Yakima River Canyon is one of Wa State's most scenic river paddles and is great for all skill levels. A 1.5 hour drive east of Seattle and located directly south of Ellensburg on Highway 821 (Canyon Road), the river can be easily accessed from I-90. Driving south of the interstate, you begin to drop into the canyon within a few miles. Immediately you will enjoy it's steep grassy hillsides and winding two lane route which parallels the river. The river is also known as a 'Blue Ribbon' fly fishing and catch and release only river. Drift boats are common as are fishermen along it's bushy shores. Red's Fly Shop is located in the canyon and can assist with any fishing questions.
The best guidebook for the trip is "PaddlingWashington: 100 Flatwater and Whitewater Routes in Wahsington State and the Inland Northwest," by Rich Landers and Dan Hansen and published by Mountaineers Books. Click HERE for ordering info.
The canyon route is a Class 1 section of the river, meaning it moves but has few rapids and small riffles to worry about and thus doesn't require much or any river experience. That said, always wear a lifejacket and appropiate immersion clothing for the water and air temperature. The river is very popular in summer with rafters. I'm hoping to try it this year on a SUP with rubber fins.
Details from the book:
- Distance: 19 miles
- Time: 6 hours.
- Season: Year Around (note early summer flows can be swift).
- Shuttle: 20 miles, pavement.
- Class 1+.
- Hazards: Heavy wind, strainers, scattered rapids.
- Info: BLM in Spokane.
- Maps: USGS Ellensburg South, Kittitas, Wymer
- Put In: Ringer, 2.5 miles below I-90.
- Take-out: BLM Roza Recreation Area.
- Camping: Several spots along the river, mostly BLM land.
- More Info & Contact #'s: Public Lands.
- BLM Site & Map of Area: HERE.
Learn more about river paddling from local author, Jeff Bennett. His book "The Essential Whitewater Kayaker" by McGraw hill is a good one. My SUP book also has a solid chapter dedicated to river paddling.