Kayaking in Oregon

9 Best Places for Kayaking in Oregon – The Beginner’s Guide

Incredibly easy access to fantastic kayaking in Oregon locations can be found if you read this article, which is most renowned for its stunning natural scenery and abundance of rivers, streams, canals, and the Pacific Ocean. It can be challenging to decide which solutions are perfect for beginners & families when there are so many to choose from.

Portland, the capital and largest city of Oregon, is well-known across the world for luring visitors to the area. A popular destination for outdoor pursuits like canoeing and kayaking, the town is bordered by stunning woods, mountains, and rivers. Oregon guarantees you a unique outdoor experience, with activities ranging from night cruises on the glittering Cascade Lakes to explorations at coastal estuaries.

Additionally, Oregon gives you options for creating a unique aquatic journey. Given that paddling in Oregon is an incredible experience for people of all ages and skill levels. Here are the top 10 best places for beginners to kayaking in Oregon to help you if you never heard it before.

10 Tips for Your First Time Kayaking in Oregon

1. Kayak License

If your kayak is more than 10 ft long, you need a license from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. canoes, Rafts, as well as other inflatables, are also allowed by the license. After purchasing it, you may print a copy for each kayak and display it online. The benefit of this permit is that it can be transferred to other non-motorized watercraft.

2. Sit-In Kayaks vs Sit-On-Top Kayaks

You can select between sit-in kayaks and sit-on-top kayaks. The finest kayaks for cool-weather adventures are sit-in models since your lower body is protected within the cockpit. For more water protection, you may install a skirt.

The larger design of sit-on-top kayaks makes them slightly more stable. A sit-on-top kayak is also simple to enter and exit, and due to its adaptability, seasoned, young children, and novice kayakers who paddle in warmer waters are increasingly interested in purchasing them.

I recommend that you should be renting a kayak, to begin with rather than buying one as a beginner.

3. Paddles

Every kind of kayaker can find kayaking paddles that suit them. I spent less than $50 at amazon for mine. Paddles that belonged to my neighbor are about $200 in price. I’ve used hers and, honestly, I can’t tell the difference, although other folks claim it makes a difference.

4. Kayak Sled

Asking your friends to help you transport the kayak might allow you to avoid using a dolly if you intend to kayak with others. You’ll need a boat dolly that you can quickly connect and detach yourself if you often kayak alone or if the parking lot or launch area is a little distance apart. Dollies cost between $50 and $100 online, which is a reasonable price.

5. Kayaking Gloves

Kayaking Gloves

I strongly advise purchasing a set of paddling gloves, unless you want to go on just brief excursions. They are inexpensive to buy at a water sports store and online, which is wonderful news.

6. Flip-flops vs. booties

However, neoprene booties both are durable and will keep your feet toasty if they become wet. You may wear a robust decent pair of water sports flip-flops and water socks. Booties are required if you plan to kayak in chilly water.

7. Water-resistant phone case

Like a transparent dry bag for the phone, a waterproof mobile pouch keeps it dry. You can still use your phone’s camera, and GPS, or even send messages and texts while it’s still in the case since it will keep it dry & tied to you so you don’t lose it.

8. Dry Bag

Dry bag kayaking

A Dry bag is one that keeps your belongings dry even when drenched in water. You may keep a change of clothes, a camera, a water bottle, snacks, and a phone.

9. Life jacket vs Personal Flotation Device

All kayaks in Oregon are required to have one wearable flotation device of Type I, II, or III.

Kayak life vest

Even yet, not all PFDs function as life jackets. The user of a real-life jacket will inevitably tilt backward in the water because they are so buoyant. Stronger swimmers can “help” themselves with personal flotation devices, which are less buoyant and are designed to do so. Your swimming ability and kayaking location will determine the type of PFD you require.

10. Wet Suit Versus Dry Suit

You generally don’t need to wear anything special if you’re just intending to kayak on the hottest summer days. You may want to think about a wet suit, dry suit, or a mix of the two if you want to kayak in cooler weather or want to prolong your kayaking season. The purpose of a wet suit, which is often composed of neoprene in varied thicknesses, is to trap water between the skin and the suit so that it can warm up against the body when submerged in cold water. When submerged in water, a dry suit is made to keep the body totally dry. It has tight rubber gaskets at the neck, wrists, & ankles to keep water away.

