The lifeblood of the Willamette Valley is the namesake river that runs through it. Without it, the fertile farmlands would have never attracted the generations of Native Americans, Oregon Trail emigrants, and us. The beauty is unmistakable, and the same mysteries that have been available to centuries of explorers are still here for you today.
Willamette Water Trail
The Willamette River flows through the valley, much the same as it did when the settlers gathered at Champoeg in the 1840s, forming the territory’s first government. Today, intrepid river travelers like to go from Rogers Landing to Champoeg State Heritage Area. Paddle a canoe or kayak, float the river, bicycle the paths at Champoeg, hike the forests, and floodplains along its banks, pick berries during summer months on nearby farms, or camp overnight at Ash Island or Champoeg. It’s all possible on (and along) Newberg’s section of the Willamette Water Trail.
Distinguished as one of only 20 National Water Trails in the U.S., the Willamette River Water Trail is an assemblage of properties that provide access and campsites for paddlers along 187 miles of the mainstem Willamette River, as well as several miles of the Coast Fork Willamette, Middle Fork Willamette, and McKenzie River. At its core, the Water Trail enables paddlers to enjoy the Willamette River for a short excursion, or a multi-day trip along the river.
Thanks to the Willamette Greenway Project, a collection of more than 90 parks along both sides of the Willamette River, you have plenty of options for choosing the perfect outing—and all that green space adds an element of natural wonder to the occasional urban experiences. The Willamette River Trail awaits your exploration.
Newberg is home to one of Oregon’s premier boating facilities on the majestic Willamette River. Rogers Landing park offers expansive parking and a three-lane boat launch. From land or water, Rogers Landing is one of Yamhill County’s top recreational resources, as well as a key stop on the Willamette River Water Trail, offering canoers and kayakers scenic paddle ways from Springfield to Portland, with opportunities for hiking, camping, and exploring along the way.
Many enjoy strolling the docks at sunset or scanning the skies for blue heron, osprey, kingfishers, or migrating geese. Located on the river’s “Newberg Pool”, the park is especially popular with water skiers. In spring, fishermen brave the rain to catch salmon near Ash Island, just south of the park.
You can also put-in @ the Dayton Landing. Located five miles upstream from the Willamette River at the confluence of Yamhill River and Palmer Creek, Dayton Landing is a 1.4-acre county park with a small boat ramp and ample parking.
Newberg is the first Yamhill County town on Oregon’s Route 99W, just minutes from Portland. The famous route leads to hundreds of vineyards, wineries, acclaimed restaurants, scenic farms, orchards, and outdoor recreation opportunities on the beautiful Willamette River Trail. More than 100 wineries are located within a 10-mile radius, ranging from Oregon Pinot Noir pioneers like Adelsheim and Rex Hill wineries with bucolic estate vineyard sites to downtown Newberg tasting rooms.
Newberg’s charming, walkable downtown features locally owned restaurants, food carts, art galleries, boutiques, coffee shops, bookstore, wine tasting rooms, and much more. The city is also home to the public arts-devoted Chehalem Cultural Center, Chehalem Glenn Golf Course, George Fox University, and the Hoover-Minthorn House, the only presidential site in Oregon.
Enjoy Newberg’s peaceful, picturesque surroundings through vineyard tours, river paddles, hikes, walking trails, golf, cycling, hot air balloon rides, scenic drives, or a simple picnic in one of Newberg’s many parks.
Plan Your River Adventure
When making plans for your river adventure, we encourage you to familiarize yourself with the basics before starting out on your journey. We’ve compiled this list of important facts that you should know:
Ensure you Have Proper Permits: All boats and paddle craft 10 feet and longer are required to carry an Oregon State Marine Board Waterway Access Permit. These permits help fund the aquatic invasive species prevention program and grants to develop or improve paddling access for boating facility providers. Paddling without a permit may lead to a $115 fine.
Essential Boating Equipment: Make sure you have required lighting in times of restricted visibility. Check lights before starting out, to ensure they are functioning properly. Additionally, a sound producing device is important for appropriate boating signaling communications.
Safety First: All boaters who operate a motorboat over 10hp and youths 12-15 operating a motorboat of any size are required to take an approved boating safety course and carry a Boater Education Card.
Personal floatation devices (PFDs or lifejackets) are not required for adults—but are nevertheless strongly encouraged whenever you are on the water. Children 12 and younger are required to wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket whenever the boat is underway. The Oregon State Marine Board hosts a website on various lifejacket styles and how to choose the right PFD for your preferred activity. Accidents on the water happen fast. U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that drowning was the reported cause of death in 77% of recreational boating fatalities in 2018, and that 84% of those who drowned were not wearing a life jacket. That’s why boating safety advocates continue to push for increased and consistent life jacket wear on the water.
Towed Watersports Requirements: The owner of a motorboat shall display a towed watersports motorboat certificate decal if the motorboat is engaged in towed watersports within the Newberg Pool Congested Zone, which begins at river mile 30 and ends at river mile 50. A person shall carry a towed watersports endorsement if the person is engaged in wake surfing or wakeboarding within the Newberg Pool Congested Zone. The Marine Board has an interactive map of the rules that helps tell a boater which zone they are in if they have their mobile device GPS activated. More information is available at Oregon State Marine Board.
Keep your Distance, Be Courteous: Try to avoid crowded boat ramps, and maintain at least six feet of physical distance (roughly the length of a kayak paddle) from others whenever possible—even on the water; if it is not possible to keep that distance, you are required to wear a face covering in public places (indoors or out) throughout Oregon.
- Best Paddle Times on the Willamette River – early morning or late afternoon.
- Share the Water – Listen for motorboats, and paddle closer together in groups when you hear a motorboat approaching. Motorboats need deeper water to safely operate and pass.
- Be Aware – The Newberg Pool Congested Zone refers to the portion of the Willamette River beginning at river mile 30 and ending at river mile 50. This section of the river is busy with motorboats and towed watersport vessels, primarily in July through October.
- Paddling into Waves – Check out this great tutorial from Riverbreak magazine.
Respect Private Property: Private property borders much of the Willamette Water Trail; assume that property, unless otherwise noted on a sign or map, is private—and take care to respect all signs that warn against trespassing, hunting, or camping.
Leave No Trace: Please abide by the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace; those principles include remembering to plan ahead and prepare, dispose of waste properly, and respect wildlife. (And while you are outdoors, remember to Take Care Out There.)
For a comprehensive list of safety, education and requirements on the river, please visit Oregon State Marine Board.
Rental/Guide Info: Reference these local outfitters to rent gear or schedule a guided trip.
Dayton Kayak Rentals (Dayton/Yamhill County) This is a seasonal business that caters to paddlers launching from Dayton Landing only.
Alder Creek (Tualatin/Clackamas County)
Next Adventure (Portland/Multnomah County)
Woodward Surf (Salem/Marion County)
Paddle People will deliver boats within 600 miles of Portland. The first 100 miles is free.
For additional information, visit Willamette River Water Trail.
Inspirational Paddle Itineraries: Ash Island Loop – start/finish at Rogers Landing in Newberg. A beginner level itinerary, this 2.5 mile loop offers an enjoyable half-day paddle where you may encounter bald eagles, geese, ducks (deer and fox should you venture onto the island) as well as a peaceful paddle of the island’s back channel.
Camping: Willamette Riverkeeper recently acquired the upper end of Ash Island, 1.5 miles upstream from Rogers Landing in Newberg, between San Salvador and Champoeg State Park. This 9.5 acre property offers two campsites, for paddlers only.