Kitesurfing Hood River, Oregon, USA
“Hood River is an epic mountainous beauty and an adventurer’s playground for hiking, mountain biking, skiing, kiting, kayaking and paragliding all in the same day. And there are always so many stoked people on the water!”
Sensi Graves, Liquid Force pro rider
The main spot in Hood River itself is the sandbar where you’ll find choppy conditions further out with flat water close in near shore as well as the infamous Hood River slider park. There’s usually plenty of space to launch and land but this can change depending on the water level. Although gusty at times on the inside, it’s consistently windy throughout the season as the wind is funneled down the river through the Columbia River Gorge.
Cascade Kiteboarding school site / PHOTO: Cascade Kiteboarding
50 minutes east of Hood you’ll find Rufus – an epic big boosting spot with rolling ramps coming at you from upwind at the perfect angle for edging into wind for take-off. The launch is rocky and exposed with limited rigging space, but has steady wind and some wind swell that builds on stronger days. As it’s a very challenging place to launch, it’s not ideal for beginners. Head north across the river into Washington State and then take a 30 minute drive to Stevenson along the river where you’ll find steadier wind with a safer launch area.
Also in Washington, and 25 minutes to the east, you’ll find Lyle with a big sandbar, ample space to launch and land and even a little swell at times. The wind is reliable but can be gusty and watch out for stumps and branches in the water as well as some of the shallower areas close to the shoreline. If you’re looking for proper waves then check out the Oregon coastline which is three to four hours drive away and has some of the best surf on the western seaboard.
Hood River - Kite Safely
Wind, weather & water
The wind is reliable from May until August and can be kite-able five or six days a week in season. The wind accelerates down the river and can get seriously strong, but even the lighter days usually have a gentle but usable wind which is why foiling is so popular in Hood.
There is no tidal effect but the water level is controlled by the dams, so can fluctuate which effects how much launch space there is. The level can be particularly high early season when there’s still quite a lot of snow melting into the river. The water temperatures vary throughout the year. Seriously cold in winter you’ll need a drysuit and multiple layers to kite. In May the average temperature is 15°C / 59°F, climbing to 22°C / 72°F in August, so you might want a thin spring suit or shortie in the early season, but you’ll be fine in boardies or a bikini later in the year. The air temperatures average 21°C / 69°F in May and build up to 28°C / 82°F in August. Bring a hoodie or light jacket for the evenings.
Jason Slezak shredding the sandbar / PHOTO: Lance Koudele
Shops & Schools
CASCADE KITEBOARDING are IKO certified and teach all levels, including advanced private coaching and have jet-ski rescue. They operate from May to September in Hood and then November to March in Baja where they run wave camps during the winter. Providing North, Liquid Force and Cabrinha kites which are also available for use by riders with a valid IKO card.
The kiting fascination begins / PHOTOS: Cascade Kiteboarding
Cascade Kiteboarding - We love where we teach kiteboarding in the Gorge!
Accommodation ranges from smart hotels to more affordable campsites and motels and there are self-catering properties in the area, too. If you’re self-catering there are a couple of supermarkets in town and also natural farmer’s markets where you can find organic, locally grown produce.
Best Western Hood River Inn - Located on the Columbia River waterfront. Great bar, restaurant, & amenities. 10 minute walk / 2 minute drive to downtown Hood River and Cascade Kiteboarding.
Accommodation setup at Hood River Inn / PHOTOS: Hood River Inn
The Westcliff Lodge - Situated on the west edge of time, this is just a 5 minute drive to Cascade Kiteboarding and downtown Hood River.
Accommodation setup at Westcliff Lodge / PHOTOS: Westcliff Lodge
Hood River Hotel - In the heart of downtown Hood River; 10 minute walk / 2 minute drive to Cascade Kiteboarding.
Accommodation setup at Hood River Hotel / PHOTOS: Hood River Hotel
Columbia Gorge Hotel - Historic hotel on a 300-foot cliff overlooking the Columbia River. 5 minute drive to Cascade Kiteboarding and downtown Hood River.
Accommodation setup at Columbia Gorge Hotel / PHOTOS: Columbia Gorge Hotel
If it’s not windy then there’s endless stuff to do, from epic mountain biking, river rafting, SUPing, hiking in the mountains, wine tasting or skiing / snowboarding - even during the summer up on the glacier at nearby Mt. Hood. There are numerous state and national forests to explore throughout the area and Portland is a bustling, vibrant city less than 90 minutes drive away.
Public transport is available but really a hire car is essential for getting around with equipment as all the spots are between five and 45 minutes drive out of town.
United States Dollars - USD
Food & Drink
There are great restaurants and cool bars with fantastic locally brewed beers and a relaxed, family vibe around the town.
Portland (PDX) is one hour from Hood River.
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