Located right between Interstate 205 and the Willamette River, High Rocks and Cross Parks on the bank of Clackamas River are not only one of the most popular and heavily visited swimming holes in Portland but also one of the most notorious. Regardless, it is definitely the most visited destination in the quaint and sleepy town of Gladstone.
As the Clackamas begins to converge with the Willamette River, the widening river gets slower and deeper creating a natural swimming pool. The banks of the river are composed of high cliffs which provide for ample jumping opportunities for adrenaline junkies. While the dynamic rocky terrain is ideal for climbing, jumping or sunbathing, it carries its own hazards.
The frigid water temperatures alongside the strong currents, hidden underwater ledges, and an undercut bank are a deadly combination. The water simply appears calm on the surface but the tranquil exterior hides the incredible turbulence of the underwater currents. According to officials, High Rocks claims from two to four lives annually.
Notwithstanding the danger, High Rocks on the Clackamas River are a perfect getaway to escape the mid-summer heat.
The destination is crowded even though the proximity to the freeway is a deterrent. This is because the High Rocks Park on the Clackamas River boasts of an incredibly unique rocky bank and a breathtakingly picturesque stretch of water.
Furthermore, the rocky and steep outcropping alongside the river provides a perfectly rugged surface for those wishing to indulge in fishing, picnicking, or simply enjoying the sun. If the ruggedness of the terrain concerns you, it is essential to know that there are now lifeguards employed to prevent accidents from happening, allowing you and your loved ones to enjoy the true beauty of High Rocks.
For purposes to reduce water-related accidents at High Rocks, the lifeguard service works from Memorial Day to Labor Day every year.
Cautions: Cliff jumping and slippery rocks are associated with risks, please use caution and make safe decisions.
High Rocks | General Description
Managed: City of Gladstone
Services: Restrooms, drinking water, picnic sites, garbage service
Activities: Swimming, rock and cliff jumping, hiking, fishing
Accommodations: No camping in the park
Distance from the parking: Short
Road access: Any passenger vehicle
Day-use fees: None
Dogs: Must be on a leash
Elevation: 20 ft (5.5 m)
High Rocks Park is located:
- 2.5 miles northeast of Oregon City
- 17 miles south of downtown Portland
- 45 miles northeast of Salem.
Directions to High Rocks
- Take exit 11 from I-205 toward Gladstone/DMV
- Turn left onto 82nd Drive and continue 0.6 miles.