Oxbow to Dabney Float

Oxbow to Dabney: A Popular Summer Float

The Oxbow to Dabney float is a river adventure that allows you to explore the stunning natural beauty of the Sandy River . It is a popular choice for locals in the summertime and offers amazing landscapes and animal sightings

What to expect

The Oxbow to Dabney float covers a picturesque 7-mile stretch along the Sandy River, offering a delightful adventure that typically takes around 3-4.5 hours, depending on the season. The rapids in this section of the river are classified as class I, which means they are gentle, entertaining, and not intimidating. It’s a popular destination, especially on summer weekends, so it’s important to plan accordingly.

To ensure a smooth experience, it’s advisable to arrive at the starting point between 10-11am. This timeframe generally allows for a better chance of securing a spot for your float. However, it’s important to note that availability is not guaranteed, as this section of the river can get quite busy due to its popularity.

Oxbow Park Troutdale
Oxbow Troutdale

What should I use?

Tubes: From my experience on this section I would say most tubes meant for River tubing would be fine. Pool floats are a bit flimsy and may not keep air through certain obstacles. I would personally recommend River Run Tubes which can be found in all the local shops. Ideally, you will find a tube with a mesh bottom to get your butt out of the water a little bit. 

Kayaks: Sit inside kayaks can tend to drag in some shallow portions. Sit on top kayaks will also do this but are less likely to fill with water on rapids, however, they are top heavy and tend to dump you out more. Inflatable kayaks are awesome, they are easy to transport and float over the small round river rocks as the water gets more shallow.

Paddleboards: I have seen many paddleboards make this trip. I would recommend using an inflatable paddleboard with a removable fin due to changes in water depth. On some portions of the trip I would certainly sit down over standing.

What do you need?

Here’s a list of things I always make sure to bring on this float

  1. Appropriate Clothing: Dress in comfortable, quick-drying clothes suitable for the weather conditions. Avoid wearing cotton as it retains moisture when wet.

  2. Footwear: Wear sturdy water shoes or sandals that can protect your feet while providing good traction on slippery surfaces.

  3. Sun Protection: Apply sunscreen generously to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Additionally, wear a hat and sunglasses to shield your face and eyes.

  4. Water and Snacks: Stay hydrated throughout the float by bringing an adequate supply of water. Pack lightweight, energy-boosting snacks to keep you fueled during the adventure.

  5. Waterproof Bag: Keep your personal belongings, such as your phone, wallet, and camera, safe and dry by storing them in a waterproof bag.

  6. Camera or GoPro: Capture the breathtaking moments of your float by bringing a camera or a waterproof GoPro to document your adventure.

  7. Lifejacket: These can be purchased at nearby sports shops but more often than not, you will see free to use lifejackets at Oxbow and Dabney Park. I have never had an issue using a lifejacket from Oxbow and leaving at Dabney when I am done.
  8. Patch kit and Pump: As summer progresses the water level decreases which can expose branches and other obstacles that can pop your float. It’s a long walk out so be prepared for the worst.
  9. The Other Car’s Keys: I know this sounds obvious but I have had friends leave the keys to the car at the pickup, at the drop off. Don’t forget your keys!
  10. A Paddle: There are some spots where you will need to paddle to get away from obstacles and trees. I have done this float without a paddle and it’s a lot easier with one.

What passes are needed?

Oxbow is operated by Metro Parks and has their own fee to enter. It is $5/day and can be payed at a kiosk. Yearly passes can be bought for $40. 
Oxbow is an amazing park and is worth checking out outside of tubing. There is also a campground at Oxbow and pets are not allowed.
Dabney is a state park and has a $5 day fee. You can buy a state park pass for $35/year as well. Dogs are also not allowed.

What animals will I see?

I have taken this route dozens of times and have seen: Deer, salmon, trout, sturgeon, hawks, ducks, bald eagles, crawfish, herons, and more. This section of river is mostly wild with very little housing on the shores and is a great opportunity to see and enjoy nature.

Oxbow to Dabney Troutdale
Troutdale Oxbow

When is the best time to go?

This water is Mt. Hood snowmelt and thus is usually pretty chilly. In early spring, the water is extremely fast and cold. I would recommend going between May- September for best water conditions. Later in the summer the water gets extremely low and sometimes you may get stuck and have to walk a little. The water is at absolute peak between June and July.

How much experience is needed?

This is about as beginner as its gets out here. I would recommend going with someone who has been before but if that is not an option, you will likely be fine. There are some spots where you will need to pay attention as to not get hung up so be prepared.

Can I bring my dog?

Neither Oxbow or Dabney allow dogs. That being said, I have always told them my intention of traveling point A to B and have never had an issue bringing my pup down river.

oxbow to dabney troutdale
Oxbow to Dabney Troutdale


If you made it this far. Yes, you should go. It’s awesome and you will want to come time and time again!


oxbow troutdale
Oxbow Park
Oxbow to Dabney Troutdale