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The Hood River Rafting Guidebook
The Hood River in far northern Oregon offers rafter and kayakers the best all around Class IV whitewater in the Columbia Gorge. Options to launch on the West Fork, East Fork or below the confluence on the Main Hood provides fun, moderately challenging whitewater that can be broken into shorter sections or run as a massive day trip. Expect fantastic scenery, intimate gorges, wildlife, and wonderful geology. Given its location in the dense Oregon forest, wood debris is a big hazard on this stretch.
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West Fork Hood River – Class II, III & IV
The whitewater on the West Fork is 5-8 miles of fun, forgiving, continuous Class IV boulder gardens that only gets better as the water rises. Multiple options to extend the run upstream and downstream beyond the confluence with the East Fork, make this the best Class IV rafting/kayaking run in the Gorge. Commercial rafting companies put in at the Lost Lake Bridge where the access is relatively easy. The Lake Branch put-in is one mile upstream and adds a beautiful gorge and some solid Class III-IV rapids. The log jam on this section recently blew out, opening the section to rafts that may have avoided the arduous walk around.
The put-in for the Upper West Fork of the Hood River is three miles upstream of the Lost Lake Bridge and supports two beautiful Class IV gorges, and one Class V rapid that is typically portaged on the left at the end of the second gorge.
Dee Bridge to Columbia River – Class II, III & IV
The Dee Put-in on the East Fork provides boaters two miles of scenic Class III on the way to the confluence with the West Fork. Often looked at solely as a way to access the Hood, this brief stretch is sneakily beautiful with a bunch of fun warm-up rapids. The East Fork has no gauges so boaters typically eyeball the river from the Dee Bridge and make a decision about where to put-in.
From the East-West Fork confluence of the Hood to the Columbia, you will find a river that provides both excellent Class IV whitewater and scenery. Wide open boulder gardens with very few consequences allows boaters to explore the abundant features on a level unmatched in the Columbia Gorge. The scenery combines canyon walls and lush forests supporting wildlife like bears, ospreys, and bald eagles.
When the East Fork is too low, park at Punchbowl Falls and carry your boat a long way to the river.