Safety and Resources for Kayaking on the Columbia River between Longview and the Pacific Ocean

Feel free to print out this page to help you plan. Click here for a printer friendly version. This page is updated as we find new information and resources. Comments, suggestions, feedback? Please let us know!
Another good resource is the Estuary Partnership's Lower Columbia River Water Trail webpage.

Before you go--Weather, Navigation Information, Kayak Instructors & Retailers, Marine Supply
Before you go--File a Float Plan
If you find yourself in need of rescue
Bring along--Important Phone Numbers
Paddling Conditions--Tides
Paddling Conditions--Hazards
Paddling Conditions--Seasonal Weather Patterns
River Access Points Washington
River Access Points Oregon
Camping and Lodging
Directions to some launches on the Columbia & beyond
About Columbia River Kayaking

Before You Go: Weather, Navigation Information, Kayak Instruction & Retailers, Marine Supply.

Navigation & Boating Information

  • Oregon State Marine Board safety info & resources
  • Oregon State Marine Board launch sites -searchable database
  • PDXSeakayaker website and listserve Find other kayakers with whom to paddle, plus download blank log book pages and sea conditions rating system.
  • Rules of Navigation, a summary for boaters in general.
  • US Coast Guard Notice to Mariners Updated nautical chart information.
  • WDFW Vehicle Use Permit Parking at certain WA sites requires a WDFW decal.
  • Washington State Discover Pass needed for all state park access and many other state lands. Now transferable between two vehicles.
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    Before you go: File a float plan with responsible family or friends

    This is what the Coast Guard will ask for if they need to search

    If you find yourself in need of rescue

    Bring Along: Important Phone Numbers

    NOAA note on Columbia River Bar: The Columbia River bar can be very dangerous because of sudden and unpredictable current changes accompanied by breakers. It is reported that ebb currents on the north side of the bar attain speeds of 6 to 8 knots and that strong NW winds sometimes cause currents that set north in the area outside the jetties. In the entrance, the currents are variable and may reach a speed of over 5 knots on the ebb while the flood speed seldom exceeds 4 knots. The tidal current in the river is always modified by the river discharge, sometime to the extent that the flood current is indiscernible and the current ebbs continuously.

    Paddling Conditions: Tides

    The Columbia River is tidal up to Bonneville Dam, meaning the water level rises and falls. Below Longview, the river actually flows backwards twice a day. It is important to consult a tide book when planning a trip here. Other factors influencing tides include rain, dam release, low pressure systems, and distance from the ocean.

    Apply the correction table for your location. Generally the strongest current will be encountered in the middle of the time between the high and low, although the further upriver you are, the longer the ebb (outgoing) tide continues. At Skamokawa, WA for example, in the shipping channel, the ebb can continue 2 hours after local low tide.

    It's important to consult the Current predictions for 2014 for more specific information. The Fisheries Bonneville dam release data can also be helpful for knowing if there is a surge of dam water headed downriver.

    Tides effect navigation by making scenery look different. At high tide, low islands may be covered; dead end sloughs may beckon; beaches may disappear. On an ebb tide, one may get stuck in the soft mud of a slough or on mid-river sand bars. Know what the tide is doing when you pull a kayak up on the beach so it doesn't steal your boat. Allow an extra margin for ship wakes for the same reason.

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    Paddling Conditions: Hazards

    Paddling Conditions: Seasonal Weather Patterns

    River Access Points: East to west WA side

    searchable database of launch sites provided by Oregon State Marine Board
    Lower Columbia River Water Trail

    River Access Points: East to west OR side

    searchable database of launch sites provided by Oregon State Marine Board
    Lower Columbia River Water Trail

    Camping & Lodging heading down river

    No Camping

    Contact Us
    About Columbia River Kayaking

    © 2014, Columbia River Kayaking, LLC