Looking for a lot of wind during the summer months… then look no further than Hood River, Oregon. There is a good reason the North American kiteboarding, and windsurfing industries call the Columbia River Gorge home. Yep it’s windy! The area also happens to be one of the best action sports playgrounds in the world: with some of the best mountain biking, summer time glacier snowboarding & skiing, and world class whitewater kayaking. The Hood River Slider Park, one of the few in the world open to the kiteboarding public, also attracts some of the best Kiteboarders for the annual Rosham Throw Down in July.
Best Winds: May to September
Closest Airport: Portland PDX
Typical Kite Size: 6-10m
Cost Factor: $-$$$
Local Shops and Schools: Windance, Big Winds, Second Wind, Cascade Kiteboarding
Family Friendly: Yes
Winds range from 10 to 25mph with many days delivering 25-35+mph. Come prepared for any wind conditions from light to nuclear. Our river current runs opposite of the predominate wind conditions (Westerly), so no real need for superlight wind gear and usually not a problem for anyone to stay upwind. Spring water temps warrant full suits (4mm at least), while summer water/air temps allow for anything from a shorty wetsuit to boardshorts and jersey top.
Gear for the area:
If you have it, bring it all, but leave the super big kites and boards at home. With the opposing current and our light winds still possessing punchy gusts of wind, the super lightwind gear is usually not very user-friendly in our gusty and choppy conditions.
On a daily basis, kites on the water will range from 6m2 to 14m2, depending on your size and board choice. Bring your twin for boosting air in the kiddy pool and bring your directional for tearing it up in the swell up by the White Salmon Bridge, but always remember to respect other riders space and ability levels.
If you come up short on gear, there are a plethora of kite shops in town that you can find both used and new gear to fill your needs. Demos/rentals are limited to boards only, unless one of our many kite sales reps are running a kite demo (check in with your local shop for more info).
Places to ride:
Western Gorge – Stevenson (Kite Pt) : West and East winds. 17miles West of Hood River on the Washington side of the river. West winds average in the 14-20mph range (Spring –Summer), while East winds average from 10-20 in the early Spring, to 25-45mph in the Fall. Intermediate level launch requires launch assistance. Must have good self rescue experience (no beach and safety is #1 priority).
Central Gorge – Hood River Sandbar : West wind only. Located on Hood River waterfront between The Event Site and The Marina. Kite launching is only allowed via the HR Sandbar (Event Site and Marina are strictly off-limits for pumping/launching). Wind conditions typically average in the 14-25mph range, with conditions serving up 25-35+mph conditions when things get really good. Launch area is large and sandy, but due to peak season crowding issues, along with mixed ability levels and our local kite schools, proper launch eticate is to be followed at all times. Ask someone for advice if you’re not sure of the conditions (Look for the brown Chevy Van owned by A-Train, The Sandbar’s official Kite Ambassador. He’ll get you straightened our asap). If you demonstrate an obvious lack of experience or respect for others safety, you may be asked to deflate your kite or be recommended to a local kite school to get your skills up to speed. Please be mindful that the Hood River Sandbar is a local launch spot protected and managed by the Columbia Gorge Kiteboarding Association. Safety and Respect are the two reasons that we continue to retain kite access at the Sandbar. Teaching Kiteboarding on the Sandbar is restricted to Port of Hood River licensed IKO or PASA certified kite schools.
Eastern Gorge – Rufus (aka the Rockpile) : West wind only. Located on the 45 miles east of Hood River on the Oregon side of the river. Best in early Spring and late Summer, Rufus is the place to be for some of the best kiting conditions to be had in the Gorge. Wind conditions can be anywhere from 12 to 50mph, depending on the day and the weather patterns. With some of the strongest currents in the Gorge, staying upwind is not an issue. No need to rig too big since the opposing current will add more power to your session and you won’t want to get caught with too big of a kite when the winds start to go nuclear. This is where Ruben Lenten regularly comes out to boost his standard 50’+ airs. Amenities are minimal, so don’t forget to pack up your food and beer ahead of time.
BARGES! The bad news is they’re big, slow, require up to a mile to stop, and when upwind of you will block enough wind to get you swimming. The good news is they’re big and slow, so there is no reason you should ever get near one or having any issues with one.
If your new to the location or not sure of the conditions or temps, ask someone on the beach for advice. If there are no kiters, then be patient they will come. If they don’t then you are likely in the wrong place and they are not there for a good reason.
Secret Spots :
Wikipedia def. : A secret is a piece of information that one person or a group of people know, and do not want others (either everyone, or certain people) to know.