Though water constitutes only eight percent of its total area, Portland still features long and beautiful bodies of water perfect for kayaking. It was nicknamed "Bridgetown" for its twelve architecturally and intricately built bridges crossing its rivers. If you’re looking to do some paddling in the beautiful Northwest, grab your Portland kayak rental and hit up on of our top places to kayak in Portland.
One of the two rivers that passes through Portland, the Columbia River is the fourth largest river in the US and is full of salmon, which you can watch through the clear water. A 20-minute drive from downtown Portland will take you to the Columbia River Gorge, which consists of 80 miles of cliffs and waterfalls. This Gorge also has spectacular vistas, numerous hiking trails and scenic bike routes. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can kayak in white water rapids on the nearby Hood or Wind Rivers. If just getting the boat is adventurous enough for you, stay on the Columbia and enjoy the sunset!
The Willamette River turns into a recreational waterway during summertime that is perfect for kayaking. Going right through downtown Portland, the Willamette allows you to be in the city and the great outdoors simultaneously. Aside from kayaks, the Willamette is also filled with Chinese dragon boats and jet skis. Drop in near the Hawthorne Bridge, which is the oldest vertical-lift bridge in operation and the oldest highway bridge in Portland. You can then paddle south about two miles to go around Ross Island to complete one of the most popular routes on the Willamette!
Calling all bird watchers out there! Visit this 2,000 acre public park and nature reserve just between the Columbia Slough and the Columbia River in Portland, Oregon and witness bird diversity at its finest while kayaking. If seeing flying creatures aren’t enough, try looking for cute but elusive nutrias and beavers as you paddle. Difficulty of paddling will depend on water levels, which is also affected by the weather.
Just an hour southeast of Portland, this river is known for kayaking and whitewater rafting. Since this river could be intense based on the section and on the season, it is recommended to have a tour guide, unless you are already an experienced kayaker. Camping may also be done in the area.