Bull Run Slalom Site

There are whitewater slalom gates erected on the Bull Run river at the PGE Bull Run hydroproject near Sandy Oregon (see map below). These gates were erected by a relatively small number of slalom paddlers some 10 years ago, with the permission and lots of help from Portland General Electric. {Please consider PGE for all your power needs.} In 2007, the powerplant was decommissioned which reduced flows into to the BR. However, we redesigned the course and there are now sufficient flows about half the time in the winter and early spring (Nov. - May). Flows that are appropriate are: 450 (rocky) to 1800 (pushy) cfs on the Bull Run at Bull Run gauge: This slalom course can serve several different purposes. A group of us paddle there regularly, as much as 3 times a week, practicing and training for slalom races. These are the folks with the 15 lb, all carbon, slalom boats, built to fly.


Whitewater Slalom Gates on the Willamette River in Portland

Some practice gates were erected on the Willamette River in front of the South Waterfront condominiums. This is located between SW Moody Drive and SW Curry Drive, just offshore, on the left bank of the Willamette. These gates, (poles hung about 1.2 meters apart), are for practicing slalom technique in flat water. They consist of plastic tubing separated by a spreader bar hanging from clothesline wire strung between pylons in the river. Adjustment of the gates can be done from the water. Several of us paddle these gates often, especially when the Bull Run slalom site is too low or too high to paddle. Contact David Johnson at if you are interested in using these gates. We'd rather you know what you are doing in terms of adjusting the gates, so we can reach the gate poles at low tide. Also, we'd like to paddle with you.

Slalom Racing

There is also a series of 7 or 8 whitewater slalom and/or downriver races held in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia denoted the Northwest Whitewater Cup. Points are given for wins in each race towards the final cup.   More information is also at:

Slalom Events: Winter 2016 NW WHITEWATER SLALOM RACES

It was a slow year for whitewater slalom races in 2016 with the cancellation of some spring races due to low water and river closures.  So, we have organized two winter races, before Christmas, as rivers rise quickly.

The first will be November 12, 13 at the permanent whitewater slalom site on the Cedar River near Maple Valley, WA.  Watch the gauges, Cedar at Landsburg and race will be held if the river is over 250 and under 1200 cfs, though preferably higher than 250 and lower than 1200 cfs.

The second will be on the Bull Run permanent whitewater site, near Sandy Oregon, at the Bull Run powerplant on Dec. 10,11.  Levels need to be higher than 500 cfs and below 2500 cfs.  At the higher levels this course becomes difficult.  Know that this river tends to come up and down quickly so keep in touch with the organizer if you have to drive a distance.  There is a reasonable chance the river will be too high or too low.  Then we may move it to the following weekend?

We will post cancellations on websites and send out an email if either race is cancelled by Thursday evening.

Originally posted by: David <>

Bull Run Slalom, near Sandy, OR, April 18, 19, David Johnson

Cedar River Races, near Maple Valley, WA, May 2, 3, Esther Andrews



The Northwest Slalom series continues with highly valuable points awarded at each race and the best 6 out of 9 race results are totaled for fabulous awards in each class (K1, K1W, K1Masters, K1Junior, C1, K1Rec, etc.).

Come out and compete or just learn some moves and have some fun!

  1. Rich Weiss Slalom, Chilliwack River, near Chilliwack, BC, March 21- 22, Jon Allen or Shonnet Allen
  2. Riverhouse Slalom, on the Deschutes River in downtown Bend, OR, March 28,29 Bert Hinkley (
  3. Bull Run Slalom, near Sandy, OR, April 18, 19, David Johnson
  4. Cedar River Races, near Maple Valley, WA, May 2, 3, Esther Andrews
  5. Salmon la Sac Slalom, near Roselyn, WA, June, 6,7 Jennie Goldberg
  6. Blackfoot races, near Missoula, MT, June, 27, 28. Brandon Salayi
  7. Roaring River Slalom, on the Clackamas River, near Estacada, OR, Aug, 8, 9 Lisa Day
  8. Tamihi Classic Slalom, near Chilliwack, BC. Sept. 12,13 Jon Allen or Shonnet Allen
  9. Nooksack River Slalom, on the Nooksak River near Glacier, WA, Oct, 3,4 Ken Daugherty

2015 NW Slalom Cup Schedule

2014 printable schedule can be found HERE.

2011 Roaring River Slalom Race Results
The results of the 2011 Roaring River Slalom Race can be seen HERE.



 Slalom FAQs

What is slalom racing? Kayakers & canoers attempt to negotiate a course made up of 18-25 downstream and upstream (in eddies) gates. Gates are defined by two poles spaced about 1 meter apart and hanging about 30 cm above the water. One is timed from the start to the finish (last gate), and penalties are added to the elapsed time for touching a pole (2 sec) or missing a gate (50 sec.). Much of the time elapsed involves entering eddies, paddling up through upstream gates and getting the boat out into the current. The power is in the water, it's all about where you put your boat, not strength. Racers are given two runs, and the best one counts.

Why paddle slalom gates if you don't race? Practicing on gates builds boating skills. This is equally true for those paddling a plastic creek or playboat as for those in a slalom or longer boat. You learn to enter eddies crisply, exit them in various attitudes, cross the river, front-ferry, back-ferry, and generally move your boat around. You can modify the course by moving gates to test various skills. Importantly, missing a move is not harmful, e.g. you do not hit a rock and pin, instead the poles swings harmlessly out of the way. You can practice different moves with others, i.e. with us regulars or other OKCC members giving input or coaching. Usually, we paddle back up the upper half of the course to do this section over and over. The middle part of the course requires walking back up. Often we are there for 1-2 hours on one day each weekend.

What do you need to get started? You do need a solid roll, as there are sharp rocks in and below the course. A swim here could be painful or even dangerous. You need to contact one of us and be shown how the gates work! The poles must be pulled up to the wires every time because floods can tear down the entire course. This course involves 50 or more hours of work to put up, so if someone leaves the gates down and the river comes up to high levels, we will lose all the gates and a huge amount of work. Raising and lowering the gates involves about 10-15 minutes before and after paddling.

For more information about slalom and upcoming events, please contact:

David Johnson ( or Rufus Knapp (

What exactly is slalom all about? Click here to read more.