The Best Water Sports in the Columbia River Gorge

Wow, it is hot outside! That summer sun is heating up the Gorge and everyone is looking to head to the water. Luckily, we have no shortage of that! The only problem is figuring out how you’re going to cool off. From simply swimming in the river to trying a new and extreme sport, here are the best ways to enjoy the waters of the Columbia River Gorge.


On any sunny day in the Columbia Gorge, you’ll notice several colorful sails gliding along the waters. Each one belongs to a windsurfer using only the gusts of the Gorge to propel them on the water. While it may look extremely difficult to master, you might get the hang of it pretty quickly with the help of Big Winds’ lessons. In no time you could be zooming around and having a blast all on your own.

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White Water Rafting

While you can’t raft down the Columbia River, you can float down one of the side rivers that feed into the valley. Strap on a life vest, grab a paddle and get ready for a couple hours of pure fun. Zoller’s Outdoor Odyssey out of White Salmon has been a long time favorite for rafting tours. Choose your section of the river based on challenge level, length, and opportunities for cliff jumping. Another favorite outfitter is Wet Planet Whitewater where you can choose from fully inclusive half-day to multi-day excursions.

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Kayaking & Paddleboarding

What is more peaceful than an early morning kayaking or SUP expedition on the water. If you are bringing your own then you can drop in just about anywhere. Goose Lake (near Panther Falls) is a popular kayaking lake tucked away deep in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Drano Lake off of Highway 14 is another popular spot for its accessibility and 360-degree views of the Gorge. If you don’t have your own, no worries! Rent one from Hood River WaterPlay. With their own private beach in Hood River, plus an extensive amount of watercraft rentals, you can head out for a relaxing day on the water with no work at all!

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Say goodbye to the usual and welcome in a whole new water experience. Flyboarding is something so crazy and nonsensical that it actually works. This jetpack/hoverboard looking machine lets you fly high into the sky using powerful jets strapped to your feet. You can test your ability through Gorge Flyboard in Cascade Locks. Their helpful and friendly guides will teach you how to use the machine and you’ll be flying high in no time.

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Whether you’re a beginner sailor who has never touched a boat or a sailing expert, you’ll love sailing in the Gorge. With sunny summer days and strong gusts of wind, the Columbia River Gorge is one of the few rivers in the world with the right ingredients to go sailing. Heart of the Gorge Sailing is a great outfitter that will make your romantic date night, spontaneous afternoon excursion, or all-day sail a breeze. One of their most popular excursions is the sunset sail. Bring a bottle of Columbia Gorge wine and let the team take care of everything else, from the sails to the hors d’oeuvres.


No-Stress Beach Day

Even if you’re tired after a day of hiking or mountain biking, you can still enjoy the waters of the Gorge while kicking back and relaxing. The Hood River Waterfront Park is a popular spot for windsurfers to glide across the waters. Bring a picnic, sit back, and watch all of the different sails dance around. Stevenson’s East Point Kite Beach is another popular destination with grassy shores and views for miles.


Try something familiar in a new environment or go for a new and exciting watersport that you can only experience in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge. After a long day of sailing or kayaking or beach relaxing head back to your luxurious accommodations at Carson Ridge Luxury Cabins. Private cabins with stunning views, romantic firepits, and plenty of fresh mountain air await you.

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