Three River Floats on the Clackamas

This story is published in cooperation with Willamette Week and Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory.

Dreaming of escaping the summer heat by getting on the water? River tubing offers a fun, family-friendly way to cool down, enjoy the sunshine and soak up nature. But who wants to deal with traffic and crowds when getting to the river?

The Lower Clackamas River near Portland is a popular choice for summertime floats. However, this popularity means crowded launch sites and overflowing parking lots, especially on hot days. The Barton Park to Carver Park stretch is a prime example, with hours long wait times just to get in the parking lots a common experience.

Instead, try one of these alternative river floats to skip the frustration and maximize your time on the water—oh, and don’t forget your life jacket!

Wondering what else you can do this summer in Mt. Hood Territory? Check out for trip ideas, upcoming events and places to stay.

Lower Milo McIver Boat Ramp to Barton Park

  • Distance: 6.3 miles
  • Time: Estimated 3-4 hours
  • Cost: $5 day-use permit (Milo McIver) + $8 day-use permit (Barton Park)
  • Restrooms at both parks

Less than a 15 minute drive from Barton Park, Milo McIver State Park is open 7am – 9pm in the summer and is a great alternative route from the busy Barton to Carver float. Start at the lower Milo McIver boat ramp and meander down the Clackamas as you pass towering Douglas firs. Make sure to keep an eye out for eagles and osprey.

Upper Milo McIver to Lower Milo McIver

  • Distance: 2.29 Miles
  • Time: Estimated 1.5 hours
  • Cost: $5 day-use permit at Milo McIver State Park
  • Multiple restrooms throughout the park

Located entirely in Milo McIver State Park, this float starts off with a class II+ rapid, but after that, t’s a relaxing float. It’s a popular route for those staying in the park overnight or visitors wanting to do several laps in a day. Please note this can be an advanced float as the first rapid can be challenging for tubers. Recommended floating season is from July through September when the river is calmer.

Carver Park to Riverside Park

  • Distance: 4.93 miles
  • Time: Estimated 2-3 hours
  • Cost: $8 day-use permit (Carver Park)
  • Restrooms at both parks

Enjoy great views as you pass by farms and watch as the land transitions from rural to urban at the bottom of the Clackamas River watershed. There is no parking fee for Riverside Park, and the drive from Riverside to Carver Park is a short 12 minutes.

What To Bring Tubing

Whether you’re heading out for a short float or a full day, there are a few things you won’t want to forget. Luke Spencer, owner of Clackamas River Outfitters, suggests these items for your next float. And if you need any of these, visit their retail location in Estacada before hitting the water.

  • Personal Floatation Device (life jacket)
  • Inner tube or raft
  • Paddle (if using a raft)
  • Whistle
  • Drinking water
  • Sunscreen
  • Sun hat
  • Sun glasses
  • Snacks
  • Dry bag
  • First aid kit
  • Trash bag

What You “Otter” Do

When on the water you “otter” bring a life jacket, be mindful of other groups tubing and be sure to keep any trash with you so it can be disposed of properly at the end of your trip. And before heading out, you “otter” make sure you have a plan for a shuttle or second vehicle to get back to your car.

Head to to plan your own Clackamas River adventure.

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