THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO WATERSPORTS IN KLAMATH COUNTY
Surrounded by volcanic mountains and and beautiful forests, the lakes and waters of Klamath County, provide incredible adventures. With more rivers, lakes and water activities possible than anywhere else in Oregon, it is little wonder why those looking for world-class water experiences are flocking to the region. Considered to be a mecca for paddling sports enthusiasts, this section of south-central Oregon will impress you with wild rivers and capture your heart with stunning natural beauty.
Klamath County’s waters are known for fantastic flat water paddle-boarding and canoeing on the largest lake in Oregon, kayaking or canoeing on smaller lakes under the shadows of mountains, and whitewater rafting on the “wild and scenic” designated Klamath River, which features iconic class 3, 4, and 5 rapids. No matter what type of paddling you like, you’ll find something to love in Klamath.
For most, the best introduction to the region comes in paddling the waters of Upper Klamath Lake. As Oregon’s largest lake, you will have numerous options for adventures. During the fall and spring months, an estimated two million ducks, geese, swans, and other migratory birds rest in the region. Paddling provides an intimate adventure to commune with the more than 260 species of birds that call the region home. While paddling anywhere on the lake is great, one must-paddle trip is to kayak or canoe along the 9.5 mile Upper Klamath Canoe Trail, which weaves through the marshes along the lakeshore. You will see birds, fish, and stunning views in all directions, as well as experience solitude. Start your adventure at the Rocky Point Resort, where boats of all kinds can be rented. Located just 30 minutes from downtown Klamath Falls, the resort also has camping and cabins, making it a great basecamp.
If paddling on your own seems a little intense or out of your comfort zone, Real Oregon Experience (ROE) provides paddling trips for all levels, including families. Ranging from lake adventures to river paddles in kayaks/SUPS and rafting experiences, going with a guide means you don’t have to worry about anything except showing up at the designated time. If you do book with ROE, consider taking their Wood River trip and experiencing the majestic blues of the water. With this company, you can also book fishing trips along the same waterways that you paddle, giving yet another awesome layer of water adventure in Klamath County.
Those hoping for a bit more of a developed boating experience should head north from Klamath Falls and explore Lake of the Woods. Known for great views, calm waters and incredible fishing, Lake of the Woods also has boat rentals of all kinds. Ranging from aluminum fishing boats, charter boats, patio boats and even paddle boats, families will have a blast on these waters. For another option, consider staying closer to Klamath Falls and renting a kayak with ROE.
While paddling the lakes is a great way to take in the sights, one of the main draws for water recreation enthusiasts is found on a wild and scenic river south of Klamath Falls. A whitewater rafting trip offers the adrenaline rush of rapids and a peek into the beauty the region’s wilderness. What makes this rafting trip so perfect for everyone is that the route is located between two dams, giving an even flow of water all year. With gorgeous scenery around every bend and warm water—at least for the Pacific Northwest—you’ll want to return to this 20-mile section of the river again and again.
Rafting down this stretch of the Klamath River rewards you with more than 40 different sections of rapids, including some that are rated class 4+, which are intense, powerful, but predictable. Whitewater rafting will get you up-close and personal with the “Hell’s Corner””section of the Upper Klamath, which is close to both Ashland and Klamath Falls but feels incredibly remote. If you have ever wanted to see just how wild and incredible the rivers of southern Oregon can be, there is no better place to go than the Upper Klamath River. There are numerous guides to go with, depending on where you are located, but High Country Expeditions and Momentum River Expeditions are two of the more respected guides around.
That’s just the start of your water adventures around Klamath County. Numerous river and lakes are still waiting for you to discover and share them. Surrounded by towering trees, with majestic mountains reflecting off the pristine waters, you’ll find yourself wondering why you kayak, raft, or paddle anywhere else. Be careful out here—as paddling Klamath County will forever raise the bar for what to expect when you hit the water.
Written by Douglas Scott for RootsRated in partnership with Discover Klamath Visitor and Convention Bureau.