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October 11, 2021 11 min read

Best Places To Paddle Board In Oregon

Man paddle boarding in Sparks Lake

It doesn’t take long to fall in love with Oregon. From the glittering waters of Crater Lake to the breathtaking colors of the Painted Hills, the diverse landscape of this Pacific northwest state will blow you away. So grab your paddle board and start exploring Oregon!

Over recent years, paddle boarding has boomed in Bend, traditionally a hub for skiers and hikers hitting the mountains. This charming city was even voted the best SUP getaway in 2014 by Outside Magazine. The reason why? Central Oregon is packed full of prime paddle boarding locations, giving you a variety of spots to discover.

Move further afield towards the coast, or the southern evergreen forests, and you’ll find even more places to paddle board in Oregon. The possibilities are endless!

We’ve hand-selected the best places to paddle board in Oregon, across the entire state. So prepare your stand up paddle board and pack your bags. This is going to be one wild adventure!

Best Places to Paddle Board in Portland, Oregon 

Portland is a city of indie-spirited charm and some beautiful paddle boarding spots. Grab one of the best coffees in town to-go and start inflating your SUP to join the hipster movement.

In central Portland, the river passes through the heart of the downtown, and is a popular choice for local paddle boarders due to its accessibility and relatively calm conditions most of the year. There are plenty of SUP spots to explore just a short drive from Portland that are great for all ages and abilities. So whether you enjoy surfing the rapids, racing downstream, or simply want a casual paddle, you can find it nearby.

Sauvie Island

Bridge in sauvie island

Sauvie Island Wildlife Refuge provides beautiful secluded paddling just 30 miles out of Portland. Several waterways branch off through the natural park, giving you epic paddle journeys through remote bayou virtually inaccessible from land.

The Gilbert River and Sturgeon Lake, accessed from Sauvie Island, have miles of gentle cruising. This Wildlife Refuge is one of the best places in Oregon to spot eagles and herons, and also offers close encounters with bears, coyotes, and deer. Paddling is only possible between April and July due to low water levels.

Willamette River

Willametter river in north of eugene

The Willamette River is 190km long, running North of Eugene down to Portland. It’s one of the main transport routes for steamships and riverboats, so not the best spot for beginner paddlers. If busy waters don’t phase you, then plan a day trip here. You’re likely to see immense Navy ships, cargo boats, and possibly even a submarine!

Columbia River Gorge

Columbia river gorge SUP oregon

Columbia River Gorge is immense and completely awe-inspiring. It’s a one-hour drive east of downtown Portland and one of the best SUP spots in Oregon.

Strong winds are common in the Gorge, so be sure to check the forecasts before setting off. The best place to launch your SUP from is Hood River. From here, you can stick to the calmer waters or take the expedition paddle out to Wells Island for a bit more excitement down Columbia River.

Timothy Lake

Man in a Timothy Lake

Timothy Lake is located 60 km south of Portland and offers jaw-dropping views of the snow capped heights of Mt. Hood. This lake is 2.1 miles long, so there's plenty of space to explore and enjoy your paddle board.

There are several campgrounds around Timothy Lake, and the water is moderately warm in the summer months. This makes it an ideal location for family weekend trips or paddle boarding with your dog. And with the incredible backdrop, be sure to remember your camera!

Scappoose Bay

Scappoose Bay saltwater estuaries

Numerous creeks and saltwater estuaries feed Scappoose Bay, providing a seemingly endless list of interesting wildlife and natural beauty. You can visit the bay all year, but early spring is the best time of year to paddle these waters.

This is a great place to get confident with paddle boarding, mastering the basics before heading out further afield. From Scappoose Bay, you can access Sauvie Island, Lewis River, and Collins Beach – not bad for a 30-minute drive out of Portland!

Hagg Lake

Henry Hagg Lake Portland

Hagg Lake is 36-miles west of Portland, roughly a 40-minute drive. There are picnic spots all along shore and boat ramps for easy access to the water. Inflating your SUP and hitting the water couldn’t be any easier.

The lake is well-stocked with popular fish, with the angling season open from early March. If you’ve ever wanted to try SUP fishing, then this is the best place to cast a line out and give it a go. Waterfowl and birds of prey are generally found and provide impressive entertainment when you paddle through the quiet waters.

Best Places to Paddle Board on Oregon’s Coast

The coast of Oregon is one of North America's most scenic landscapes. Typically during the summer the conditions can be unpredictable, and you can expect strong onshore winds dominating the weather. Winter storms emerge from Alaska, pushing a chill across the water along with monster swells.

In the right conditions, on the right day, the Oregon coast offers an incredible collection of SUP destinations to explore. Swell is consistent year-round, great for trying SUP surfing!

Devil's Lake

Greeny Devil's Lake

You’re going to want to make sure you’ve got a GoPro mounted for this one! Devil’s Lake is set just off Oregon’s coast in Lincoln City, unaffected by coastal winds, making it a popular stand up paddle boarding spot.

