Finding Your Next Portland SUP Adventure
Portland has some great waterways to enjoy on a hot summer day. The scenic Willamette River has long been a favorite spot for boaters, fishermen, kayakers, and river floaters. Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) is a newer sport that has become increasingly popular for recreational river users. In recent years the number of paddle boarders on the river has grown exponentially.
A SUP board is a relatively low investment, inflatable technology makes them super easy to transport and it offers a fun way to get out on the water. It is also a great full-body workout!
Our knowledgeable staff has put together this helpful guide to show you some of the best areas around Portland to go stand-up paddle boarding. Continue reading to find out our four top picks!
A favorite stretch of the Willamette River for many stand-up paddlers. This section of the Willamette River is just upstream from the Willamette Falls and features rocky cliffs and tiny islands on each side of the river to explore. Wakesurfing is prohibited on this stretch, making it a great paddling spot. The calm waters during the summer season make it a smooth, easy paddle with some amazing views.
The recommended launch point is Willamette Park in West Linn. The park is 15+ acres and sits right where the Tualatin and Willamette River meet. It is a great spot to hang out for the day with picnic shelters, restrooms, volleyball courts a playground and much more.
Another local gem. Part of a cluster of four islands approximately one mile upriver from Downtown Portland. The loop around the island is right around five miles, making it a great spot for anyone who wants to get out on the water but is limited on time. One of our favorite spots to hit on a weekday after a full days work. This spot combines natural scenery with some great views of Downtown Portland.
The recommended launch point is Willamette Park off Macadam Ave. The 26.85 acree waterfront park has a boat dock and ramp, as well as a dedicated canoe / SUP launch. Amenities include a covered picnic area, restrooms, dog park and lots of grass fields. You can also launch from Sellwood Park on the opposite shoreline.
A short paddle through the industrial area of Oregon City to check out the natural beauty of the Willamette Falls. The horseshoe shaped falls are 1,500 ft. wide and nearly 40 ft. tall, making them the largest in Oregon and sixth in the United States by volume. The Willamette Falls were a very popular fishing and trading spot for Native Americans and early pioneers. Native American tribes would travel from as far as several hundred miles away to fish the falls during the annual salmon run. During your paddle you are likely to see ospreys, eagles, and lots of sea lions depending on the time of year.
The recommended launch point is Jon Storm Park in Oregon City. The park overlooks the river and even has a view of the Willamette Falls. Amenities include a boat dock, restrooms and a picnic shelter. You can also launch from Clackamette Park, which sits right where the Willamette and Clackamas Rivers meet. This park includes several additional amenities such as a horseshoe pits, a swing set, skatepark and more.
Elk Rock Island
Elk Rock Island is another great SUP spot that is close to Downtown Portland. Enjoy great natural scenery, lots of wildlife and check out all the beautiful homes on this stretch of the river. The 13 acre island contains several different habitats such as forests, grasslands and wetlands.
Fun Fact: Elk Rock Island is part of an ancient volcano that erupted about 40 million years ago.
The recommended launch point is Milwaukie Bay Park. This 8.5 acre site near downtown Milwaukiee was opened in 2015 and provides great river access. Amenities include a boat ramp and restrooms.
River Safety & Etiquette
- Always have a Coast Guard Approved life jacket with you. It is required by law and it can save your life! Carry a sound-producing device such as a whistle too.
- Be courteous of all other river users. We are all out there to have fun and enjoy our amazing waterways.
- Don’t use boat ramps to launch your SUP if other space is available. When using a boat launch, have all your gear ready so you are in and out quickly.
- Keep a respectful distance from those fishing on the bank or from boats.
- If you are not crossing the channel, stay close to shore.
- Leave no trace. Make sure that you leave no belongings or trash at the river.
More Great Resources
- The Oregon State Marine Board offers a free online paddling course that covers state boating laws, rules of the river, emergency tips and more!
- The Willamette River Water Trail website features gear checklists, safety info, shuttle options and a very helpful interactive map.
- Stop by the shop! Our knowledgeable, friendly staff can help you find the perfect spot for your next SUP adventure.