Clackamas River Rafting
Whitewater rafter on Oregon's Clackamas River (courtesy, Port of Portland)
Clackamas River Rafting at a Glance
Price: $
River Rapid Class: II-III+
Trip in Miles: 6 to 13 miles
Trip Duration: 0.5 to 1 day
Season: March-September
Raft Types: Paddle Raft, Oar Raft
Nearby Towns: Estacada (OR)
Gateway City: Estacada (OR)
Driving Times: Portland (OR): 1 hour

"Originating in the Cascade Range, the Clackamas flows through a steep-walled canyon lined with dense forest and basalt crags on its way to the Columbia River near Portland, Oregon. A superb fishery, spectacular scenery, and various recreational activities are its special features. With its genesis in the high alpine tarns of the Cascades' Olallie Butte at 6,000 feet, the river descends and meanders for 83 northwesterly miles towards its confluence with the Willamette River near Oregon City. Its lower 50 miles have been designated as a National Wild and Scenic River, a title that you can see is deserving once you have chanced its waters. Although the main artery of the Clackamas may not be particularly long, its entire river system drains more than 930 square miles southeast of Portland. Much of the river runs through the Mount Hood National Forest.

Wedged in a steeply forested canyon, the river is lined with steel-grey basalt crags and looming stands of old-growth Douglas fir trees. Because it constantly twists and turns in a deep gorge, many sections are shaded by the early afternoon—a relief for boaters and wildlife in the summer months when the sun becomes intense. In the treetops, bald eagles and northern spotted owls can be seen swoop and flitter to and fro. Deer often take refreshments by the riverbanks. And steelhead, coho, and chinook salmon spawn in the tributaries.

Part of the Clackamas's charm is its proximity to Portland, Oregon's most cosmopolitan city and one of the few places in the state where people outnumber trees. Located east from the city in Clackamas County, the river is only an hour's drive from downtown. Although the first portion of the drive is on interstate highways, the last 45 minutes takes you through bucolic villages like Boring and Estacada. After leaving the towns behind, you will pass through golden farmlands with wheat waving in the wind. Beyond that is timber country. If the sky is clear, you will get an eyeful of the God of the Cascades—Mt. Hood.

The Clackamas has many moods. With the tiny town of Estacada serving as the imaginary boundary line between the upper and lower Clackamas, the upper section features non-stop Class II and III action while the lower section smoothes out to a more idyllic pace of Class I and II water. Just before the river flows through Estacada, it pools into North Fork Reservoir, a large lake that is a hot boating spot for urbanites looking for a quick getaway."

Published: 4 May 2011 | Last Updated: 25 Aug 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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