• Sixes River is popular among recreational gold prospectors
• Most of the river banks are private besides a few public access
The scenic Sixes River starts its way in the Rogue-River Siskiyou National Forest and flows over thirty miles west through the dense coastal forest and finally enters the Pacific Ocean 5 miles north of Port Orford at Cape Blanco. Two-thirds of the watershed is private land including the first 16 miles of the lower part with public access through the Cape Blanco State Park at the mouth and Edison Creek Campground and Day-Use Area.
Most of the upper river area is under mine claims and many roads have locked gates by private logging companies.
Managed by the U.S. Forest Service, a couple of miles of the upper river banks offer public access. This is one of the places you can enjoy the river's serenity and beautiful nature, swimming, and a variety of other outdoor activities.
The unique name of the river has different versions of its origin. Some sources claim it was named after the leader of the local First People's clan. Others state that the name comes out of the Chinook language and means "friend". Another version of the name comes from one of the Kwatami tribe's names meaning "people by the far north country".
Sixes River Gold Panning & Rockhounding
In the mid-1800s, rich gold placer deposits were found on the Sixes River. Numerous early settlers arrived in the area to try their fortune. Nobody of them became rich but many of them earn enough for a good living. The town of Summersville with a general store, a tavern, twelve houses, and small logging bushiness was founded. With the Great Depression and depletion of the placer deposits, the town became abandoned and now not even ruins remain.
Traces of gold is still found in the river attracting multiple visitors. Gold panning and rockhounding for recreation purposes are allowed without permits on most BLM and U.S. Forest Service lands, just make sure you are not accidentally trespassing on private lands.
Recreational mining is restricted from fall to mid-summer due to salmon spawning in the Sixes. Mining dates and regulations are subject to change. Contact the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to find out more.
The river's bank and its bottom are composed of gravel and rocks of various sizes and colors. White quartz, green jasper, red brecciated jasper, agate, and petrified wood can be found here.
Sixes River Swimming & Other Water Activities
This is a gorgeous coastal river with clear and relatively calm water in summer. Swimming, boating, kayaking or simply splashing in the water with kids is a perfect pastime at one of a few spots with public river access. The water is cool even at the peak of summer heat (65°F in August).
Sixes River Fishing
Sixes River is the best for catching fall wild chinook and coho salmon as well as winter steelhead and resident cutthroat trout. The fishing is restricted to the lower 16 miles and bank access is limited. Always check deadlines and current fishing regulations for the Sixes.
Cape Blanco Lighthouse & State Park
Cape Blanco State Park provides access to the Sixes River at its mouth as well as to ocean beaches south and north of Cape Blanco. The park boasts over 400 years of recorded history and scenic beauty of the coastal nature.
There are over eight miles of hiking trails, a 150-acre horse riding area, a campground, an early Irish settler's house, and Cape Blanco Lighthouse which is the oldest, windiest, and westernmost light station in Oregon.
Edison Creek Campground & Recreation Area
Edison Creek Campground and Recreation Area sit at the creek entering the Sixes River. This area has 27 campsites and 5 reservable group sites with enough space for up to 25 people each. The campground has picnic tables, fire rings, accessible toilets, and drinking water.
Swimming, fishing, picnicking, and boating are popular past times here. The campground has a boat ramp.
Elephant Rock Creek Bridge
This scenic and secluded destination at the junction of Elephant Rock Creek and the Sixes is a perfect roadside swimming hole. Public land begins at the eastern side of the bridge over the Elephant Rock Creek. Park your car and find a short trail to the river.
This truly unique site features beautiful rock formations and clear emerald-green water. If your intention is not just wading and enjoying the river, you can swim in a deep swimming hole at the huge rock in the middle of the river.
GPS: N 42°48.303' W 124°19.299' | 42.805050, -124.321650
Sixes River Recreation Site
Sixes River Recreation Site is a small campground managed by the BLM. The area has 19 campsites with picnic tables and fire rings for each spot, drinking water, and toilets.
In addition to camping and picnicking, the river access allows for swimming, fishing, and gold panning.
Warning! Be mindful of poison oak as well as wildlife like cougars, bobcats, and bears which occasionally can be encountered here.