It's hard to believe that Portland ever lacked a dearth of quality paddle outfitters, considering the many evergreen-lined rivers and nearby coastline. But back in 1986, the founders of Alder Creek Kayak & Canoe felt there were too few options serving the area, so they launched their own garage shop. Their passion for the outdoors and paddle sports steadily built the company, and today, a staff of equipment experts advises guests on kayaking, canoeing, standup-paddleboarding, and rafting supplies. Beyond selling gear from vessels to apparel, staffers lead on-the-water classes and organize group trips. The shop also outfits customers for independent exploration with a fleet of rentals.
Beginner kayakers and nature lovers alike will both enjoy this scenic tour of the island and Willamette River. Experienced guides will lead paddlers past the Oaks Bottom wildlife refuge in the hopes of spotting the bald eagles and blue heron that reside there, though breathtaking views of the downtown Portland skyline are guaranteed.
The Santiam River is Mother Nature's take on the roller coaster?for about 50 miles, at least. The northern section of the river brims with rapids, which churn up whitewater and glitter bombs in anticipation of Bill Sanderson and his fellow guides. For more than three decades, these rafting experts have taken groups on fast, exciting trips along the river. When not navigating the rapids, the guides talk about the region's history and geography. Occasionally, they spot wildlife, such as beavers and deer.
At Natural High Rafting, they lead guided rafting and fishing trips on more than 12 of Oregon?s scenic and coastal rivers, including the Deschutes and Clackamas. The fishing trips also seek out fish by species, often encountering monsters such as steelhead, trout, and coho and chinook salmon.
Housed at the bottom of the roaring Willamette Falls, which comprises the confluence of Willamette and Clackamas Rivers, eNRG Kayaking's on-water shop and docks serve as the home base for instructional excursions in kayaking, rapids rafting, and standup paddleboarding. Head instructor Sam Drevo also helps those more experienced in watersports to attain a swift-water rescue certification or an ACA instructor certification, required credentials to shake hands with most river deities. Sam watches over all levels of kayakers with experience earned through years of competing, including a ranking as the world's sixth-best freestyle kayaker in 1998 and a first-place win at the Ford Gorge Games' Outdoor World Championships in 2001.
When Sam is not leading tours around the falls or down segments of either river, he guides extended expeditions to other northwestern and foreign waterways. His 16 international aquatic excursions have taken paddlers to rivers on four continents, through countries such as Canada, Costa Rica, Thailand, Laos, China, India, and Botswana. Sam and his staff aim to protect the rivers through eco-friendly exploration and sell a range of kayak models to help others to similarly respect the ecosystem or sneak up and tickle unsuspecting bass.
The outdoor experts of Northwest River Guides lead whitewater-rafting, kayaking, and standup-paddleboarding trips on local waters that range from the Willamette to Klickitat Rivers. They also prepare adventurers for independent outings through kayaking classes, including advanced training in swift-water rescue. For those seeking once-in-a-lifetime experiences or to bolster their strange-and-exotic-water collections, Northwest’s guides organize international expeditions to such destinations as Canada, Costa Rica, and Scandinavia. Members of American Whitewater, the Outdoor Alliance, and Portland-based nonprofit We Love Clean Rivers, guides advocate preservation and stewardship during each trip.