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My Top Five Oregon Paddling Destinations

Updated: Aug 8, 2023

When the sun comes out and temperatures start rising, there’s no better way to appreciate western Oregon’s beauty than to take out the kayak or canoe on the water! We’ve done the “hard work” for you, and are happy to present you with the top five kayaking spots I’ve found (in no particular order). Grab your paddle and meet me out there!

1. Devil’s Lake, Lincoln City

Lincoln City, in general, is an excellent spot for water sports, but I’ve really developed a soft spot for Devil’s Lake. You can access launch sites from Regatta Park or Devil’s Lake State Parks on the east or west side. The east side is free, but the west has camping and yurts, so if you’re planning on staying for more than a day, it’s a great option.

Exploring is easy, thanks to the tranquil waters and shelter from the coastal winds. If you’re just starting out or just prefer less choppy waters, this leisurely experience is sure to suit your needs. What’s more is Oregon State Parks offer guided kayak tours from Memorial Day to Labor Day!

2. Chetco River, Southern Oregon, Kalmiopsis Wilderness

Featuring stunning teal water, high-quality whitewater, and pristine wilderness, the Chetco River does require quite the trip to gain access, but it’s well worth it if you’re looking for a more exciting adventure. Tight canyons and boulder-strewn rapids wind through a practically untouched area of the country. Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to appreciate its beauty through crystal-like pools and little side creeks to take a breather in. If you’re looking for a unique multi-day trip, this is one not to miss.

3. The Clackamas River

If you live in Portland, you have no excuse not to go paddling on the Clackamas River! Featuring class III and IV rapids in the northern segment and a calmer southern section, there’s something for every skill level. If you’re on a time limit, you’ll also enjoy the various roadside launch sites along the river that are easy to access.

Make sure to watch out for “Hole in the Wall”, which is a rapid in the upper section that runs into a rock wall, suddenly turning into a deep green pool. If you’re going to be up there, make sure you’re experienced and haven’t had much to drink. Below this rapid, you’ll find an array of fun drops and holes to play in!

4. Beaver Creek, near Newport

Another relaxing location is Beaver Creek, located just 10 minutes from Newport, at the Brian Booth/Ona Beach State Park exit. You can launch from the boat ramp on the other side of the 101 from the state park or from the easily-accessible grassy banks along the creek. Once you paddle past the picnic area and under a footbridge, you’ll see the creek connects to the beach.

Instead of a rocky, harsh environment, you’ll encounter wooded, marshy areas home to the creature the creek gets its name from, among other critters. As there’s practically no current, you can paddle either way up or down the creek. The quiet, gentle trail is a nice way to get away from the city and noise, offering an array of outdoor activities. A favorite time to go is any time from May to October before it gets too cold.

5. Seaside

For a serene yet ever-changing scenery, check out Seaside’s various rivers and ponds where you’ll encounter a wide array of wildlife, such as the blue heron, bald eagles, and osprey. If you’re just starting out, you’ll appreciate the calmer rivers, while more experienced paddlers will love the challenge of ocean kayaking and breaking surf. There are also countless shallow coves, estuaries, and bays to explore in the area!

The best way to get there is through Broadway Park landing dock on the east side of the 101, where it’s easy to launch. There are also planned tour guides and local lessons available if you’d like to go in groups!


While these may be my top five, they vary quite a bit, and there’s definitely something for everyone. From the calm and quiet to the more exciting surf, you’re sure to have enough ideas to last you the rest of the year!

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