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Best River Floats in Portland – Hello, Summer!

This week marks the official start to summer! As the weather heats up – yes, it gets into the 90s in Portland – city folk run for the Oregon coast and the nearest rivers. If you’ve been dreaming of a leisurely day on the water, here’s everything you need to know to get out on one of our many rivers.

Which Portland river to float?

While there are many rivers that you can swim and play in near Portland (including parts of the Columbia and the Willamette), if you want to do a proper float — from point A to point B — your best bet is to head to the Sandy River or the Clackamas River. Both rivers have several parks that you can base yourself from and either swim/wade in the water or go tubing. The Sandy is a little closer to central Portland, but the Clackamas is my favorite. You can also float on the Willamette River in July during The Big Float event.

Clackamas River float

Logistics:

First, you’ll need two cars if you plan to float from one park to the next (your other option is to bike or hitch a ride back to the upper parking lot). Here’s how:

1. On your way to the river, either drop Car #1 off at the float STOPPING point (and have driver #1 jump in Car #2) and drive Car #2 to the START point. OR have everyone meet at the STARTING point and then while everyone is getting ready, Driver #1 and #2 take both cars to the STOPPING point as detailed above.

2. When you arrive at the end of the float, either fit everyone into Car #1 and go get Car #2 at the STARTING point OR send both drivers to rescue Car #1. And everyone else gets to start a picnic. (Hope you put the food in Car #1).

Remember, the drivers need to keep their keys with them on the float!

Where to buy or rent tubes in Portland:

Most outdoor stores (Next Adventure etc.) in Portland have inner tubes for river floats (and stores like Fred Meyer do too). As summer heats up, it can be difficult to find tubes in stock and/or at a reasonable price, so plan ahead (I was quoted $60 for the cheapest tube at one big box sporting goods store in town one year). As much as I like to shop local, I decided to buy inner tubes on Amazon (and with Amazon Prime free 2-day shipping, you don’t have to plan ahead that far), which makes the adventure much more affordable!

Best Routes: Clackamas River Float

You have several options for floating the Clackamas River, as there are three typical start points and three end points. The most popular launch is from Milo McIver State Park‘s Upper Ramp near Estacada, Oregon (see map for details).

Float times:

  • Route 1: McIver Upper Ramp to McIver Lower Ramp – 2hrs
  • Route 2: McIver Upper Ramp to Barton – 6-7 hours
  • Route 3: McIver Upper Ramp to Carver – 8-9 hours
  • Route 4: McIver Lower Ramp to Barton – 5-6 hours
  • Route 5: McIver Lower Ramp to Carver – 7-8 hours

Best Routes: Sandy River Float

The most popular route on the Sandy is Dabney State Recreation Area to Lewis & Clark State Park (see map below). You can also start at Dodge Park and continue to Lewis & Clark.

Best river floats

Things to Bring to the River:

Newbie Tubing Tips:

  • McIver State Park and Carver County Park both close at 9pm; Barton closes at 10pm. Keep this in mind when you’re planning which route to float.
  • Most routes pass through several sets of small rapids (depending on the time of year, water levels and speed vary), so not recommended for small children.
  • You’ll need to purchase a $5 day use pass for both cars (main and shuttle).
  • If your car key is a fob and not an old school key, you’ll need to have a way to keep that key dry, by using an Otterbox etc.
  • Bring water! The idea of drinking a beer while floating the river might sound fantastic, but you’ll want water as well.
  • Bring a lunch! There are a few convenience stores on the way to the parks, but after your first hour or two of floating you’ll be glad you packed a picnic.
  • Just because you can drunkenly lay in a tube and float in water, doesn’t mean you can swim, maneuver small rapids, and/or help someone else if they need help. Drink responsibly!
  • If you get a fancy-schmancy tube you’ll need a pump to inflate the main intertube and a bike pump or your mouth to inflate the backrest.
  • Go see what the river looks like at the STOPPING point so you don’t float by.
  • You’ll learn this tip quickly: when you’re approaching rapids (and rocks), lift your butt out of the water!
  • Have fun, but be smart – every couple years someone dies on the river. Take safety seriously.

River Float Map:


View Portland Tubing: River Float Map in a larger map

Have you been river floating near Portland?

Leave your favorites in the comments. Float on!

