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 the hi-tech, environmental, agricultural, performing arts and watersports worlds, 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.

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 brings her love of learning and love of adventure to every Columbia River Kayaking program she leads. She is 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 is 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. 

Connor Emlen-Petterson

Connor Emlen-Petterson

Guide

Connor has spent most of his life thus far in the Columbia-Pacific region, and has worked for Columbia River Kayaking as a seasonal interpretive guide since 2016. He brings to his job an enthusiasm for the history and terrain of his childhood home.An aspiring biologist, he holds an especial interest in its wildlife. He completed his bachelor of science degree in Olympia, Washington in 2020. Connor is currently involved in environmental conservation and restoration projects farther north, working for a nonprofit organization in the Salish Sea region.

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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