Clackamas River Rafting

The Clackamas River originates from Olallie Lake and flows northwesterly through the Cascade Mountains before flowing into the Willamette River. The river carves a very impressive gorge through basalt rock and the river dances beneath old growth Douglas-fir. This river was added to the Federal Wild and Scenic River System in 1988. The Clackamas River received its name from the Clackamas Indian tribe that once lived on the river.

The Clackamas River is the closest whitewater river to Portland and is perfect for those who are on a time budget. Since the Clackamas River drainage only has a peak of 3500’, the optimal time to run the Clackamas River is in the spring and early summer months for larger rapids (from March through June). However, as the water levels begin to drop, the Clackamas River begins to change character and in the Summer months (July and August), the river becomes a tighter, more technical and very fun run! During the Summer months we run half-day trips on the Clackamas River, which is essentially an excerpt of the rivers’ best rapids!

The Clackamas River Full-Day Trip

On the Clackamas River one may encounter numerous rapids, incredible scenery, Rocky Mountain Elk, pine martins, osprey, bald eagles or even the northern spotted owl! The thick and lush riverside riparian vegetation, make this river a forested gem! The section of the Clackamas River that we run commercially, is known as the ‘Upper Clackamas’. This portion of the river is filled with class III+ and class IV rapids like; Powerhouse, Carter’s Bridge Falls, Hole in the Wall, Toilet Bowl and Bob’s Hole.

Our full-day adventure begins with a beautiful drive along the Clackamas River, where most people are wide-eyed at what the day will include. The trip begins with a thorough paddling, safety and historical briefing of the river and then its time to hit the rapids! There is a small warm-up before our first major rapid called Powerhouse (class III+). From there, we will paddle through countless rapids and witness breath-taking scenery. A little over halfway we will stop for a much needed break and have a great lunch. After lunch awaits the some of the best and most famous rapids of the day. The trips concludes at Memaloose (where your vehicles are conveniently located).

Our full day trips on the Clackamas River meets at 10:00am at Memaloose and the trip ends near 3:30pm. This trip will give one the chance to see some of the various listed wildlife above, as well as many big rapids! One of the great advantages of the full-day trip (besides the higher water and larger waves), is the beautiful six mile uppermost section of the run. This section includes remote water, more chances for seeing wildlife and many big and challenging rapids!

Adobe PDF Download Itinerary for Full Day Clackamas River Trip

Full-Day Trip



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The Clackamas River Half-Day Trip

If your time is in a pinch and you would love to have a great river trip without spending the whole day on the river, or your group only has a few hours to spare their hectic schedules, then our new half-day trips are perfect. We travel 8 miles through some of the rivers’ more famous rapids. The rivers’ lower water levels turns the river into an exciting and technical class III+ run. For almost the entire half-day portion of the trip, the river is filled with back-to-back rapids and beautiful calm pools. Our half-day trips meet at 9:30am and 1:30pm, so no matter how full your schedule is, a few hours of your time will be great retreat for yourself!

The Clackamas River is famous for its numerous big rapids, easy access and close proximity to the Portland/Vancouver area! River Drifters was one of two original companies that were allowed to commercially run the Clackamas, come see the difference of what an experienced outfitter will make!

Adobe PDF Download Itinerary for Half Day Clackamas River Trip

Half-Day Trip



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***This institution is an equal opportunity provider and operates under a special use permit from the USDA Forest Service.

Who Can Raft the Clackamas?

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The Clackamas River is perfect for the adventurous beginning rafter as well as the seasoned veteran during the spring months. In the late spring and summer, the Clackamas River is perfect for families and groups of almost all ages. During the spring (March through mid-May) the minimum age on the Clackamas River is twelve and from mid-May on, the minimum age is six.

River Drifters has full-day and half-day trips on the Clackamas River that is suitable for the whole family! For the younger folks and the ones’ who get chilled easily, hold off until June to do a full-day or even July/August to do a half-day! There is plenty of nearby riverside camping sites available. So if you would like a great adventure getaway that is close to Portland, give the Clackamas River a shot! It just may surprise you what an exceptional wilderness-like run there is, that is virtually in Portland’s back yard! Or if you are visiting the area but you are short in time, then this is the river adventure for you!

What We Provide

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Since the water and air temperatures are cooler in the spring and fall months, River Drifters provides all the gear necessary to stay comfortable on your trip (wetsuits, paddle jackets and helmets)!

For a comprehensive list of things to bring for all weather, please see our Spring and Fall Trip List!

Clackamas River Directions

Meeting Place: Memaloose Parking Area
GPS Waypoint: 45.19673, -122.21693

From Portland/Vancouver Area:

Travel on to I 205 and continue either north or south to the Clackamas Exit (exit 12A highway 224 Estacada); travel east and follow the signs to Estacada. Go through Estacada, continuing on HWY 224 (SE) toward North Fork Reservoir, approximately 10 miles east of Estacada. After you pass the reservoir and marina, look for a large parking area on left (old truck weighing station, clearly marked Memalose) where River Drifters will be parked in a van with rafts, easily noticeable.

Please allow 45+ minutes traveling time! If running late or lost please call 800.972.0430 or 800.226.1001!

Getting to the Clackamas River

Starting Point Estimated Driving Time
Portland / Vancouver 30 – 60 minutes (depending on location)

Clackamas River Camping & Lodging


As you drive along the Clackamas River along HYW 224 you will pass a number of great camping areas: Memaloose, Lazy Bend, Carter Bridge, Armstrong, Fish Creek, Roaring River, Sunstrip, Indian Henry & many more. Most of these camp sites are within 15 minutes of our meeting site and most camp areas have drinking water, fire pits & restrooms available.

Learn more about camping in the Mt. Hood National Forest

Local Accomodations

  • The Resort at the Mountain in Welches: 800-669-7666
  • Sandy Inn Best Western in Sandy: 503-668-7100
  • Red Fox Motel in Estacada: 503-630-4243