There are several types and levels of coverage for both wet and dry suits. You may get a complete suit for really cold winter conditions, go for a sleeveless wet suit in the Farmer John and Farmer Jane design paired with a wet suit and dry suit jacket, or mix and match the wet suit or dry suit tops & bottoms.

Basic Kayak Safety Rules for Beginners

The potential of suffering injuries or perhaps passing away exists with every leisure activity, including kayaking. Make sure you comprehend and always abide by the safety guidelines before you embark on the paddling adventure in Oregon. Make sure you are dressed adequately based on the weather and water temps. As was previously said, when paddling in chilly water, put on a wet or dry suit, and when it’s sunny outside, put on a long-sleeved shirt to shield your skin.

Be aware of the likelihood of off-shore winds, which might make it challenging to get back to the coast. Make sure you adhere to local boating regulations and never go over your boat’s weight limit. Before starting the paddling excursion, check the kayak for any potential wear or damage to make sure everything is in order.

Seek the right assistance if you’re a beginner to master the necessary paddling strokes, first aid skills, and water safety. Before confronting more challenging circumstances, practice self-rescue skills in shallow, calm, & warm waters. Follow Coast Guard regulations, use a personal flotation device (PFD), and have a life vest on board.

You should always let someone know if you plan to go paddling. Give specifics on where you’re going, what you’re going to do, how long it’ll take, & keep to the schedule.

9 Best Places for Beginners to Kayak in Oregon

1. Cathedral Park’s Willamette River

Due to its petrified woods & vast expanses of greenways, the Willamette River is regarded as one of Oregon’s most magnificent gems and a popular location that is excellent for kayaking.

The Willamette River flows past several of Oregon’s biggest cities, including Portland, and is an important tributary of the Columbia River. This river’s calmness makes every stretch perfect for beginners, yet it still offers breathtaking beauty for paddlers of all skill levels to appreciate. The Willamette River provides a number of launching locations. But families and kayaking lovers prefer Cathedral Park’s welcoming, secure, and spotless beach.

You’ll come across a beautiful sandy beach as you head south that can accommodate many parties to enjoy the sun & launch kayaks and paddle boards. Waldo Lake, Oregon’s cleanest lake, supplies the Willamette River with its water. There are over 50 different fish species in the river, including rainbow trout, in addition to being clean.

Watch out for dazzling jasper and petrified wood as you kayak along the river. Ospreys, eagles, & herons are just a few examples of the species that may be seen from the water in the Willamette River. As the river calms & expands through Portland, novice paddlers should stay on the main channel.

In addition to swimming at Poet’s Beach, discovering Powell’s City of Books, and trekking through Forest Park, you may enjoy kayaking on its calm waters throughout the year. Due to the Willamette Valley’s reputation as a premier wine area, paddling on the Willamette River is a fantastic opportunity to sample some of the city’s greatest wines.

2. Deschutes River in Oregon

First on our list is Portland’s neighbor to the east, the lovely Deschutes River. Along with the state’s animals, which include more than 100 bird species, beavers, antelope, and deer, you could also get to see some of the scenery, which is certainly stunning. You could even be fortunate enough to witness a black bear or a bobcat.

But because there are so many rapids throughout its course, this river is not a good place to learn how to kayak. Classes, I through IV are well-represented in terms of ratings, with some of the busier portions during the summer season. Bring your fishing equipment if you want to fish, since salmon and trout are the most frequent species that are caught there.

3. Tualatin River in Oregon

You may reach the Tualatin River by traveling southwest of Portland. It is an 80-mile water route, of which kayakers may reach the bottom 40 miles. Both beginners and more seasoned players will enjoy it. You can see on this map some of the places to stop along the way and where to start your journey.

Given that the river passes through the Tualatin National Wildlife Refuge, a natural sanctuary home to more than 200 kinds of birds, numerous plant species, fish, and other creatures, it’s also one of the greatest kayaking locations for families & wildlife aficionados.

4. Alton Baker Canal in Oregon

In order to dump its contents into the Willamette River, the Alton Baker Canal travels from Springfield through Alton Baker Park. This canal is well-known among kayakers as it is simple for novices and families to complete in a single day. The river is quiet and nearly completely level.

It provides a small pool where people may kayak, swim, and fish. The canal is no wider than Thirty yards and no deeper than Four feet. The most popular fish caught here are trout, making fishing a popular hobby in this region.

