Spending time in Portland this summer? You don’t need to travel far for a refreshing dip in the Columbia River.
Spending time in Portland this summer? You don’t need to travel far for a refreshing dip in the Columbia River. You’ll find sandy beaches, sun-drenched shorelines, and shady riverside hideouts. Here are some of our favorite swimming holes and tips for staying safe in the mighty Columbia. Grab your beach towel and we’ll see you in the river!
This family-friendly beach on Sauvie Island is popular with sunbathers and swimmers. The long, sandy shore is great
for building sand castles or flying kites on a windy day. You’ll need a permit to park, and swimmers should beware that the shoreline can drop off suddenly. Our advice? Make a day of it and take home a flat of ripe berries from one of Sauvie island’s many u-pick farms.
Kelley Point Park
Why enjoy one river when you can enjoy two? Kelley Point Park sits conveniently at the confluence of Portland’s iconic rivers, the Willamette and the Columbia. Kelley Point offers great access for bikers; bonus points for getting to the river on your own two wheels! A paved walking trail circles the point, and you can explore the sandy shores. With mature shade trees, bathrooms, and picnic tables, bring a blanket and stay all day. A word of caution: the City of Portland recommends no swimming at Kelley Point Park due to swift currents and drop-offs.
City-dwelling sun-seekers love Broughton Beach. If a big sandy beach, lots of sunshine, and a cool, crisp Columbia floats your boat, Broughton Beach is for you! Come early to snag a parking spot.
Looking for a sandy beach where you can picnic and swim while enjoying stunning Mt. Hood views? Look no further than Vancouver’s Wintler Park. On the banks of the Columbia, this park also marks the end of the 5-mile Renaissance Trail.
Located just upstream from Portland in Fairview, this 67-acre park has one of the largest public boat launches in Oregon. But it’s not just for boaters; Chinook Landing offers a swimming area, picnic tables, restrooms, and walking trails.
Visiting your favorite Columbia River beach?
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Ready to Jump in the River?
Before hitting the water, check the conditions and make sure it’s safe to swim. Use Riverkeeper’s Swim Guide mobile app to find new beaches, get directions, and view real-time water quality updates. We use volunteer-collected E. coli data to flag our beaches as safe or unsafe for swimming.
We all deserve to swim, fish, kayak, windsurf, kiteboard, or boat on our rivers. The Columbia’s water quality is generally safe for swimming, but use caution. State and federal agencies collect very little site-specific data to inform the public about water quality for recreation. Follow our safety suggestions to help protect yourself.
We hope you enjoy the river and stay safe this summer. While it may appear calm, the Columbia is a powerful river, and swim beaches don’t have lifeguards. Parents should watch swimming children closely. The river can have swift currents and water depths can vary. It’s always a good idea to wear a life jacket.
Keep these safety suggestions in mind:
- Beware of fast currents and steep drop-offs.
- Know your limits and swim close to shore.
- Don’t swim alone or under the influence of alcohol.
- Avoid industrial areas and discharge pipes.
- Avoid swimming in urban areas after heavy rains.
- Shower after swimming; don’t swim if you have open cuts or wounds; and don’t drink the water.
- Check Swim Guide for up-to-date E. coli levels at popular recreation sites.
This feature was originally published in
River Currents 2017 Issue 2 Newsletter – Read it Now
In this Issue: From Source to Sea, Oil-by-Rail: Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Breath, People's Climate March Hits the Water, and more.