The Northwestern region of the United States has always been known as a playground for adventure-seekers of all ages, and Hood River, Oregon is no exception. The lure of snow-covered mountains paired with countless amounts of rivers and lakes provides the perfect stage for an extensive line-up for recreational sports including snow-skiing, snowboarding, hiking, biking, fishing, windsurfing, kiteboarding, sailing, stand-up paddle boarding, rafting, and of course, kayaking. Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or you’ve never stepped foot in a kayak, there’s plenty of different options and locations that are great for every skill level.
The Columbia River
The closest kayaking location to Hood River is the Columbia River, which runs right through the center of the Columbia River Gorge. There is beautiful scenery throughout the entire Columbia Gorge, and the river provides the ideal conditions for flat water kayaking—a good first step for those new to kayaking. Both the Gorge Paddling Center and Hood River WaterPlay offer kayak rentals, lessons, and guided tours. Gorge Paddling Center also offers evening tours, or “Sunset Tours,” which puts kayakers in the best place possible to take in the Gorge’s breathtaking sunset views.
Lost Lake Resort & Campground
Located in the Mount Hood National Forest, Lost Lake Resort and Campground is another hot-spot for those interested in kayaking. There are no motor boats allowed in the lake, which is great news for beginners or those just looking for a relaxing, calm day out on the water. Lost Lake not only offers kayaking rentals, but they also provide rowboats, canoes, paddle boards and pedal boats. And the best part? Lost Lake is home to one of the best views of Mt. Hood found anywhere in the area.
White Salmon River
For those looking to take the next step towards adventure, the White Salmon River is an awesome location for expanding on and testing out your skills at whitewater kayaking. Wet Planet Whitewater offers a wide variety of courses and trips that can take you from learning the basics in a pool to multi-day trips on the river. If you have a very strong interest in kayaking and want to learn everything there is to know, Wet Planet Whitewater is the place to go. They offer privates lessons and group sessions, but always limit the student to instructor ratio to no more than 4:1, giving their students a very personalized experience.
Finally, some of the most action-packed kayaking trips can be found by driving a couple hours south of Hood River to the Rogue River. The Northwest Rafting Company offers four-day trips that combine whitewater kayaking and Class II/III rafting. Led by a professional guide, the trip takes kayakers 38 miles through one of the original eight “charter” rivers as designated by Congress in the 1968 Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. While the trip is extensive, it’s still suitable for families and first-timers. In addition to kayaking and rafting, travelers will get to experience hiking along the Rogue River Trail, floating through Mule Creek Canyon, and camping along the riverside.
Regardless of skill level and where you choose to kayak, the beauty really comes from the experience (and of course, the scenery). Hood River and its surrounding areas are guaranteed to provide every kayaker with gorgeous views and lifelong memories.