View of the Wild & Scenic Clackamas River with green trees, blue river and a bridge in distance in Oregon's Mount Hood Territory

Clackamas River

UPDATE: On August 22, 2022, the USFS opened and restored access to many areas, roads and trails within the burn area. A copy of the reopening news release can be found here and an updated access map can be found here. These and other helpful resources can found on the USF'S Updates page.

The Clackamas River flows some 83 miles from its headwaters in the Mt. Hood National Forest to its confluence with the Willamette River. Along its route, the Clackamas meanders through wild and scenic landscapes as well as rural and urban areas offering an array of recreational activities that include world-class whitewater rafting and kayaking, flatwater paddling, boating, floating, fishing, hiking, camping and cycling. Whatever the season, the Upper and Lower sections of the Clackamas River provide something fun and exciting for all. And if you're not sure on what to do or how to do it, book a trip with one of our local guides, who are experts on the changing conditions and offer insights into the best ways to recreate on the river. 

Upper Clackamas

In September 2020 the Riverside Fire burned 138,126 acres, impacting a large area of Mt. Hood National Forest (MHNF), along with the Lionshead, Bull Complex and Beachie Creek fires. By the time the fires were contained some 26 campgrounds and day-use sites, 24 trailheads and 37 trails were completely lost or severely damaged. The US Forest Service (USFS) issued a Forest Closure Order for fire-affected areas and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) closed Oregon Highway 224 closed to the public between milepost 31 and milepost 50. 

After significant debris removal, slide mitigation efforts and other safety work, ODOT reopened HWY 224 as “out and back” to mile post 50 at Ripplebrook on May 1, 2022. While several sites along the Clackamas River provided access to the river for rafting, kayaking, fishing and sight-seeing, most of the fire-affected area with the forest remained closed.  

On August 22, 2022, the USFS opened and restored access to many areas, roads and trails within the burn area. A copy of the reopening news release can be found here and an updated access map can be found here. These and other helpful resources can found on the USF'S Updates page. 

Below is some helpful information to plan, prepare and recreate safely, including an FAQ section, links to USFS and ODOT resource pages, as well as information on local guides and outfitters offering equipment rentals and whitewater experiences.  

For more ideas of things to do in and around the area, check out Visit Estacada and our Estacada community page.        

The following are questions and answers that will help you plan your visit to recently reopened Highway 224, from Promontory Park to Ripplebrook. Changes are happening frequently, so for the most up-to-date and most comprehensive list of FAQs, visit the USFS's page.

Lower Clackamas

View of the Wild & Scenic Clackamas River with green trees, blue river and a bridge in distance in Oregon's Mount Hood Territory
Lower Clackamas River

While the Upper Clackamas is known for its steep terrane, wild and scenic beauty, and bigger more technically challenging whitewater, the River transitions to flatter topography and generally more relaxed water recreation opportunities downstream. Don't get us wrong, there are rapids along the "upper" section of the Lower Clackamas that will provide for a fun day of kayaking or rafting, but if you’re looking for more low-key activities like floating, SUPing or just splashing around, the Lower Clackamas might be of interest to you.

However, because of the Lower Clackamas’ proximity to Portland, recreation sites along this section of the River are extremely popular when the weather turns hot. It is not uncommon to wait in traffic for hours to get into a park or for them to temporarily close access until capacity opens up. This is particularly true for Barton Park. If you parked a vehicle downriver and were planning a one-way float this can be problematic. What started as a great idea for beating the heat turns into a frustrating experience because a lot of other people had the same idea.   

Knowledge is power. Below is information about alternative floats, river mile distances between recreation sites, equipment rentals, links to park websites and a list of frequently asked question to help you plan a more enjoyable experience. 

Below are some frequently asked questions during the summertime that relate to the Barton to Carver float. Be sure to check out our "Alternative float and paddle options" section for other less busy, but still beautiful floats (and paddles) along the Clackamas River. For more FAQs related to floating the Clackamas River in general, visit the Clackamas Water Trail FAQ page. 

Support Local!

Don't forget to support your local small businesses in Estacada as well as view some great options for rentals (if you don't have your own tube/life jacket etc.) or even a guided tour. 

Take a guided tour along the Lower Clackamas River with Northwest Whitewater Adventures.

Dahl Beach to Cross Park shuttle and tube rentals via eNRG Kayaking.

Watercraft rentals and accessories available in Happy Valley at Oregon River Rentals or in Estacada at Clackamas River Outfitters.

Class III Rapid Upper Clackamas River

The community of Estacada is situated along the Clackamas River, right at the start of what's considered the "upper" part of the river. It's the perfect spot to gear up before heading out, or to spend some time after relaxing. It's also a fun little town to be the primary purpose of your trip. You can browse our complete list of things to do in Estacada, or check out a few ideas below. 

Couple smiles in front of a mural in Estacada, Oregon
Visit Estacada
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Person hold a stand up paddle board in front of a mural in Estacada, Oregon
Things To Do: Estacada
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Fresh Mayan cuisine from Sabor Yucateca food truck in Estacada
Eat: Estacada
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Woman shopping at Lennox Jai Boutique in Estacada, Oregon
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