Arts & CultureOutdoor

Heading to the river? Here are some helpful tips to enjoy the Willamette



It’s around 4 p.m. during dead week. The sun sits high above the Willamette River and there is zero percent chance of precipitation. Should you study, sit at Taylor’s listening to the top pop songs on the radio, or should you head to the river for some sunbathing, river soaking, shoreside lounging fun?

The choice is in your hands. But if you do choose to spend your time by that large blue body of water that runs right by campus, here are a few suggestions for how to maximize your time at the river.

First and foremost, directions are key unless you plan on spending your time at the Mill Race inhaling mosquitoes. Whether you are walking, biking, skating or rollerblading, make sure to head toward that giant stadium that people sometimes play sports at. From campus, go toward the Jaqua Center and cross 11th Avenue on the corner.

The Willamette River provides students with many options for swimming and relaxing. (Rick Obst/Flickr)

Once you see the field of the greenest pastures possible, you have reached the fork in the road and are very near to some of the most desired stretches of the river. You can either walk straight across the Autzen Footbridge and follow the bike path that runs right along the river, or you can go rogue and cross to the backside of the baseball fields until you come across a small footpath.

Along this path, you may find yourself battling large bushes and burly branches equipped with pokey things that attempt to block your path. But do not fear. Push past these obstacles until you reach the holy land.

The average river goer doesn’t look past the first available spot and plops right down after being seduced by the sun and sounds of running water. But a pro tip is to walk along the river in any direction, possibly doing a little wilderness pioneering, until you have found a spot that speaks to you. There are numerous options up and down both shores of the Willamette where privacy can be obtained and more than standard picnic foods can be consumed.

After you have found the perfect spot and have reached the needed body temperature for a swim, find some slow moving water and jump in. If you are feeling bold, you may consider swimming into some quicker moving water for a brisk river float, but be aware of submerged rocks and quick currents.

After taking in all that the river has to offer, it is crucial to acquire all your belongings, especially trash from your group. Head back down the path from which you came and be prepared to enter back into the concrete mess of cars and crammed buildings that contrast the lovely simplicity of the Willamette River.


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Levi Gittleman

Levi Gittleman