Clackamas River Tubing is one of my favorite summer activities, so close to Portland, so relaxing, such good people watching. . Below are my tips to having a great day Inner Tubing on the Clackamas River including Directions, Shuttling, Time on the Water, and General Tips, highlighted by a great day on the water with Pam, Danny, JJ, Benjamin, Kobe and Jen.
To get to the “take out” (see shuttling below) you need to start at Carver State Park. Surprisingly it is not so straightforward to find Carver Park on Google. I was able to get pretty close by doing a Google Map Search on Carver, Oregon. Carver Park the “take out” (where you end your tubing ride), is located 19 miles (30 minutes) from the Popina Swimwear Shop in Portland.
When tubing you need a way to get back to your car after your ride. There are really three viable options for shuttling. The Take out is Carver State Park, the Put In is Barton Park which is approximately six miles from Carver.
Option 1 - Take two cars. Go with two cars, park one car at the Carver Park take out.
Danny and JJ at the Carver Parking Lot
2) Bring a Bike along. This is a great option, frankly it seems stupid to take two cars and not carpool unless you have friends who happen to live close to your tubing spot. Danny and JJ live about 10 minutes away so for this trip it made sense. Otherwise I like to meet up in Portland, carpool and bring my bike along. All you have to do is stop at Carver Park to lock up your bike before you tube then continue to Barton Park (the put in). The bike ride is pretty easy overall if you are in decent shape, total ride is approximately six miles, last time I did it it took 20-25 minutes. This option is less attractive on days that are very hot like we saw this past summer of 100+ degrees.
Kobe and Jen at the Carver Parking Lot
3) Option Three is to make a new friend after your tube ride and ask for a ride back to Barton (only the car driver needs to do this). This final method requires a little gumption and requires a high degree of judgment, but can often add a little color to a trip. So if you ever have extra space on your shuttle ride back to Barton, you may consider giving a ride to someone who asks you - good for the karma (but again use judgment).
Time on the Water
You can tube the Clackamas as quickly as 2.5 hours or you can stretch it out for 4+. If you go tubing during the week there is not a fee for parking at Barton Park, there are fees on the weekend. I recommend getting a pump to inflate your tubes. Why kill yourself, at Popina Swimwear we sell tube pumps that plug into your car for $30.
Once you have inflated your tubes basically walk South with your tube until you hit water. Sit on your tube and float.
1) Wear Sunscreen - chemical free sunscreens are available at Popina Swimwear
2) Grab an extra tube for a cooler for drinks.
3) Don’t be in a rush, take your time to take in the many fun swimming spots. Just take the cue from other tubers, if you see a group of people pulled over somewhere, it is probably a decent place to stop.
4) Consider packing a lunch or BBQ at Carver Park after the float. Very fun people watching to see people getting out of the river and Carver Park is a really beautiful shaded park.
5) Do not get separated from your tube on the river. This may seem really obvious, but if you do happen to fall off, swim after your tube.
End of the Ride
You will know you got to the end of the ride when you see the Bridge to Carver Park.
The take out
Deflating Tubes - Danny’s best side
So there you go, everything you need for a great day on the Clack. I am happy to give tubing tips at our store. You are welcome to call the shop as well for advice but please consider that we are running a swimwear shop first, we basically just sell Inner Tubes in Portland for fun. Our advice is free and we are often busy in the summer so please be considerate of our time.
Popina Swimwear 4831 NE 42nd Avenue Portland, Oregon 97218 503.282.5159