The Columbia River Gorge is chock-full of places to paddle this time of year, when the spring rain and snow melt have the rivers bulging with promise. So when I say that the Copper Dam section of the Hood River is my favorite place to paddle in the Gorge, fellow kayakers should take note. I love paddling here because of the fun and continuous Class II-III rapids and amazing views of Mount Hood. You can choose your put-in based on how much time and courage you have: start at the Tucker Bridge or go upstream to Tucker Park and start your trip with a mile long section of Class IV rapids.

This section of the Hood has become much more popular since the Copper Dam (aka, Powerdale Dam) was removed last fall. A year ago, a tricky portage over the dam kept most rafters and kayakers from attempting this part of the Hood River. Now the dam is gone and two really fun Class IV rapids are in its place; definitely the highlight of the trip.

Also great, is that this run ends in the town of Hood River. You can literally take-out, walk 2 blocks and be enjoying one of the town’s amazing microbrews in 5 minutes! Being a town full of outdoor enthusiasts, I find it’s only the tourists gawking as I walk down the main drag in my dry-suit with a kayak slung on my shoulder.

The Hood River has reliable water in May and June while the snow is melting off Mount Hood, so now is the time to head out to the Gorge for some amazing spring paddling. You’ll love this run!

Zach Collier is the owner of Northwest Rafting Company.

About the Author: Zach Collier

Zach Collier owns Hood River based Northwest Rafting Company. He spends his winters exploring new rivers and summers guiding on the Rogue River. He's paddled and guided trips around the world, but chose to call Oregon home due to the abundance of amazing whitewater rivers.

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