The waters are crystal clear turquoise with a stunning alpine surround. Devil’s Lake is a perfect example of Oregon’s outdoor world.

Pacific City

Sleepy beach front Pacific city

Pacific City is a sleepy beachfront town off the beaten track. This is a place perfect for fun on a paddle board! Choose between enjoying a zenful float down the river, stretching into some SUP yoga, or try your skills out on the waves.

The beach offers soft sand and gentle waves, perfect for beginner paddle boarders to hit the waves. Remember to always check tide times and swell conditions before setting off.

Coos Bay

Yacht docked at Coos Bay Pacific Coastal City

Coos Bay is another Pacific coastal city. From here you can also reach Sunset Bay State Park, a beautiful scenic area with plenty of sandy beaches to explore by paddle board. This is a sheltered spot, so you don’t have to paddle against the strong ocean winds.

Where to Paddle Board in Central Oregon (Bend)

Central Oregon has some of the best paddle boarding destinations in Northern America. Bend is the main city, popular for many outdoor sports including rock climbing, skiing, and paddle boarding. You can expect gorgeous lakes and the famous Deschutes River, perfect for inflatable paddle board exploration.

Sparks Lake

Cascading mountain view at Sparks Lake

Sparks Lake is a favorite for locals who want to get out and enjoy the beauty of the cascading mountains with a stand up paddleboard. The calm water provides a picturesque scene, reflecting the surrounding mountains. Remember to bring your camera to capture the memories of this mesmerizing place.

This lake is ideal for all levels of ability. Parking is always guaranteed, and launch sites are easily accessible, you just have a short walk along the trailhead to access the water.

Elk Lake

Kayaking at Elk Lake

Elk Lake is Bend's best summer playground. The main feature of the lake is the spectacular views of the towering Mt. Bachelor and the South Sister. Mornings and evenings are the best time to paddle board here, for perfect lighting and great ambiance.

This is not the place to go if you're seeking to escape everything, as it can get crowded, but this is the go-to place for water sports enthuaiasts. Elk Lake is a short drive along the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, 30-mins from Bend Oregon.

Deschutes River

Deschutes river central oregon

The Deschutes River gradually flows through Central Oregon, heading towards the Columbia River in the North. The temperate river boasts ample opportunities for scenic paddle boarding and an escape into the wild, no matter what your experience level is.

Drake Park is a good base to set up camp and explore. It’s set in the heart of downtown Bend, and there's a slow-changing current inland. From here you can paddle Bend’s whitewater park and try out the standing wave for a surf experience.

Head upstream to find solitude and instant immersion in the central Oregon high desert landscape. Or, paddle downstream through the Old Mill district to catch some live music from the Les Schwab Amphitheater.

East Lake at Newberry National Volcanic Monument

Newberry National Volcanic Monument East Lake

East Lake is located on the Newberry Volcanic Monument, just 30-minutes away from Bend. You need to pay a $10 admission entrance fee to the Monument. You’ll have access to waterfalls, lava chambers, hiking and mountain biking trails, and two major lakes (perfect for stand up paddle boarding).

With a depth of 185 feet, East Lake is surrounded by captivating forests and plenty of sandy beaches. The rocky landscape leading towards the water tells a story in lava flow, making this spot truly special.

Suttle Lake

Mangroove at Suttle Lake

Suttle Lake is buried deep into Deschutes National Forest, approximately 30 miles from Bend along Highway 20. The alpine forest along the lakeshore is extremely dense, making this feel like a secret spot tucked away in the wilderness. 

The lake is about 250-acres, so there is plenty of space to explore by paddle board. Be aware of powerboats and the wake in the water. You’ll need to slot in your paddle session early in the morning to avoid the wind that whips across the lake.

Waldo Lake

Crystal clear water waldo lake

Waldo Lake is an impressive 10 square miles of water, set at an elevation of over 6400 feet. The shoreline has several coves, small bays, and multiple islands on the edge of the lake, perfect to explore with a touring SUP.

The water is crystal clear, providing an ideal mirror of Mt. Bachelor in the North, Sisters, Broken Top, and Diamond Peak to the south. This is a great place to plan for camping, there are some nearby campgrounds. But bring hiking footwear and possibly even a mountain bike to enjoy everything there is to offer at Waldo Lake.

Where to Paddle Board in South Oregon 

Southern Oregon, is a region known for its world class wine, whitewater rapids, and beautiful views. Here, you’ll find more lakes and national parks perfect for hiking and exploring by paddle board.

Emigrant Lake

Emigrant Lake southern Oregon

Emigrant Lake is located in southern Oregon, just minutes from the city center of Ashland. It’s a popular place for stand up paddle boarding for the locals. This lake is perfect for beginners because the water is mostly calm.

Afternoon winds can pick up, so it’s best to launch in the morning to avoid any choppy conditions.. Other activities include camping, fishing, picnicking, and hiking. There are 1,467 acres to explore, with a 12-mile shoreline. If you’re searching for the perfect trip for the whole family, Emigrant Lake may just be the place!

