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Visit Bull Run watershed

Service
Bull Run watershed tours offer the unique chance to see firsthand how Portland's drinking water travels from forest to faucet.
  1. Register online

  2. Complete waiver to bring with you

    Prior to the tour, please fill out and bring the Bull Run tour waiver with you, along with photo ID.

  3. What to expect

    During the tour, a professional natural resources educator leads participants through the Bull Run Watershed, discussing Portland's drinking water sources and system.

    Here's how a typical tour proceeds:

    8:15

    • Meet the bus in Portland
    • Visit the Columbia South Shore Well Field, the city’s groundwater source
    • Walk through old-growth forest in the upper reaches of the Bull Run Watershed
    • Eat lunch at Bull Run Lake, the headwaters of the Bull Run River
    • Tour the city’s 1929 concrete dam, plus the house of one of the engineers who worked on it
    • Drive across the city’s 1962 earth and rock fill dam
    • Visit the lower Bull Run River and learn about the fish that live there

    4:30

    • Arrive in Portland

    Essentials to be aware of:

    • Meeting location: We'll provide the exact location after you have reserved your seat. Most tours meet in inner Northeast Portland.
    • Cost: $20 (+$1.69 service fee)
    • Signup: One person can register up to six people. Please be prepared to provide all participants' names.
    • Refunds: If you need to cancel your registration, you can receive a refund if you give at least three days' notice. If you need to cancel closer to the date itself, we'd appreciate if you let us know (your cancellation might allow someone else to attend) but we can't offer a refund.
    • Repeat visits: If you've recently attended a Bull Run tour, please consider waiting a few years before signing up again. This allows more space for those who haven’t yet had the opportunity. 
    • Questions? Please email waterbureaueducation@portlandoregon.gov or call Kate Leatherbarrow at 503-823-5351. Also see the frequently asked questions.
    • How to prepare: Learn how to prepare for the tour.

    The tour area is remote. Water Bureau staff carry emergency radios and are trained in first aid; however, cell phones do not work and emergency care can be more than an hour away.

    Restrooms can be up to two to three hours apart. Please contact us if limited restroom availability presents a challenge for you.

    Smoking/vaping/e-cigarettes are not allowed.

    All information is intended for a general audience. If you're a teacher interested in Bull Run tours, check out our school programs.

    If you’d like for us to let you know when we post future tour dates, sign up for our notification list.