One of the best parts of learning to raft or kayak is joining a community of people who view recreation, travel and adventure as a necessity in life. They like nothing better than to come together, paddle through the most scenic landscapes, laugh around a campfire, and celebrate the rivers that helped them realize this fulfilling and passionate lifestyle.
Whitewater events bring together new and old friends, reminding us of the vast community of like-minded whitewater enthusiasts out there. Be sure to hit up one, or all, of the spring 2012 line-up of whitewater festivals and races in the Columbia River Gorge, even if you don’t plan on competing.
Northwest Creeking Competition: April 21-22
The most popular race for whitewater kayakers and rafters in Washington, Oregon and the entire Pacific Northwest, the Northwest Creeking Competition is two days full of races on two iconic whitewater rivers in southwestern Washington.
Saturday, April 21: East Fork of the Lewis River Events
- Downriver sprint, class III-IV
- Mass start raft race, 2-person teams
- Mass start kayak race
- BBQ hosted by Next Adventure
- Premier of Slippery When Wet by filmaker and paddler Shon Bollock and Shasta Boys Productions
Sunday, April 22: Canyon Creek Events
- Downriver sprint, class IV-V
- Downriver raft challenge
Sandy River Showdown: Sat – Sun, April 28 – 29
The Sandy River Showdown is a weekend of races and events created by the whitewater mastermind Sam Drevo. Events offer opportunities for class II-III kayakers (hard and inflatable), runners, stand-up paddle boarders, and rafters. Located at Oxbow and Dodge State Parks, the race feels like a weekend paddling with new and old friends in the lush mountains of Oregon’s Coast range. The event benefits Team River Runner and We Love Clean Rivers.
Saturday, April 28: Sandy River Dam Derby
- Timed 7 mile race down class II-III whitewater
- Catered lunch for participants
- Awards Ceremony
Sunday April 29: Dodge & Burn Relay Race
- Biathlon race for individuals or teams on 8 miles of class I-II (III) whitewater and 3.5 miles of trail in Oxbow Park
- Catered lunch for participants
- Exhibition SUP sprint race
29th Annual Upper Clackamas Whitewater Festival: Sat – Sun, May 19-20
This festival simple can not be contained into one paragraph. The Upper Clack Whitewater Festival is one of the longest running whitewater events in the country. There is a race or activity for everyone…no matter your watercraft: rafts, catarafts, driftboats, playboats, inflatable kayaks, long boats and inner tube.
Clinics offer expert advice on the most pressing whitewater issues like shoulder health, dutch ovens, and kayaking techniques. With boat demos, company booths, music and so much whitewater action (and carnage) to watch you’ll want to come claim your campsite as early as possible!
Little White Salmon Extreme Kayak Race: Sun. June 9th
The Little White Salmon River, or L Dub, is what aspiring huckers and seasoned veterans dream about. The river’s packed class V+ whitewater comes in the form of technical rapids, waterfalls, slides and everything in between. Some say perfectly distributed, some say just perfect, the rapids on this stretch of river draw expert paddlers from across the globe. Competitors in the Little White Salmon Extreme Kayak Race are among the most technically skilled whitewater kayakers in the world, entering in teams of 2 to earn the title. This year’s event will be a qualifying event for the Whitewater Grand Prix, held later this year in Chile.
Note: competitors must register before the event. Due to the nature of the canyon, no spectators will be permited along the river. Of course, a party will follow.
White Salmon River Fest and Symposium: Sat. June 9th
Of course, the event we are most looking forward to is the 7th Annual White Salmon River Fest and Symposium, hosted by yours truly, Wet Planet.
The White Salmon River provides a year-round source for class II – V kayakers and rafters to get their fix: a great reason to celebrate it’s perpetual flow and world-class recreation opportunities. Founded on a mission to provide watershed education to the local river guiding professionals, the White Salmon River Fest and Symposium also provides opportunites for locals to learn about the environment and surrounding community within the river corridor.
The deconstruction of Condit Dam on the river’s lower stretch is changing the nature of recreation on the river for years to come. Join us in celebrating these new developments and get out to enjoy the whitewater!
In true whitewater festival fashion, there will also be several ways to get out on the river and compete on the White Salmon’s classic river stretches. In the past we have had Rattlesnake Rodeos, BZ Huck Fest, Middle White Relay Races, 8 Ball Sprints and more, all depending on water levels. Stay tuned for updates through May!
The event will feature:
- Kayak races and competitions on multiple sections of the river
- Community Raft Float for local residents
- Salmon Bake dinner
- Presentations on new presence of fish and Yakima tribe members, restoration along the river, and more.
- Raffle drawings
- Live music from the Shed Shakers