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Clackamas River – McIver to Carver

a group of people on a bridge

One of the most popular rivers that our customers use our equipment on is the beautiful Clackamas River in Estacada, Oregon due to its proximity to Portland. It offers diverse sections that cater to a variety of skill levels.


The beauty of the Clackamas River for most of those who paddle it is the proximity. It’s only about 20 minutes from Portland and a very popular section especially in the hot summer months. Because we get a lot of questions about this section we’ll outline some of the usual options.

Upper McIver Ramp to Lower McIver Ramp

This 45-minute section starts and ends within McIver Park. It starts with a class II+ but after that it’s a pretty nice float with some easy class I rapids. Very popular for those who are staying in the park overnight or want to do several laps. An option is to leave a bicycle at the lower ramp and use it as a shuttle to retrieve your car at the upper ramp. Be aware that McIver Park requires a $ 5-day use permit which you purchase at the kiosk at the front gate.

McIver to Barton

Starting at either upper or lower McIver boat ramp you can enjoy a nice easy 3-4 hour float to Barton Park. There are typically less people doing this run due to the longer travel time to get to McIver. It’s a beautiful section of water and easy to navigate. Fun for the entire family. Be aware that McIver Park and Barton Park require a $5 day-use permit which you purchase at the kiosks at the front gates.

Barton to Carver

By far the most popular section to run because it’s the closest to Portland. Put in at Barton can be insanely crowded and can attract some unsavory characters on occasion but if you arrive early and plan your float on a weekday you’ll enjoy an easy family-friendly trip that will get the kids excited with a few splashy rapids but nothing more than a class I. Depending on flow rates this run is about 4 hours and requires you to drive two cars or hire a shuttle service. Under our “resources” link on the left, you can find a few outfits that we recommend using as a shuttle.

McIver to Carver

For those interested in a full day of floating you can go all the way from McIver to Carver. Depending on flow rates, this takes approximately 7-8 hours. Plan on taking a few breaks and pack a lunch and enjoy the beauties of the Clackamas River.

The Lower Clackamas from Barton to Carver is a scattering of class II rapids and perfect for beginners trying to get a feel for the water.

Kayaker Sam Drevo explains what is so magical about the Clackamas River in Travel Oregon Magazine’s feature video:

Check out this interactive map showing Mciver Park (A), Barton Park (B), and Carver Boat Launch (C).

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