Head of the Metolius – Camp Sherman, Oregon - Atlas Obscura

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Head of the Metolius

Camp Sherman, Oregon

Approximately 50,000 gallons of water gush from these springs, creating the Metolius River.  


At this spot north of Black Butte the Metolius River flows from an underground spring. Water gushes from beneath the ground at a rate of 50,000 U.S. gallons per minute (190,000 liters per minute). At the viewing area, you can see the springs just below you, and look downstream to the fully-formed river flowing away to the north. 

The exact source of the springs is unknown, but it may originate near Black Butte Ranch, south of Black Butte. The springs are believed to have been created about 1.5 million years ago when Black Butte erupted and blocked a north-flowing river. With the natural channel blocked water back up south of Black Butte. The water made its way through porous rocks beneath the butte and emerged on the north side at the site of the spring.

Today, the Metolius is one of the country’s largest spring-fed rivers. Its name comes from the Warm Springs or Sahaptin word mitula, which can be translated as “white salmon.”

Know Before You Go

From Camp Sherman drive three miles south on Road 14.

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December 9, 2021

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