Water sports & water parks

Make a splash in Portland-area rivers and water parks.

Whitewater rafting on the Clackamas RiverWhitewater rafting on the Clackamas River

With rivers criss-crossing the state and the Pacific Ocean lapping against the coast, there’s a wealth of watery ways to spend a hot summer day in Oregon.

A 75-minute drive east of Portland, Hood River is the windsurfing capital of the world. Known for extreme athletes who harness the gusts that barrel down the Columbia River Gorge, this small town has a surf-village vibe, and is a great place to learn a new hobby. Hood River WaterPlay teaches everyone from beginners to experts how to hook the wind, whether with a kite board, on a stand-up paddle board or while windsurfing.

Larger groups can paddle in unison on a trip with Blue Sky Rafting. Located 30 miles outside Portland on the Clackamas River, this outfitter expertly pilots many of the local streams that fluctuate in difficulty as the winter’s snow melts off the mountain, forming some fun rapids. Or, if you want to ditch the oars but hold onto the excitement, a good jet boat ride might be just the thing. Willamette Jetboat Excursions rip down the city’s central waterway, showing off the skyline, bridges and riverfront in rapid fire. Narrated with local facts and stories, it’s a great way to get a splash of local insight.  If you’d like to go at a more leisurely pace, pack a picnic basket and be the pilot of your own private boat tour with a rented electric Duffy boat from Portland Electric Boat Company (no experience necessary!).

Even on rainy days, there are still ways to enjoy the water. North Clackamas Aquatic Park, located just outside Portland in Milwaukie, packs in six swimming pools, three water slides, a 29-foot rock climbing wall, wave pools, hot tubs and a kiddie pool — so everyone can make a splash here. The same goes for Wings & Waves Waterpark, 45 minutes west of Portland in McMinnville. With 10 slides — some originating from a real 747 jet –  and a children’s museum that focuses on the power of water, it’s a great place for kids to soak in a little summer learning on the sly.

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