5. Chetco River Oregon

The Chetco River is a fantastic option if you’re searching for a more rural lifestyle and rustic kayaking experience. The ideal location for whitewater rafting and kayaking is this secluded, little-known river. As guides & packed boats haven’t yet descended upon it, it’s the ideal location for practicing and honing the kayaking techniques while taking in the wild surroundings.

But even if it takes some walking to get to Chetco, the Twenty miles of Class III and IV rapids that await you at the end are well worth it. The scenery is certainly stunning.

6. Scappoose Bay, Oregon

For beginners and families, Scappoose Bay is a fantastic kayaking location. Canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts can find peace at Scappoose Bay, a system of canals, lakes, and rivers. The bay, just a short distance from Portland’s downtown, is also a haven for wildlife, including a wide variety of fish & bird species that are simple to see from a boat.

Kayak equipment is available for hire directly on the beach. For longer paddles, you may travel a few miles down the Columbia River to St. Helens Marina. You can kayak for three hours in this shallow site, but if you want to enjoy longer paddles, you should do so.

7. Sparks Lake, Oregon

Many people agree that one of the greatest lakes in Oregon for fly fishing is the lovely, quiet Sparks Lake. It is a serene lake perfect for kayaking maneuver practice or for leisurely floating about and taking in breathtaking surroundings.

Thank goodness, motorboats are not permitted here, so you and your fellow kayakers may peacefully & quietly take in this natural treasure. However, during the peak tourist season, it may become quite congested and chaotic, but the wonderful vistas are well worth the effort.

8. The Rogue River

One of the greatest rafting and whitewater paddling locations in the world is the Rogue River. The next paddling excursion may be redefined by the river’s assortment of calm & fast waters.

People at various skill levels can access its waters. The knowledgeable and experienced crowd, however, prefers reliable class III rapids. The Grave Creek Bridge is the preferred launch point for most paddlers. A dramatic ride downstream, propelled by class 3 rapids, may be enjoyed by expert kayakers from here to the spectacular Rainie Falls Rogue River challenge.

Beyond Rainie Falls, beginners may enjoy floating down the river and even have a chance to see bears in the nearby forest. There’s no denying that a day on the Rogue River is exciting. Numerous tour companies are available to provide guided kayaking excursions and aid you in navigating the swiftly flowing river. Keep an eye out for the rapids when you launch your boat at Grave Creek Bridge, then relax and have the exhilarating paddle trip you’ve always desired.

9. Columbia River, Oregon

You may explore Portland by kayak via a different route along the Columbia River. This river runs through the northern portion of the town and serves as the physical boundary between Oregon & Washington State. Despite being on a major shipping path, the river is big and offers lots of opportunities to view nature and wildlife, but you will have to contend with large cargo vessels & speed boats. Even though it’s nearly difficult to take a break here, the Columbia River makes for an excellent kayaking and fishing location.


Q1. How far can a beginning kayaker trip in a day?

You could be willing to paddle for 8 or even 9 hours daily in ideal conditions if everything goes according to plan. Your daily mileage may exceed 16- 18 miles if you move at a speed of 2 miles per hour.

Q2. What are kayaking’s 3 basic tenets?

The following guidelines, when followed, can help you paddle more able to keep you secure on the water: All of the strokes must utilize the strength of torso rotation. A suitable paddling place must be selected. To avoid capsizing, you must have a strategy.

Q3. How much time should you spend paddling the first time?

If you never paddled ever, plan a trip that lasts for no more than 3 hours. Too much effort and taking on more than you may manage are not great ideas. You have ample time, three hours, to determine whether you like kayaking after getting a feel for it. Weather/Water Conditions: Consider choosing another day if the wind is really strong.

Q4. How quickly can newcomers paddle a kayak?

Kayak speeds of around 2 miles per hour are expected to be typical for novice and leisure paddlers. With the typical person needing 20 – 30 min to be allowed to paddle a boat a mile, it is a far more feasible scenario for most of us.

Q5. Is it necessary to be physically fit to go kayaking?

The basic activity of kayaking is frequently done at a leisurely, stress-free pace. It only calls for average general fitness. In reality, those who routinely swim, bike, or hike are already in terrific condition for paddling.


That information on many excellent kayaking spots in Oregon is meant to inspire you. As you can see, there is a ton of interesting variation in the things to see and do. Oregon has something for every kind of kayaker, whether you’re looking for a leisurely day’s kayaking with a family or a fast-paced lap through some of the whitewater rapids.

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