Wednesday, December 7, 2022


Free Winchester Fish Ladder on the North Umpqua River, off Exit 129 on I-5 in Oregon

Near the Fish Ladder (left) Mary Jane Huber & John Winnicki from Virginia & Jimmy Smith.

If you find yourself heading north or south this autumn along I-5 near Exit 129 in Oregon, pull off for a few minutes to stretch your legs at the Winchester Fish Ladder … and maybe, just maybe, be amazed by watching migrating steelhead and salmon swim upstream to spawn in their home streams along the North Umpqua River watershed.

Dam and fish ladder (Julianne G. Crane)

According to Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife: “Biologists use the fish counts to monitor populations, make management decisions, and recommend angling regulations. A video camera records fish passage, and a technician views the tapes to record species and size, fin clips, and any predator marks. The primary species of anadromous fish counted at Winchester Dam are summer and winter steelhead, spring chinook salmon, and coho salmon.”

This is a great family stop … especially for kids of all ages, including RVer Jimmy Smith and my cousins Mary Jane Huber and John Winnicki from Floyd, Va.

Children viewing Chinook going up the fish ladder. (Julianne G. Crane)

On the day we visited, there were young families with children who were delighting in the sightings of salmon swimming against the river’s flow.

“Depending on where they enter the ladder,” states one of the signs also the stairway, “the fish will have nine to 11 additional pools to negotiate….each pool also has a slow water eddy in at least one corner where the fish can rest.  With moving and resting, it takes most fish about one hour to make the journey through the ladder.”

Be aware that there is a series of very steep stairs to and from the fish viewing area that could be a challenge for some. While there is NO handicap access to the viewing room, the dam can be observed from the top of the stairs where there is extensive signage explaining the North Umpqua River drainage area.

Winchester Bridge from viewing area (Julianne G. Crane)


The Winchester Fish Ladder underwater viewing area is located just east of I-5 on Hwy. 99, about three miles north of Roseburg, Ore.

Take exit 129 and head east. Turn right (south) on Hwy. 99. The viewing area parking lot is located on the left, just before the Winchester Bridge.

It can be easy to miss coming from the north on Hwy. 99, as there is only a “fish viewing” sign on the left with a small parking lot, however there is room for RVs.

BTW: Just south across the Winchester Bridge is a small community with a decent restaurant,  Mom and Pop grocery store and post office.

Julianne G. Crane

To read more posts on the RV Lifestyle by Julianne Crane, go to 

Click on photos to enlarge.

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