UPDATE 5-20-19 This year's event has passed, and was as amazing as ever. For other ways to get out on the Clackamas River, go here. And be sure to check back for next year's festival.
Summer cometh, and in Oregon that means one thing: time to hit the water, or in this case, white water.
Do you know the Carter Bridge rapid? It’s one of the prettiest, trickiest and most easily accessed rapids on the Upper Clackamas River, a wild and scenic river in Mt. Hood National Forest, just past Estacada, forty minutes from Portland. The river is also home to the Upper Clackamas Whitewater Festival (UCWWF), a massive gathering of the best boaters, vendors, and spectators, all out to enjoy some sunny fun in the forest and some friendly yet fierce competition.
Now in its 36th year, the UCWWF is guaranteed to be a memorable weekend on one of Oregon’s best rivers. It all happens May 18-19, centered around the exhilarating Carter Bridge rapid finish line, and you can (and should) be there to witness it.
Luke Spencer, long time participant, vendor, co-chair of the event and owner of Clackamas River Outfitters will be there to help you enjoy the festival and learn about the art of river running. “The UCWWF is a chance for people in the boating community to get together, have a great time, learn, compete, and celebrate the river. Perhaps most importantly, what makes it a special festival, is it’s inclusive to all paddlers and every type of river craft.”
His wife and co-owner, Tanley, adds that “The quality of the water, the geology, scenery, pristine nature and wildlife only enhance the beauty. Woodland creatures, birds of prey and waterfowl like eagles, osprey, heron, kingfishers, and mergansers are commonly spotted; even the occasional black bear."
And if you think whitewater is just for men, think again. Nearly half of the paddlers are women, and there are several events that are strictly for the ladies. Respect!
Shawn Raquel Riley, along with co-owner Ashley LeGall, runs Goodwater Boat Works in Oregon City, a premier repair shop for inflatable craft and rafting gear. As a participant or vendor since 2004, she said “It’s a great chance for women to come together and rock it. It’s a really fun competition, and super fun rocking it together. Plus, the women probably get the most cheering and high fives from the crowds, in rafts, kayaks or the always hilarious inner tube race.”
Grab your camping gear, folding chairs, or simply some curiosity or courage, and head out to the 36th Annual Upper Clackamas White Water Festival. Some wonderful and welcoming river folk are hoping to see you there.
For all the details, directions, vendors and schedules, check out the UCWWF website.
A lifelong Oregonian, Adam has adventured across five continents and fifty countries, gaining experience at home and abroad as teacher, tour guide, travel writer and photographer. A Clackamas County resident since 2010, he hopes to promote tourism and support local businesses. His passions include history, nature, rivers, roses, darts and the Blazers.