Taking in the tranquility of Basalt Gorge (West Fork of Hood River)

Some people think we’re crazy for hopping in our kayaks when it’s 35 degrees and drizzling, but if you love to paddle, there are many reasons to get out in the rain. If you wait for summer in Oregon, many rivers and streams are too low for boating; it’s the rain that feeds the rivers and creeks we love to explore. Lucky for us, modern drysuits keep us warm and dry even when the temperatures are below freezing.

Rafting: There are many great places for winter day trips in Oregon. The Clackamas and Sandy Rivers near Portland have reliable Class III and IV rapids throughout the winter and spring. Another favorite is the Hood River, which has 5 sections ranging from Class II to IV+ for rafters.

The Rogue and Illinois Rivers provide amazing multi-day trips this time of year. The Rogue River has steady flows and is the perfect 3-4 day trip with mostly Class III rapids and one Class IV. The Illinois is a bit more challenging with many Class IV rapids and an infamous Class V rapid called the Green Wall. You can only raft the Illinois following a good rain, and you should be careful to go when it isn’t too high or on the rise.

Kayaking: There are an unlimited supply of creeks to paddle in Oregon during our rainy season. Eagle and Fish Creeks are popular tributaries of the Clackamas River and both are close to Portland. Opal Creek (the Little North Fork of the Santiam) is a popular choice for its challenging rapids and stunning scenery, but it requires a few days of heavy rain. Check out OregonKayaking for some more great choices and inspiration.

Happy Paddling!

About the Author: Zachary Collier

Zach Collier owns Hood River based Northwest Rafting Company. He spends his winters exploring new rivers and summers guiding on the Rogue River. He's paddled and guided trips around the world, but chose to call Oregon home due to the abundance of amazing whitewater rivers.

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