About Us

Kayaking the Lower Columbia River and Beyond

 Tours and Instruction Since 2007

Our mission is to provide our clients with safe and enjoyable experiences
that emphasize place-based education, skill development, and adventure
in the contexts of paddlesports and the great outdoors.
We strive to offer services that balance accessibility and profit,
and to look after our people and our environment.

History

Columbia River Kayaking specializes in taking groups out on the water on the lower Columbia River, and we would be happy to put together a custom kayaking trip for your group. We can tailor your experience to emphasize education, whether you’re looking to learn about the Chinookan people who lived along the Columbia River for thousands of years; the Lewis and Clark expedition, who first explored this area by land for the United States; natural history, including plants, birds, salmon, forests and geology; kayaking skills, from boat handling to navigation to rolling a kayak, or we can just set you up for good old fun and games on the water.

We have had groups here in the past that include various Boy Scout troops from as far away as Wisconsin, Lewis and Clark College’s Masters in Education program, ecumenical and church groups, schools from Washington, Oregon and Idaho and families of all sizes. Even the 3/2 Stryker brigade of US Army has come kayaking with us. We offer generous discounts to groups larger than ten, and to organizations of all kinds.

How We Got Started

Some of our guides have been leading tours out of Skamokawa since 1998. In 2007, the guides came together to form a multi-member LLC and Columbia River Kayaking was offically born.

Our Founders

Ginni Callahan was the brain and the brawn behind the company’s creation. She led the other guide-owners until 2017 when her Baja company grew so much it required her full attention. Current guide-owners Andrew and Levi were also among the original LLC partners.

Road Scholar (Elderhostel)

Andrew developed and began leading our  multi day Road Scholar (originally called Elder Hostel) program in 1999 as an employee of the old Skamokawa Center. In 2009 CRK took over as provider for the program. We average 12-13 programs per season between the months of April and October.

Located at Viewpoint Landing

In 2013 we moved our headquarters to and opened our retail shop in the historical steamboat landing building, now known as Viewpoint Landing, just a few hundred yards away from the old location. The landing offers lodging with unmatched views and well appointed suites.

Team

Dedicated, Adventurous Storytellers and Friends

Kyleen Austin

Kyleen Austin

Owner, Guide and Coach

Kyleen has a life-long background in outdoor exploration, has led programs for Columbia River Kayaking since 2014. She has BAs in Music and English, and an MBA. Her talents span a number of areas, but her favorites are making music and kayaking. In 2019, Kyleen undertook a three-month 1100-mile solo kayaking journey from Ketchikan, Alaska to her home here on Puget Island. She is also on the Board of Directors of the Wildlife Center of the North Coast in Astoria, OR.

Andrew Emlen

Andrew Emlen

Owner, Guide and Coach

Andrew holds a Masters degree in Environmental Education, and has been leading kayaking trips in Skamokawa since Skamokawa Center first opened in 1998. The quintessential renaissance man, Andrew can identify birds by their calls, play cello and most other instruments with strings, recite Lewis and Clark journal entries from memory, and shear the sheep that he raises on his small farm in Skamokawa. Any day on the water with Andrew is an education and an adventure.

Levi Helms

Levi Helms

Owner and Guide

Levi grew up in Wahkiakum County and started kayaking with Columbia River Kayaking in 2005. He has his BCU Three Star Sea Kayak certification. Levi is also a builder and home gardener. He loves to share personal tales of growing up in Skamokawa. An experienced wildcrafter, Levi's knowledge of our local flora and fauna is unmatched. His blend of skills and warm personality make every CRK progam special.

Beth Mora

Beth Mora

Guide

Beth has been bringing her love of learning and love of adventure to Columbia River Kayaking program participants since 2019. She’s a published author and national speaker. During the off-season, you can find her writing, teaching composition to young students, or adding to her ever-expanding nature journal. She’s a former certified rehabilitation RN and presently a Certified Wilderness First Responder. Beth is a member of the local historical society and adds to her Lower Columbia history book collection often. She has a particular interest in Native American culture and is a Lewis and Clark enthusiast. Whether slipping through sloughs or banging through soft breakers, Beth feels at home with a paddle in her hands and works hard to make your time on the water a memorable experience. 

Chad Skeers

Chad Skeers

Guide

Chad Skeers is a Pacific Northwest native and lifetime nature enthusiast. He studied biology at the University of Washington before becoming a monk in a Zen monastery at the age of 23, living at a monestary in France.  Now, ten years later, he is back in the Pacific Northwest and ready to show you the beauty and serenity of the lower Columbia River and we welcome Chad to the CRK crew.  Will he show you the secrets of the cosmos? Will he help you to find a good beach for your picnic? Maybe both, but definitely the second one.  When he’s not kayaking, he’s drawing, painting, or hiking around our beautiful region. Come meet him for a tour on the Columbia.

