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.
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.
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.
Open - Most trails in the Clackamas River Ranger District are now open but be aware that many overhead and ground hazards remain.
Closed - Clackamas River Trail #715 and Riverside Trail #723 remain closed due to extensive damage, destroyed bridges, and slide areas.
Open - PGE's Promontory Park is open for camping. They have sites for tents and small RVs, and have cabins and "yomes" for rent.
Closed - All other campgrounds and camping in the fire-affected areas along the Clackamas River Corridor and accessible via HWY 224 remains closed. This includes dispersed camping. For more information on each campground and the damage incurred, click here and scroll down the page to the USFS "Inventory of fire-related damage to recreation sites" link.
Open - Forest Road (FR) 46, FR 63, FR 70, FR 42, and many of their spurs are some of the popular routes that are now open. Additionally, virtually all forest roads outside of the Riverside, Lionshead, and Bull Complex fire perimeters are now open. Many of these roads do require high clearance vehicles.
Closed - The below roads remain closed until danger trees are removed:
FR 4220 between FR 46 and Olallie Lake
FR 45 (Hillockburn Rd.) at forest boundary
FR 4620 at Hwy 224 junction
FR 4631 at Hwy 224 junction
FR 4630 between Hwy 224 & Lake Harriet
FR 54 (Fish Creek Rd.) at Hwy 224 junction
FR 57 between Hwy 224 and Lake Harriet
FR 46 is CLOSED to motor vehicles at the Willamette National Forest boundary.
Yes, hazard tree mitigation, rock scaling, restraining mesh installation, paving and cleanup work will continue throughout the summer. Expect delays as long as 20 minutes all along the corridor and plan for heavier than usual delays and traffic on weekends. For more information on ODOT's continued work in the HWY 224 corridor, click here.
No. These lakes (and Olallie Resort and a few campgrounds) are open, but they are currently only accessible via HWY 26 because Forest Road 57 remains closed off of HWY 224.
Please park only in designated areas and be aware that many guided outfitter companies will need these spots for put-in/take-out as they run their tours.
HWY 224 is open from Estacada to Ripplebrook at Mile post 50. An "out and back" scenic drive will allow you to view the topography and geology of the corridor in a way not possible before the fire. It also provides an excellent opportunity to witness the post-wildfire ecological restoration of a forest first hand.
The Moore Creek and Hole in the Wall boat access sites, Big Eddy Day-Use Area and Carter Falls Overlook are open. The Ripplebrok Store remains closed until sometime in 2023.
Many trails, forest roads and popular "spur routes" are now open. Note however that disbursed camping is not permitted at that many roads require high-clearance vehicles.
Support your local guides and outfitters! Local water recreation businesses suffered greatly due to the closures, but are operating now on the Upper Clackamas River and are a fantastic option to safely recreate in the area. Click any of the links below to talk to a guided outfitter and book a tour.
Support Estacada! In addition to the corridor suffering massive fire damage, small businesses in Estacada were impacted from the fires as visitation decreased during the shutdown of Hwy 224. Visit the local shops, grab a meal and a local craft beverage or learn about the history through their Estacada Mural Walking Tour. Click here to start planning your pre or post trip visit to Estacada.
There are still many scenic views along the river, and more waterfalls are also visible. Learn more about what you can expect to see here.
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.
1. Lower McIver Boat Ramp to Barton Park
Less than a 15 minute drive from Barton Park, Milo McIver State Park is open 7am – 9pm in the summer and is a great alternative route from the busy Barton to Carver float. Start at the lower McIver boat ramp and meander down the Clackamas as you pass towering Doug Firs and keep an eye out for Eagles and Osprey near Bonnie Lure State Park. Also note the fire scars - recent reminders of how close the wildfires came to the Portland metro area.
Please note: Keep an eye out for the bridge near Barton Park, as the boat ramp to exit is before this on your right hand side.
2. Carver Park to Riverside Park
A great alternative to the Barton/Carver float, here you start to pass though agricultural land and pastoral farms as the land starts to transition from rural to urban at the bottom of the Clackamas River watershed. There is no parking fee for Riverside Park, and the drive from Riverside to Carver is a short 12 minutes.
3. Bonnie Lure State Recreation Area to Carver Park
Didn’t listen to us and plan an alternative route? Waiting in line at the Barton Park gate with no time frame of when the gates will open again? (Estimated wait runs 3-4 hours on weekends- see FAQ section) Just 10 minute drive upriver is Bonnie Lure State Recreation Area. DO NOT put in at the bridge. Felled trees for salmon habitat restoration block the creek in multiple areas down stream Instead, take the path located to the left of the State Recreation Area sign. A short, 10 minute walk puts you in towards the end of Eagle Creek about 100 yards from the Clackamas River. Sure, it's a longer float, but would you rather wait 2 hours in a car, or add 2 hours to your river experience? NOTE: Parking area at Bonnie Lure State Recreation Area has a maximum of 25 spaces.
Not recommended for floaters/non-paddle operated watercraft due to a larger class II+ rapid just after the upper Milo McIver boat ramp as well as abutments under the Union Pacific and I-205 bridges that floaters would have difficulty navigating.
1. Upper Milo McIver Park to Barton Park
A great paddle that starts you off with a class II+ rapid just after the upper McIver boat launch, and from there you enjoy a relaxing paddle with some easy class I rapids. Be sure to look for eagles and osprey on your way to Barton and enjoy ending your paddle right where things start to get really busy with summertime floaters.
2. Riverside Park to Clackamette Park
Avoid the weekend crowds at Carver Park and put-in at Riverside Park for a short, fun paddle through the communities of Oregon City and Gladstone, before ending at the confluence with the Willamette River at Clackamette Park. You’ll pass under the old Union Pacific railroad bridge and the I-205 bridge as well as pass through the popular swimming hole at High Rocks.
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.
Average wait time is 3-4 hours. Rangers wait until about 10% of parking is freed up for the next group. Explore alternative options for floating and paddling on the Lower Clackamas River.
Nope, just like car entry, when the park is full walk-ins are not allowed. This is a safety hazard as the road leading down to the river is about a mile-long and there are still cars on the road via registered campers, staff, etc.
Explore alternative options for floating and paddling on the Lower Clackamas River.
The best spot if you’re near Barton Park is the Barton Convenience Store: 24802 SE Bakers Ferry Rd, Boring, OR 97009
Both Barton and Carver parks close their gates at 9pm. Vehicles left will be towed at the owner’s expense.
Alcoholic beverages are not allowed in either park.
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.
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.