Columbia River / Hood River Sandbar (Kite Beach, The Spit)

Continent
North America
Country
Oregon (USA)
Next Big City
Portland
Next Town
Hood River
 
Type:
River
Rider Ability:
Beginner, Intermediate, Expert
Features:
School, Shop, Toilet, Parking

Water

Type:
Shallow, Flat, Chop
Hazards:
Currents, Ships, Stones
Quality:
Cloudy
Best Tide:
Tide independent

The Columbia River, which cuts through the Columbia River Gorge to the Pacific Ocean. The Hood River mouth meets the Columbia River here at the Sandbar. Best from May to September, the The mouth of the Hood River is a wonderful smooth-like-butter riding spot if you are advanced enough to fight for the narrow space with the pros in the summertime. The water is shallow out to the channel, which is clearly noticeable by the dark water line. The channel on the north side of the river can be choppy, but can also have good swell. Wind in the sandbar area can be gusty. The current pushes you upwind on a westerly (W, SW, or NW), making it easy upwind-riding. The farther upwind (west) you go, the cleaner the wind, especially by the White Salmon Bridge on the north side of the river.

Beach

Type:
Sand, Pebbles
Size:
Tidal
Hazards:
Stones
Beach Users:
None

The heart of the Gorge, and currently the most popular spot to ride in the Pacific Northwest. It's the only sandy launch in the Gorge, so it's somewhat good for beginners. However the fact that the sand bar is finite, be careful if you can't stay upwind, as you can quickly end up past where you can still land without some major issues. The beach is rocky until you hit the sand bar, which can vary in size depending on the current water level. On some days its as big as a football field, other days its gone completely. Some days even the rocky beach is missing. On the days when the sand bar is underwater some choose to rig on the rocky area and walk out or launch from there. Beware launching from the rocky beach as the wind is very shifty, and the water is shallow. It's best to rig your kite up and walk out past the rocky area to where the sand bar would be and launch there. If the sand bar is big enough for you to rig on it, then rig there and get someone to launch you. The sand bar is usually very busy and has limited space, so don't linger with your gear strewn out everywhere. Also make sure the gear you leave on the beach when you go out is somewhere you can find it, and on the highest ground possible (you might come back and find that the sand bar has started to disappear under water.)

Wind

Best Months:
June, July, August
Wind Type:
Thermal
Best Direction:
WSW, W, WNW
Main Direction:
WSW, W, WNW

Spring: March to May, light winds 12-20, somewhat finicky. Summer: June to early September, windy, 15-35, pretty solid. Fall: September to October, light to moderate winds, but very steady: 13-25. The wind is usually gusty, sideshore. Go upwind for stronger and less gusty wind. It's all about the Westerlies, Easterlies usually don't find their way to Hood River (and it's usually too damn cold by then anyway).



How to get there

Transport
Car
Access
Short walk

PDX (Portland Airport): Go south on I-205 for a couple miles. Head east on I-84 for to Hood River. Take the second exit (City Center) and go left at the light. Wind around to the right toward the 76 gas station. Drive around the back of the station and keep going on that straight street onto the gravel road. Take the gravel road all the way to the end, here you will see the Sandbar.

Extra information

Rules
Zones

The Sandbar is a kite-only beach. Upwind at the `Event Site` is windsurfing only. No kiting at any of the other beaches in the area, you can only launch from the sand bar.

Nightlife

6th Street Bar and Grill. The Copper Salmon on the Columbia River. The River City. The Shed.