Those who live in the Pacific Northwest love the outdoors. With the recent popularity in paddleboards and kayaks, we thought we’d share some of our favorite spots, along with some safety tips and regulations, whether you’re navigating the water in Oregon or Washington.
Get the Right Permits
In both Oregon and Washington, special permits are required.
In Oregon, any non-motorized boat less than 10 feet long does not require a Waterway Access Permit. But, if your kayak or paddleboard is 10 feet or longer, you’ll need one to avoid a fine from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife or the Oregon State Marine Board. Get yours here.
If you’re on the water in Washington, kayaks and paddleboards are subject to all boating laws and regulations. If your non-motorized boat is 16 feet or longer, you’ll need to register it with the state. This can be done at any county auditor’s office. Additionally, you must carry a Natural Investment Permit or pay a $7/day fee if you plan to launch from any Washington state park. Get your permit here.
Check out the Free Paddle Sports Safety Course, endorsed by Washington State to learn how to keep you and your family safe on the water. A quick list of safety tips include:
- Always wear a properly fitting life jacket or personal floatation device.
- Never boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Never paddle alone. If you must go alone, create a float plan and share it with someone you know.
- Never overload your boat or paddleboard.
- Stay alert at all times.
- Know the weather conditions and get out of the water if you feel unsafe for any reason.
Great Spots for Kayaking and Paddle Boarding
Juanita Beach Park (Washington): Located in Kirkland, Washington, Juanita Beach Park is a beginner’s paradise. If you’re looking for a challenge amid the calm waters, try paddleboard yoga offered during the week. More here.
Lake Wenatchee (Washington): This crystal-clear, glacial-fed lake is a statewide favorite among paddlers of all levels. It’s also easy to navigate, and even more fun to enjoy on a sunny day. Check out the state park and nearby Leavenworth, Washington. More info here.
Old Mill District (Oregon): It may be known for whitewater rapids, but portions of the Deschutes River offer wonderful paddling opportunities for all skill levels. Launching from Farewell Bend Park and drifting to Drake Park in downtown Bend is a favorite with locals and tourists. More about the Old Mill District and paddling here.
Sammamish River (Washington): This immaculate river located just outside Seattle is a paradise for beginners and those who appreciate slow-flowing waterways. Best of all, there are 13 miles of river to explore and enjoy. Get directions and other information here.
Sauvie Island Wildlife Refuge (Oregon): Just north of Portland, you’ll find Gilbert River and Sturgeon Lake on Sauvie Island. These kayak and paddleboard-friendly areas are great for experienced paddlers. Details and directions here.
Waldo Lake (Oregon): Regarded as one of the best places to paddle in the world, Waldo Lake is a natural alpine lake located in the Cascade Mountains. Other nearby lakes include Timothy Lake, Crescent Lake and Blue River Lake. Details and a map here.
Get Your Paddle Gear at Coastal
We carry life jackets, paddles, kayaks, and paddleboards for everyone in the family. While you’re there, check out the aisles of camping and outdoor gear to make every summer adventure that much more enjoyable.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where to buy a paddleboard?
Paddleboards are available for purchase at many outdoor retailers. Coastal carries paddleboard, including sit-in and sit-on kayaks as well as paddles for all skill levels.
What to wear kayaking?
Experts urge paddlers to wear a personal floating device while kayaking. In addition, dress in layers and anticipate the weather conditions when choosing your layers of clothing. If you’re on the water on a sunny day, but sure to wear a hat, eye protection, and sunscreen.
How to transport a kayak?
Depending on what you drive, a standard size kayak (10 feet and shorter), can be transported with an approved rooftop carrying system and ratchet straps. You’ll also need front and rear anchor wires on both Oregon and Washington highways. Trailers with kayak transportation systems are also a good way to bring your kayak to your favorite lake, river, or stream.
Where can I paddleboard?
Paddle boarding is easiest on slow-moving water, such as rivers, ponds, and lakes. There are some adventurers who take paddle boarding to the next level, learning how to ride rapids.
How to get on a paddleboard?
First, place your board in the water. Then place both knees on the board with them evenly distributed over the centerline of the board. Take a few strokes while on your knees to get into position, then lay the paddle flat across the board in front of you. With your hands on the paddle, move your feet up to where your knees were. Start with your dominant foot. Finally, stand up while keeping a hold of the paddle.