable for many water activities including swimming, tubing, boating, fishing, and rockhounding are listed below.

Social Security Bar

Located four miles from Highway 101, the Social Security Bar offers public access to the river and the large gravel bar connected to it. There are no facilities on-site.

GPS: N 42°3.853' W 124°13.799' | 42.064221, -124.229976

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Alfred A. Loeb State Park

Alfred A. Loeb State Park sits in a Myrtlewood grove, the southernmost Myrtlewood habitat in Oregon. Riverview Nature and Redwood Nature Trails provide opportunities to explore unique Redwood and Myrtlewood forests.

This is a popular place for splashing and other water activities in summer and fishing during colder times of the year.

Miller Bar

Managed by US Forest Service, Miller Bar Campground and Day Use Area is a dispersed site along a vast gravel bar of the Recreation section of the Chetco, 2.8 miles upstream from Alfred A. Loeb State Park. There are shallows on the edge of gravel bars as well as depths along the opposite river bank. There is a vault toilet and no drinking water.

GPS: N 42°8.347' W 124°10.742' | 42.13911, -124.17903

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Nook Bar

Nook Bar Campground and Day-Use Area is a large gravel area along the Recreation section of the Chetco, 1.5 miles upstream from Miller Bar. There are depth and shallows. There is a vault toilet and no drinking water.

GPS: N 42°8.770' W 124°9.429' | 42.146171, -124.157142

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Elephant Rock

Elephant Rock is is a basalt lava formation jutting into the water. The river bends at this point and creates a deep hole at the base of the rock. This area is popular for cliff jumping and swimming opportunities. The opposite bank consists of gravel and pebbles.

From a small turnout, hike down to the river on a steep trail. This place is about 0.6 miles from Nook Bar.

GPS: N 42°8.839' W 124°8.776' | 42.14731, -124.14626

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Redwood Bar

Redwood Bar Campground and Day Use Area is one of many recreation areas on the Chetco River. It sits for about one mile upstream from Nook Bar. This site features a large gravel bar with camping right by the river, clear water, as well as shallows and depths, clear water, shallows and depth. There is a vault toilet and no drinking water.

GPS: N 42°9.327' W 124°8.724' | 42.155450, -124.145401

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Adventures Nearby

Directions to Chetco River Sites

From Highway 101 in Brookings

  • Turn north to North Bank Chetco River Road and then bear right staying on North Bank Chetco River Road
  • Travel 3.2 miles northeast to Social Security Bar on the right
  • Follow the next 8 miles to Miller Bar
  • Continue 3.4 miles to Redwood Bar.


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