The Pacific NW offers many great places to river SUP. Hala ambassador Luke Spencer details some of his go-to rivers in Oregon. While flows are paramount when deciding where and when to paddle, all of Spencer’s favorite runs can be paddled year round! It is the primary reason he calls the Pacific Northwest home.
Oregon Summer Runs – We all love paddling when the sun’s out, but for those that paddle in the NW we all know the best time to paddle is November through June. While there are certainly places to hit in July, August, and September, best paddling by far definitely occurs in the fall, winter, and spring. In spite of this, if you’re set on getting some sun rays, here are a few options:
Deschutes River: Head to the city of Maupin for sun, good flows, and plenty of class III all summer on the Deschutes River. Bend, less than two hours south and downstream, offers river surfing at the famous Bend Whitewater Park. Don’t miss out on the local craft beer after your session!
Clackamas River: Accessed in an hour or less out of Portland on the west side of the Cascades, the Clack offers crystal clear water, evergreens, and a variety of runs suited to everyone’s needs. For paddleboarders seeking the quintessential feel of the Pacific Northwest, the Clackamas is a must.
North Santiam: Flowing out of Detroit Reservoir from the western slope of the Cascade Mountains, the North Santiam provides adequate summer levels. Enjoy fun class II-III by putting in at Packsaddle Park and making your way down to Mill City to end with a bang over Mill City Falls. Continue downstream below Fisherman’s Access for a relaxing class II stretch.
Rainy Season Runs – Grab your thick wetsuit or drysuit and explore what the rainy season has to offer: less exposed rocks, great river surfing, and plenty of variety.
Sandy River: Winding down from the slopes of Mt. Hood, the Sandy offers beginner to expert paddling and beautiful scenery. For fun, check out class II-III Revenue Bridge to Dodge Park run. For scenery, float the class II Dodge Park to Oxbow Park stretch.
Hood River: When the water is high and rising, you’ll find locals from the Gorge area descending towards the town of Hood River on their boards. Here, a consistent gradient provides plenty of action that differs from many of the other more pool drop runs in Oregon.
Molalla River: The Molalla is possibly one of the most scenic rivers that you’ll have all to yourself. On the Three Bears run, columnar basalt decorates the canyon walls while fun and challenging pool drop rapids stair step their way down to the takeout. Below the Three Bears are multiple class II stretches and with a little, local beta river waves that shouldn’t be hard to find.
Wilson River: Located in the Northern Coast Range with an annual average rainfall greater than any other spot in Oregon (and that’s saying something), the Wilson really does have it all. An unmatched landscape, awesome class II-IV stretches, and some of the best river surfing in the NW!
Spring, summer, fall or winter – if your hunting for paddling in Oregon it’s hard to miss. With rivers running year around paddlers rarely leave disappointed.
Luke Spencer is a Hala Team Rider.