It’s a fact - the Willamette River is approved for summer swimming, except in the now very rare instances when Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) conditions are present. Oregon DEQ states that when CSO conditions are not present, the Willamette River in Portland is safe for swimming and other recreational uses.
Please be careful when swimming in the Willamette River. Swim with a friend, know the area, beware of boats and debris, and wear river shoes for safety in getting in and out. Early in the summer, water temperature can be cold.
Before you jump in
Although they may look calm, rivers are active, living bodies of water and are in constant states of change. Check out conditions before you enter the water. Swim at your own risk – lifeguards are not present. Before swimming, please remember:
Portland Parks & Recreation recommends that people DO NOT swim in certain areas, including Kelley Point Park; off or near docks that are designated for boating and watercraft tie-up; sensitive habitat areas (look for signs); and in some Superfund-designated areas – see Portland Park's and Recreation River Swimming Page.
Please review our Willamette River Swimming Safety page before going out to swim.
Located on North Edison St. and Pittsburg Ave. under east end of St. Johns Bridge.
Due to the frequency of drownings that have occurred at Kelley Point Park, Portland Parks and Rec does not recommend swimming at this location.
Located 10 miles northwest of Portland, it’s the largest island in the Columbia River.
Located at 05 SE Madison, adjacent to Audrey McCall Beach.
Located on the East bank of river at SE 7th and Miller St. just north of Sellwood Bridge.
Located at SE 19th and Sparrow St. in Milwaukie. Limited parking on neighborhood streets.
Located on East bank of river just south of Hawthorne Bridge.
The most popular beach on Sauvie Island, Walton Beach is located at the north end of Reeder Road. The beach is sandy and serene, with lovely shallow water, gentle waves, and easy entry into the river (though it does drop off in places).
Be aware there are no lifeguards on duty. Watch children closely. Personal floatation devices are recommended. Besides swimming, it’s a great area for building sand castles, flying kites, and watching for eagles and wildlife. Columbia Riverkeeper volunteers monitor water quality at this beach from June to September.
You’ll find Collins Beach further north up Reeder Road from Walton Beach. Collins is over a mile long and begins a quarter mile after Reeder Road becomes gravel. This is a clothing-optional nude beach. You can always keep your suit on if you prefer that to your “birthday suit”. It’s not as crowded as Walton and has more trees and shady areas – to relax or picnic, and avoid “sensitive sunburns”. There are no lifeguards at any Sauvie Island swimming area, so be careful and swim with a friend. The Columbia River can be chilly even in the summer, and there can be sudden drop offs. Right across the river is the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. Great for bird-watching while you frolic in the water and on land.
The beach at Willow Park is located off milepost 7 on Reeder Road. It offers a relaxing, natural setting, and a sandy beach that is almost 2 miles long with easy access into the water.
With so much sandy beachfront and a wonderful view of the Columbia River, this is one of the best beaches in the Portland area. There’s little shade but it doesn’t get quite as crowded as other Sauvie Island beaches – partly due to the semi hidden parking lot at the end of a dirt road off Reeder Road. Columbia Riverkeeper volunteers monitor water quality at this beach from May-September.