Nearly every kind of boat you can imagine has been on the Willamette River. From dragon decorated bicycles on floats during Corvallis' Da Vinci Days to Navy Ballistic Missile Submarines in Portland. The Willamette River is home to boat enthusiasts with wild imaginations and a love for the outdoors.
My first experience boating on the Willamette was with my Grandad in his green Old Town Canoe. I was about 7 years old when I found my way to the Corvallis riverbank one early morning while the mildew covered the leaves and a light fog began fading from the river's surface. He fitted me with a child size lifejacket and I climbed my way into the canoe while my Grandad held it steady. With paddle in hand he pushed off the riverbank and hopped in. I was at the bow of the canoe on my way down the Willamette for my first river adventure.
Trying to be a useful shipmate, I paddled as hard as I could with the water running off my paddle down my arms. By mid-day my arms were telling me to use my torso to row and I was working up a sweat as the sun now rose above us. We stopped at a sandbar for lunch where we ate PB&J's and waved to kayakers paddling by.
I had the privilege on my first river outing to see a great blue heron glide over the reflecting water, osprey perched in nests on poles above the river, fish leap from the water, and a deer poke her head out of a tree-line along the riverbank.
In loving memory of my Grandad who loved nature and the river. Shown above are a couple of his trips he made completing his journey along the entire 180 miles of Willamette River from Cottage Grove Reservoir to Portland.
Kayaks and canoes aren't the only way to experience the river.
In Salem you can travel back in time to the 1800's aboard the Willamette Queen Sternwheeler:
In Portland you can experience a rush of adrenaline from the speed of a jet boat with Willamette Jetboat Excursions:
Take a loved one on the Portland Spirit for a romantic evening:
Or take your kids to explore a US Navy submarine at OMSI: