An extreme kayaker floats through the City of Roses
By Sam Drevo, June 19 2013
An hour's drive from Portland are whitewater rivers like the Little White Salmon and Canyon Creek. They’re what initially drew me to the City of Roses, or Bridge City. But what’s kept me here for fifteen years is the immense river resource closer to home -- the Willamette River.
Among international whitewater kayakers, Portland is known as a paddling mecca. Just ten miles upstream of downtown, I’m navigating the base of the second largest waterfall in America, Willamette Falls. One mile below, at the river’s confluence with the emerald green Clackamas, I pause to catch sight of a prehistoric sturgeon as it jumps clear out of the water.
The Willamette changes character as it flows north through Portland--from swift current and thundering waterfall to a lazy river. At Ross Island, I’m eye-level with the gravel pits that built the city’s foundation. Floating past Sauvie Island, I watch magnificent water fowl and the largest bald eagles I’ve ever seen. At the confluence of the Columbia, I course calmly through Multnomah Channel, or choose the more exposed open water at Kelley Point.
Though I've experienced many of Oregon's pristine watersheds, it's this diversity of on-water experience so close to Portland that keeps bringing me back to the Willamette River. Now, with the big pipe project complete and the Willamette’s health improving annually, I invite you to join me in exploring and protecting this wonderful resource.
It all starts with a stroll to your local riverside park. Consider a group activity like dragon boating, kayaking at the Portland Boathouse, or the many events that celebrate the river--such as The Big Float, Paddle Oregon, or our Willamette Falls Kayak Tour.
I'll see you on the water.Beauty and the base of Willamette Falls: