When you've had enough water, explore 15 miles of trails through Oxbow's ancient forests. Reserve a camping spot for the night, and gather around the fire for nature activities and music. You might bump into mink, beavers, raccoons, fox, deer, osprey, songbirds, elk, black bears or cougars. Every fall, nature puts on one of its greatest shows: salmon return to their spawning grounds to lay their last eggs, before dying in the waters where they were born.
See and do
- See the nationally designated Wild and Scenic Sandy River. This undammed river carves cliffs and creates beaches in the park as it carries snowmelt and glacial till from its source on Mount Hood.
- Hike 12 miles of trails: gentle grades along the river's terraces or steeper trails up a ridge between the river's bends.
- Explore one of the closest old-growth forests to Portland.
- Float the river in a tube, boat or kayak. (Please see below for additional tips.)
- Watch salmon spawn.
- Camp in the woods. On Friday and Saturday nights from June 26 to Sept. 5, 2015, overnight campers can gather around the campfire for stories and old-fashioned entertainment.
- Track animals on the river's sandy beaches, where mink, beavers, black bears and other wildlife come to drink.
- Learn in an outdoor classroom about tracking, mushrooms and other topics.
- Dine al fresco in a reserved group shelter, perfect for a family reunion, church outing or company picnic.
- Bring environmental education to life on a field trip led by a Metro naturalist.
Know when you go
Free Metro Park Days 2016
Enjoy free parking at Oxbow and Blue Lake regional parks, Broughton Beach, M. James Gleason Memorial Boat Ramp and Chinook Landing Marine Park on Feb. 15, April 22, May 21, June 18, July 7, Oct. 14, Nov. 11, Nov. 25 and Dec. 23, 2016, and Jan. 16, 2017.
- Oxbow is open 6:30 a.m. to legal sunset.
- Parking fee is $5 per car or $7 per bus (free with annual pass).
- Accessible picnic areas, campground restroom/shower buildings and some campsites.
- Alcohol and other intoxicants are not allowed.
- Dogs are not allowed, because they can damage sensitive habitat and threaten wildlife.
- Hunting is not allowed.
- Drones, model planes, model boats and other remote-controlled vehicles are not allowed.
- Geocaching is allowed with guidelines.
Enjoy a float or paddle on the Sandy River
Planning to float or paddle the Wild and Scenic Sandy River? You'll enjoy stunning scenery and perhaps even spot elk and other wildlife. To ensure your trip is both fun and safe, please plan ahead.
- Two of the most popular floats are from Dodge Park to Oxbow or from Oxbow to Dabney State Recreation Area.
- Different parks are open different hours. Plan ahead to ensure all shuttle vehicles can be accessed at the end of a trip.
- The city of Sandy provides detailed information about the Sandy River Water Trail, including maps, paddle summaries, safety guidelines and more.
- The Sandy River Water Trail Paddle Guide includes estimated paddle times and difficulty ratings for various sections of the river. Please keep in mind that estimated times are for paddling, not floating, and do not include time spent shuttling between sites. Floating can take hours longer than paddling, especially during the summer when water levels can be significantly lower.
- Wear flotation safety devices, such as life jackets. If your boat, canoe or kayak capsizes, float with your feet in front, pointing downstream. Don't fight the current. Use your arms like oars and "steer" toward the bank. Let the current carry you.
- Watch out for underwater hazards, such as logs and large rocks. Observe posted hazard signs.
If you're biking, travel east on bike lanes on Stark or Division streets or Powell Boulevard. Continue east on Division and follow signs to the park. Or ride the Springwater Trail and then head north on the Hogan Road bike lane to Division. Bikes are welcome inside the park on paved roads and some marked trails.