Oregon rivers and coastal kayaking

Hello. My wife & I are novice - intermediate kayakers. We are planning a trip to the Oregon coast in May. We both have 14 ft sea kayaks. Questions :

1 - Are you able to paddle upstream from the coastal areas of most of the rivers where they meet the ocean ? ie: Rogue, Coquille, Coos, Umpqua rivers.

2 - Can anyone recommend some coastal ocean kayaking for novices ? Was considering the coves of Port Orford.

I sincerely appreciate anyone’s suggestions or advice.

something to consider
Something to consider is that Oregon has a mandatory inspection registration as part of their process of keeping invasives out. Not sure if it is required if you stick to salt water. Details at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/conservationstrategy/invasive_species/quagga_zebra_mussel.asp

On invasives, make sure your kayaks are clean and dry before you head out, as water and dirt are triggers for stopping you at most inspection stations.

If you don’t get local advice
I know some folks who have paddled out of Port Orford, will try to contact them to post here.

In the mean time you don’t really say much about your coastal paddling experience. Can you paddle out through surf if you have to, self rescue in surf, do you understand coastal currents and tides.? The coves there are protected from Northwest swell I believe. This time of year we can have huge northwest swells on the pacific with huge waves on the oregon coast. Make sure you check the local forecasts and proceed cautiously. A protected cove area can be a nightmare in certain conditions make sure you talk with locals before paddling.

You mention you have 14’ “seakayaks” ?

I noticed there is an outfitter call “South Coast Tours” or something like that. You might want to contact them and go for a guided paddle first, before doing it on your own, in an unknown spot.

Also check out this page


Oregon paddling from estuary into sea is expert water. There are stories.

Have you experienced the Oregon coast ?

The following inland area examples are suitable for an intermediate:




don,t mess around the mouth
Take the advice already given and stay away from bars–the kind where river currents meet ocean waves. Pacific City can be tame enough–at times.

May can be an unpredictable time for

– Last Updated: Jan-30-15 10:59 PM EST –

weather here in Oregon, particularly along the coast. Wind is a consistent concern so be prepared to be blown out from any paddling in the ocean. 50'F water temperature for the ocean so if you go out, be prepared for immersion. Tidal fluctuations in the estuaries are another important factor and can affect currents significantly. Know before you go.

I've paddled Port Orford. Not really a novice place due to the wind potential and fog. There is an outfitter in the local area that could guide you if conditions permit but not a good beginner spot.

Take a look at Sunset Bay, up by Coos Bay, if you are eager to get on the saltwater. It's fairly well protected there. Generally an easy sand beach entry but like I said before, the wind is not your friend. Check marine weather forecasts before hand and ask around if you are unsure.

River estuaries that I have paddled and would consider okay for novice would be Waldport, Newport, Nehalem, Sand Lake, but look for put-ins a bit inland in an attempt to diminish wind influences. Netarts Bay would also be okay if the tide range was not large.

The key thing is look on the internet for outfitters/paddleshops that operate in the area that you are interested in and visit them when you arrive to get local conditions. I'm not sure what part of the country you are coming from but the ocean is not just one big lake. Big tide changes around May 16-20 so be particularly careful around this time.

Do more research, ask around some more, decide what you really want to do. The Oregon coast is a beautiful and fun place but it requires planning and preparation. If in doubt don't go out and live to paddle another day.

Edit: and you will need to get an invasive species permit ($5) You can buy online through ODFW and print it yourself. Instructions on their website or buy at sporting goods retail store.

I was going
to point this out. Some of the river entrances are highly challenging, though that depends greatly upon conditions (wind, waves, fog, etc.), tides, river current, and shipping.

Cape Disappointment at the mouth of the Columbia is notoriously rough - so much so, it is the site where the coast guard teaches boathandling (though much of what they categorize as “boats” are coastal ships).

The other river mouths are not that rough (generally), but conditions can still be quite severe. One advantage of your plan is that if conditions are bad, one can paddle the river and avoid the coast/river mouth.

The water is cold (sub 50F is possible), the weather is capricious (more so than in Calif., even when compared to the “Lost Coast” N. of San Francisco), so keep informed on expected changes to conditions.


try the Trask

Invasive permit
Was not aware of the need for an invasive permit. Thank you for the heads up. I will be sure to get one prior to our trip. Much thanks

For the best
If you get up to the top of Oregon, you could try the Columbia–not at the coast, but upstream. I would recommend putting in at Rainier–at the city dock, not at the boat launch ramp.

If you cross the river, keep an eye out for ships; they are moving faster than you might think. Also watch for sea lions at times. They’re thick in the river right now.

It is best to stay in the bays and protected estuaries. Get comfortable with the tides, and the interaction with wind before you try river mouths and the open Pacific.

Siltcoos Canoe trail
I paddled with a friend on the Siltcoos Canoe trail, it does go out to the ocean, But due to the wind that day, we did not go all the way out. Here is a link: http://www.oregonlive.com/outdoors/index.ssf/2009/04/siltcoos_canoe_trail_takes_pad.html

Google/Bing oregon canoe trails, and you might be able to find more. It does not hurt to connect with a local paddle group or local outfitter that may have guided paddles using your own boats, but they would understand the tides and weather for safe paddling.