Happy Girls 10K – Bend Oregon

06.05.14

This is a quick race recap post about my running adventures. Check out my Running page for more info on races and how I started running.

Happy Girls Course - Bend

If you haven’t been to Central Oregon, add it to your list! 300 days of sunshine, epic views of the Cascade mountains range, and a booming beer scene. Plus, one of the funniest things about Bend, is as a pretty outdoorsy person, being there makes me feel like a total amateur. While the Pacific Northwest has a good deal of people who like to get out on the weekend and hike etc., Central Oregon is full of athletes and people who are outdoorsy like it’s their job. Coming from Portland, it’s fun to see the difference.

I started the ball rolling on Memorial Day weekend plans in Bend way back in January. Then I saw that the Happy Girls 10k was the same weekend and decided to sign up.

Last year it was a bit chilly over Memorial Day weekend in Bend, but this year was pretty ideal running weather. Since the place we were staying was literally right on the course, we had our own little cheering section at the park. I definitely need to work on the slow down and smile nicely for a photo from loved ones bit though.

My Happy Girls 10k Time – 0:59 (9:37 pace)

  • Mile 1 – 9:25
  • Mile 2 – 9:15
  • Mile 3 – 9:54
  • Mile 4 – 10:07
  • Mile 5 – 10:13
  • Mile 6 – 9:37

I started out waaay to fast [for me!] on this one. I also overlooked that there was a bit of a hill in mile 5, oops! My Nike+ ended at 6.1 something instead of 6.2, so not sure what was up with the course or my phone.

Happy Girls Race Swag/Perks:

  • goodie bag with random stuff I don’t remember (the lavender soap was great though!)
  • 1 GoodLife Brewing beer at the finish
  • post-race snacks (fruit, hummus etc)

What: Happy Girls 10k
When: Sunday, May 25, 2014
Where: Deschutes River Trail – Bend, Oregon
Price: $37.58 (with promo code)

Bend 10k - I don't usually buy race photos. Ha!Overall, I loved the Happy Girls race. The course around the Deschutes River and parks is as-always gorgeous. It’s also fun to see Mt Bachelor and Broken Top in the background of race photos.

The staff of the event were also really kind. The only downside was that it lacked the “race energy” that you experience at bigger events with more people. And for my friend who ran through an injury, the lack of a distraction from smiling, cheering faces was probably a bit more noticeable. While the 10k was a tiny group, it seemed like both the half and the 5k were a bit more packed.

I can see myself running this one again.

My 2013 Goals

01.02.13

My annual end of the year goal [review/planning] time snuck up on me this year. Last year was the first time we combined goals with an overnight getaway — and I really like this as a new tradition. It’s really helpful to get out of my daily routine/distractions to take some time and reflect and plan for the coming year. So on Saturday night, realizing 2013 was steadily approaching, I started thinking Astoria would be a closer and cheaper option than back to Pacific City (like last year). And turns out there’s a cool, budget hotel in Astoria now that didn’t exist when I lived there for half a minute. The Commodore Hotel is right downtown, with “European-style” bathrooms and rooms from $75. Think McMenamins meets The Ace Hotel. The perfect quick trip from Portland.Astoria, Oregon

Astoria is the oldest settlement west of the Rockies (which feels positively ancient in the States). I’ve always loved Astoria for it’s old soul and big, small town vibe. One of the many places I say “I could live here” about, which usually receives a response of “you say that about everywhere.” Not about everywhere, but quite often. :) After a quick trip up to the Astoria Column and watching the sunset, we headed back to the waterfront for a beer at [the also relatively new] Fort George Brewery, and then settled down to goal time with my trusty, annual goal setting template. On to the goals!

Some of my 2013 Goals:

  • Work remotely for 1-3 months in 2013 again
  • Plan to work remotely internationally (end of 2013 or early 2014) – Vietnam is on my mind at the moment
  • Get a road bike (shhh… don’t tell the mixte)
  • Visit another (new to me) North American city
  • Take another 2-3 week trip
  • Visit my bff in Hawaii
  • Attend 12 new Portland/Oregon things
  • Take a new class
  • Get my immune system back to normal
  • Make my new place feel like home
  • Apply for 2 new credit cards to get airline miles or hotel points
  • Host 1 dinner party & 1 cocktail party

I feel like a lot of my goals are pretty similar to last year (travel! local adventures! Save!), but I do have fewer goals this year. I’ll get back to you in 365 days on if that was a wise idea or not. :)

What’s on your list for 2013?

