Hayden Island is an understated, boat-friendly intersection for some of the Pacific Northwest’s grandest crossroads. Perched a stone’s throw south and upstream of the Columbia River and Willamette River confluence, Hayden Island joins neighboring Sauvie Island as one of Oregon’s distinctive river islands with its own unique culture and history.
Not only is it located near the river confluence, but it also sits on the I-5 corridor, an access route that makes Hayden Island feel less like an island and more like an extension of the mainland. While technically part of Portland, Oregon, it really feels like its own half-town, sitting equidistant between “real” Portland and Vancouver, Washington.
Throw in more details, like the undeveloped western half, the marinas around every corner, and the floating home communities, and there really isn’t anywhere else quite like it. What other island sits on the passages between the Cascade Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, Canada and Mexico (via I-5), the Willamette and Columbia rivers, and Oregon and Washington border?
The island’s history of many names reflects the place’s crossroads past. In 1792, Lieutenant William Robert Broughton, commander of the Royal Navy survey brig HMS Chatham, called it Menzies after a botanist aboard. Lewis and Clark named it Canoe Island in 1805; the Hudson Bay Company called it Vancouver Island; a Colonel named it after himself (Shaw); and ultimately local settler Gay Hayden made his home there in 1851, winning the naming tug of war once and for all.
Hayden Island is a natural stop for both resupply and recreation. The water access and surplus of moorage options have made Hayden Island a proper marine hub. Many of the area’s yacht brokers, chandleries, craftspeople, etc., are eager to offer their services. Its strategic position is one of Hayden Island’s greatest assets, and the island has plenty of river fun to offer in its own right.