Paula Marx Rush

Paula Marx Rush

Guide

Paula Marx Rush is a business owner and a caregiver who is Certifed as an End of Life Doula. She has a BS degree in Social Science from Portland State University. As part of an internship with Oregon Historical Society’s Folklife Program, she transcribed interviews with the nine Confederated Tribes of Oregon. These transcriptions are available to Portland public school teachers to use in their classrooms. This experience ignited an appreciation and love for cultural history, genealogy and the many tribes who live, care for and steward these lands.

Paula finds she is always learning something new and her cheerfulness, comfort, and knowledgeable presence for clients on hospice carries over into her connection with paddlers.

Lisa Unsworth

Lisa Unsworth

Guide

Lisa began guiding with us on the Lower Columbia River in 2021. When kayaking, Lisa draws from her coaching experience in the NCAA. She coached women’s soccer for 24 years and still maintains her educational skills in the workforce. She has paddled flat water, whitewater and surf in Oregon and Washington for over 15 years. A highlight trip in 2018 included an 11 day paddle down the Douro River in Portugal.

Cedar Mora

Cedar Mora

Guide

Cedar is just this guy, you know? He loves learning and sharing about things like weather patterns, the Big One, economic trends, and chess. He brings this enthusiasm for the world and people around us to every day on the water. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science but recently has been enjoying time away from the keyboard. When not guiding for CRK he runs his own business as a contractor and computer help guy.

Wren Hendriks

Wren Hendriks

Guide

Raised in a maritime family from San Pedro, Wren has spent her entire life on the water. She fell in love with kayaking during a trip to the Everglades when she was nine years old, slinking through alligator riddled swamps and ducking beneath mangrove thickets dripping with multi-colored snakes. In 2010, Wren moved to Northern California to paddle the crystalline lakes and rivers of the redwood forest. In 2015, she came to Portland to buy her first sailboat, and has been cruising around the Columbia River ever since. Wren joined the CRK guide crew in 2022 and is delighted to share her knowledge of boater safety and waterway navigation with kayakers of all ages and levels of experience. 

Brad Uveges

Brad Uveges

Guide

Brad Uveges has been paddling the waters of the Northwest United States for over 17 years. He has participated in multiple Lumpy Waters Kayak Symposium events and trained with some of the regions top coaches in water safety and kayaking techniques. At home on the water, Brad makes his home next to the waters of the Lower Columbia River on Puget Island, with direct paddling access daily! Brad began assisting CRK program participants in 2021.

Lori Cagle

Lori Cagle

Outreach Coordinator

Lori joined the CRK crew in the position of Outreach Coordinator in 2021. Originally from Vancouver, Washington, Lori moved from North Carolina to her family homestead in Cathlamet in 2015 and has been busy raising Islandic sheep, operating a small CSA, selling her produce at local farmers markets, and leading the fiber arts events at the fairgrounds ever since. Lori brings over 30 years of experience with outreach to our company. A couple days per week, you will also find Lori at the River of Life Interpretive Center just down the street from our shop.

Jobs

Be a CRK Guide and/or Coach!

Many of our guides and coaches started out as avid sea kayaking enthusiasts. We have a guide training program tailored to the individual. Contact us to explore working with CRK.

Your Questions

How can I sign up for a kayaking tour or course?

You can always call us at 360-747-1044 or book through this website. Just browse our calendar or individual tour pages and select the "Book Now" button. We will guide you through the process from there.

What kind of wildlife might I see on a program?

This area is rich with wildlife. We have the famous Columbian White-tailed Deer, which has recently been downgraded from endangered to threatened thanks to 40+ years of private/public partnership in protecting the species. Other mammals you might see are elk, river otters, sea lions, harbor seals, nutria, and the rare bobcat, weasel, or mink. For an illustrated checklist of the birds of our area with graphs showing the abundance of each species throughout the year, check out eBird's illustrated checklist of Wahkiakum County

Can I kayak if I don't know how to swim?

Yes. We provide U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation devices (PFD's) to every participant. These PFDs will keep your torso and head above water should you end up out of the kayak and in the water, either on purpose or by accident. You will also be with one of our highly-trained guides/coaches who will quickly assist you getting back into your boat (or to shore). Bottom line, you will have every possible safety measure in place to make your experience fun!

What's' the best way to first experience the Lower Columbia River?

In a kayak with us! The lower Columbia River is heavily influenced by the ocean tides. It is also heavily used by the commercial shipping industry, sports fishers, motorized recreational crafts, and there is much one needs to know before heading out for a paddle. We have knowledgable guides and coaches who can help you have the richest possible experience kayaking this special place.

Accommodations

Where is the closest lodging?

Right above our shop! We are located in the historical Viewpoint Landing building which offers three spacious suites with fantastic views and an easy walk down the stairs to start your kayaking program. Landing guests who kayak with us receive a 15% discount on both lodging and kayaking.

Other local lodging options?

Our local Chamber of Commerce Accommodations webpage has a comprehensive and up-to-date listing of the other great options in the area - all of which are within a reasonable walk or drive to and from our shop.

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