I love kayaking — and it’s a great vacation idea! Here are a few spots in that area you might try:
- Fern Ridge Reservoir is a really big lake just a few miles west of Eugene with nice park areas on the shore and plenty of room for kayaking.
- Willamette River is not a lake, but the Willamette is very popular for canoeing and kayaking. A few years ago, Canoeroots Magazine called it the “canoe trip of a lifetime.” It’s mostly peaceful flatwater paddling with lots of places to watch wildlife. Check out this site for info on kayaking the Willamette and a map about river conditions and any water hazards or alerts to be aware of in each section of the river.
- Waldo Lake is a bit of a trek up into the mountains, and if you don’t mind a drive into the Cascades, Waldo Lake is one of the prettiest, purest natural lakes in the state.
- Loon Lake is a drive the other direction — into the Coast Range to the west of Eugene and Roseburg. But it’s one of my favorite lakes to visit, especially if you have any kids along (it has a really nice beach and kids play area).
You can rent equipment from several places:
- Northwest Canoe in Alton Baker Park, which is right on the Willamette in Eugene
- Skookum Marine, which offers canoe/kayak rentals on the banks of Fern Ridge Reservoir
- Oregon Paddle Sports is a local place in Eugene where you can rent any kayaks or gear you might need, and the staff there will also be able to give you all kinds of expert recommendations on local paddle spots
- You can also rent all kinds of water gear at Loon Lake Lodge & Resort
- Clear Lake, another lake that is a little farther north, is extremely beautiful and you can rent rowboats and kayaks on the lake shore