Whitewater kayaking in the Columbia River Gorge is very popular on the White Salmon, Klickitat, Deschutes and Clackamas Rivers. Professional kayakers travel from all over the world to challenge themselves on the renown class V whitewater waves and waterfalls. There are options for all levels of kayaking, from beginner kayaking on the Klickitat, to advanced on the White Salmon and Wind River, and expert kayaking on the White Salmon and Little White Salmon. If flat water kayaking is your passion, there are many lakes and rivers to enjoy while taking in the surrounding beauty. Mt. Hood’s Lost, Trillium and Timothy Lakes, as well as Lacamas and Horsethief Lakes along with the Clackamas River, are all kayak and canoe friendly. Outrigger canoe and surfski paddlers also frequent the Columbia River Gorge because of its consistent wind and waves. Outrigger canoes can be single or up to six-man boats whereas the surfski is a long, narrow, lightweight kayak with an open cockpit, usually with a foot pedal controlled rudder.

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The White Salmon River is a National Wild and Scenic River that begins on the glaciers of Mt. Adams and flows into the Columbia River. It is known for its most popular Class III rafting and kayaking trips. Not only is it known for its great whitewater, you will also experience beautiful forested canyons. Unique Husum Falls is an exciting part of the river which is the largest commercially run waterfall in the United States. If you are an adrenaline junkie, the White Salmon will get your blood flowing.

A woman paddles an outrigger kayak in the Columbia River Gorge
A couple enjoys a sunfilled day on calm waters while flat water kayaking in the Gorge

A bit of history

The kayak was first created by the artic people, know as the Inuits, aka “Eskimos” and indigenous people. The name kayak means ‘man boat’ or ‘hunting boat’ and came from the word ‘Quayaq.’ Early kayak designs were small and agile for primitive hunting. Hunters would chase their prey across open waters and harpoon seals, walrus and whales.