Create or Learn Something Every Day

08.20.12

Last week’s ‘Create or learn every day’ goal was a success! Here’s what I created and learned last week…

Monday: Create - Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing design and background

Tuesday: Create – P&L Statement for Nicaragua Coffee Farm
My dad has been in the process, for the last couple years, of working on his coffee farm in Nicaragua. So after talking a few weeks ago, I decided it was high time he had a Profit & Loss statement to play with, so he can start making projections and really start planning for the future. Funsies!

Wednesday: Create – Pattern Making for Sewing a Skirt
I bought a cute skirt this summer that promptly ripped after a first wear. I was fairly annoyed because it wasn’t an easy fix like re-sewing a seam. Instead it was like the front of the fabric shredded! So in my anger at [cheap clothing store], I decided to just reconstruct the skirt into a pattern and make my own instead of returning it. I haven’t done a massive sewing project for oh… 12 years. So it’s been fun remembering things as I go.

Thursday: Create – an adventure with an impromptu solo day trip to the Oregon Coast
Don’t judge. You can create an adventure. Still counts as create/learn. :)

Friday: Learn – Creative Mornings
I attended this month’s Creative Mornings meetup at Pacific Northwest College of Arts. Julie Sabatier of podcast and radio show Destination DIY spoke about her process of story telling. Fun times.

On to week two!

What are you creating or learning?

JSConf + FireSky Resort Pool + Sunshine = Weekly Love

04.11.12

After being back in Portland for what seemed like just a few days, we headed to Scottsdale, Arizona for JSConf. Newsflash: my skills in nerdliness have not increased that much in the few weeks since I designed my WordPress theme. I was there for the ‘significant others’ track. Say what? A cool idea, indeed. An even cooler idea on my part would have been taking a vacation along with it. But alas, here’s what I’ve been loving this week…

This week:

-Pool at FireSky Resort – If we had a do-over, we would have stayed at the conference hotel — the amazing FireSky Resort & Spa. Since the conference room block was sold out by the time we booked, we ended up staying down the road, but Arizonans are so chill that I ended up hanging out at the FireSky a bit. You know how stock photos always have pictures of a laptop at the beach — like that would ever be a good idea? Sand and sunshine and laptop screens don’t play well together. However, in the Phoenix area, it gets so hot in the summer that they have plenty of shaded areas all around the pool — great for actually being able to see your screen. Perfect office. (well for a few hours anyway).

-JSConf – Working for dot com companies for seven years, I usually feel pretty comfortable chatting about most things tech related. So it’s always a fun experience to be the little fish in a big pond of [foreign language] engineering speak. JSConf after-parties were half me thinking “ha, I actually know about this” to half “node JS, huh?”

-Cartel Coffee Lab – I needed a coffee shop to work out of while in Scottsdale, and after a bit of Yelping I discovered Cartel Coffee. It was Portland-y. I enjoyed it. And the staff were crazy friendly. So I ended up staying all day.

-Foodie tour – The only “significant others” track I ended up doing at JSConf was the Taste of Old Town Scottsdale food tour. I can’t imagine it’s as enjoyable in the summer months, but it was an awesome breezy, walkable lunch between six different Old Town establishments and tasting everything from tacos to sangria. I don’t say no to tasty eats combined with exercise. One of my favorite ways to see a city is on foot and by bike.

-a rare, warm April weekend in Oregon – spent happy hour-ing at clarklewis (one of my fav happy hours in Portland), breaking in my new knock-off Sperry Top-Sider boat shoes, sipping ginger berry smoothie from Sip Juice cart, relaxing at the park, Pyro Pizza from Cartopia, and a quick visit to the Central Oregon coast. Oh Oregon, I love you.

-Inventing on Principle – save Bret Victor’s talk for when you have an extra hour, grab a cup of coffee and scribble a furious amount of notes. “Ideas are important. Creators need an immediate connection to what they create.”

What are you loving this week?

Olivia Raymer
Things I ♥: travel, food (I'm a pescatarian), the Pacific Northwest, bikes (I ride an orange mixte), beer (IPAs), summer, coffee, lists, and kitties. Travel enthusiast, former product manager, dabbler, and currently helping small businesses with digital strategy at Early Bird Strategy.

Oh hai!




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