Applegate Lakes

Golden sand beach Applegate Lakes

Applegate Lakes is an incredibly scenic destination with golden sand beaches. The area is extremely well-maintained, with two campsites and pitches for RV parking with hookup available. There are also two designated swimming spots on the lake, just be careful of swimmers if you’re launching your SUP from here.

This spot is renowned for its wildlife. You’ll see several species of birds, and the fishing is exceptional. There is a general convenience store nearby, so you can keep your supplies topped up if you’re staying for a long weekend.

Howard Prairie Lake

Howard Prairie Lake SUP fishing

Calling all anglers! Howard Prairie Lake is the place to go for a weekend of SUP fishing. The 1.73 miles of shoreline is home to various trout and bass species. With the views of Mount Mcloughlin in the backdrop, there is no better place for casting a line and relaxing. There is a boat marina with ramps that are ideal for launching your SUP.

Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge

Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge

Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge is idyllic and peaceful. This place will take your breath away. The lake has a 9.5 mile paddling trail that is closed to motorized boats, so you’re guaranteed a peaceful paddle.

Along the trail, you’ll paddle through open water and pine forests, weaving your way through the marshland. As you can imagine, the wildlife spotting opportunities are incredible here!

Jackson F. Kimball State Park

Jackson Kimball State Park

Jackson F. Kimball State Park is another fantastic paddle boarding location for anyone who wants an adventure off the beaten track. You can choose to paddle either the basin or take the waterway routes to explore further, reaching Hood River that passes through the park.

Just be cautious of the water depth. Parts can get pretty shallow, so using stumpier river fins is a good idea, and inflatable paddle boards will excel in bumping off roots and rocks. Make sure you bring some bug spray too, – the mosquitoes can play havoc with your day if you don’t prepare for them!

Where To Rent SUP Equipment in Oregon 

Haven’t got your own SUP gear yet? No problem. Head to one of these paddle board rental stores in Oregon to get top-quality boards, book a lesson, or join a group tour. 

Top Tips For Paddle Boarding in Oregon

Women paddle boarding on a Lake

Non-motorized boating and paddling in Oregon come with specific rules and regulations from the USCG and state. Don’t get caught short while out on the water. Here are some top tips to keep you safe and have more fun while stand up paddle boarding:

  • Know your entrance and exit points when paddling on a lake or river
  • Familiarize yourself with currents and know how to swim across if needed
  • Wear a properly fitting PFD life jacket
  • Don’t overload your SUP, and always secure extra gear with bungee cords
  • Dress appropriately for the water temperatures as well as the air temperatures
  • Always check the weather and swell forecast before heading out
  • Don’t paddle alone – it’s more fun with friends!

Interactive Map

FAQ’S

🏆 Can you stand-up paddle board on Crater Lake?

Crater Lake is an incredible place in Oregon that many of us would dream of paddle boarding. While swimming is allowed, paddle boarding technically is not permitted. However, this doesn’t stop everyone. Some die-hard enthusiasts can be seen hiking up this volcano with an iSUP tucked away in a backpack. 


👍 Do paddle boards need to be registered in Oregon?

The state of Oregon requires paddle boards over 10’ in length to have a waterway access permit. This also applies to sailboats between 10’ and 11’ and other non-motorized vessels. Permits are transferable to other non-motorized boats, and children aged 13 or younger are exempt. 


🏝️ Where can you paddle board on the Oregon coast?

Paddle boarding Oregon’s coast can be a rush! The Pacific Ocean is wild at times, but in the summer months, it offers good swell and slightly warmer temperatures. Devil’s Lake, in Lincoln City, is a fantastic place to paddle board as it’s protected from the harsh winds. Pacific City and Coos Bay are also great spots to test out your SUP skills on the waves. 


❓ Where can I paddle board in Portland?

Portland has several fantastic paddle boarding locations. The best SUP spots to check out are Willamette River and Timothy Lake. These two places offer different paddling conditions, so you can find something fun to match your skill level.  


📦 Are there places to paddleboard in Bend Oregon?

Bend has been voted one of the best places to paddle board in the USA. Between Deschutes River and Sparks Lake, and all the hidden gems in between, you really are spoilt for choice! It’s no wonder why Bend is a paddle board dream destination.


📦 Where can I paddle board in Eugene Oregon?

Eugene is located fairly close to Oregon’s coast but is still within reach of some of the best central destinations. Willamette River passes through the city and offers great paddle board opportunities for beginners and intermediates. Fern Ridge Lake is a good place within a 30-minute drive of Eugene, ideal if you want to escape into Oregon’s nature for a peaceful paddle board session.

Abi Leach
Abi Leach

Surfer, paddle boarder, and ocean lover. She loves traveling and discovering new destinations all across the world. When she's not writing, she's exploring the outdoors and enjoying fresh air.


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