I'm pretty sure there are a crazy amount of Washingtonians who haven't paddled the Yakima River in Eastern Washington. It is one of our favorite 1/2 to full day paddles/floats. It's a blast! The last time we paddled we took the easy route, from Umtanum to Roza (just south of the town of Ellensburg, WA). This time, paddled during last summer, we knew we wanted to do a little more and decided to try Ringer to Roza.
First thing's first, we dropped off people (there were 6 of us on this trip) and gear at the Ringer boat launch (outside of Ellensburg, on Ringer Loop Road, upriver from the Umtanum launch site). Now, there are a lot of ways to do this, but we had half of our team take cars A, B, & C to the end at Roza. The other half stayed and got the kayaks ready to go at Ringer.
Cars A & B were left at the end (Roza), and everyone came back (to Ringer) in car C. Car C was left at Ringer. We spent the day kayaking downriver and when we finished we jumped into cars A & B and came back to Ringer and exchanged people/distributed gear back to cars A, B, & C. This worked well with the 6 of us, including our 5 inflatable kayaks...and gear...and refreshments.
The paddle was a dream - in the summer the air is warm, sun hot, water cool, and the river moves at a pretty normal speed. We paddled the approximately 15 miles from Ringer to Roza in about 5 hours. We stopped once for lunch.
If you plan to go it's always a good idea to check the river (here's a greatlink to a handy map and a local company you could contact about conditions). Also, prepare to pay small fees to park at both locations - one is the Department of Fish & Wildlife and the other is BLM...bring a little cash, read the signs and you're good to go! Don't forget your PFDs and just a tip - most folks don't recommend starting any higher than Ringer on this portion of river unless you've got some experience. Taking out lower isn't possible, due to a dam...see you on the river this summer!
~Paul, Amber, Keith, Vic, Mandy, Karl ETC
I had so much fun taking pictures on our Autumn paddle of the Skagit River in the North Cascades that I had to share more of them with this quick, mostly photo post. Catch all of the info on this paddle and more in our previous post - we can't wait to paddle this river again!
~Paul, Amber, Karl, Mandy
As the weather warms up around here and you prepare for some summer/late summer Pacific Northwest adventures, don't count out the Skagit River. The river snakes some 150 miles from Canada into Washington, through the North Cascades and empties into the Puget Sound. We catch up with it downriver from Lake Diablo and Ross Lake, around the towns of Marblemount and Rockport. These towns are located on highway 20, just before a popular entrance to the North Cascades National Park.
We've paddled it before (post here & the river mouth here) and this time we wanted to paddle a little more upriver from our usual launch site at Marblemount (map to usual launch site…the parking lot just over the bridge). After leaving one car at Rockport (free parking but pay a minimal launch fee when you land), we (4 of us this trip) loaded up all of our gear and drove up highway 20 looking for a safe place to park and a decent place to launch on the river. Luckily we were all paddling inflatable Innova kayaks or we and our gear wouldn't have fit into the one compact car! There were a lot of places to leave the car and we settled on a not too scary place to launch (7.4 miles past the bridge at Marblemount…After mile-marker 113).
Amber and I are not whitewater kayakers by any means and although it was late summer and the water looks refreshing in these pictures, it's cold…really cold and moving fast. We trusted ourselves and our experience, packed everything in our boats and set off. We hit some pretty good whitewater right at the beginning but we made it - staying dry!
And then it started pouring rain. Yikes. So much for dry. It quickly passed and we had great weather the rest of the paddle!
There are quite a few places to stop for a rest and bite to eat. The lighting was perfect for a wifey-hat photo-shoot.
The river was slightly more challenging than the last time, Amber and I almost tipped! It wasn't from splashy whitewater but from high-centering our boat on some shallow rocks and being pushed by the fast current. Instincts kicked in - she turned one way and I counteracted by shifting by bodyweight to the other… we ended up safe and dry!
We ended up paddling over 15 miles! It took around 5-6 hours with a lunch break and lots of picture time. Afterward we got both of the cars together and stopped midway at the Cascadian Home Farm for some flowers, ice cream, berries, and espresso. A gorgeous Northwest adventure!
Some tips if you go:
1. Dress warm, even in the summer. I always carry an emergency blanket just in case someone gets dunked and can't quite warm up.
2. Make sure whatever boat/kayak you are using is rated for this type of river.
3. A leash connecting you to your boat/paddle is a pretty good idea.
4. Wear your PFD at all times!
5. If you are paddling a narrow kayak like ours, a rudder or skeg helps greatly with tracking (steering).
6. Call and ask either the Ranger Station at Newhalem or possibly an outfitting company nearby about the condition of the river before you paddle. We paddled this time in early October. Some years it's fast, slow, shallow, crazy. Shallow wouldn't be fun.
7. Make sure you can fit all of your gear and folks in one car (or you'll have to take two cars to the drop off, drop off the gear, then take two cars downriver, leave one, and come back in the other…I've gone cross-eyed.
8. Don't leave your keys to the downriver car in the upriver one;)
9. As with all adventuring - better to take more snacks & water than you think you'll need.
10. Don't want to drive back to the city? Look for lodging in both Rockport or Marblemount.
11. Don't let this trip be your first time kayaking…it's a touch tricky for beginners!
~Paul, Amber, Mandy, Karl
Our mini Oregon road trip wouldn't have been complete without telling you a little secret kept in the quaint, historic old town section of Florence (map). Not the sprawl part of town…I'm talking near the Marina/RV/Campground exists...free showers!!! Boo-yes stinky travelers!!! We had been camping at nearby Waxmyrtle, exploring the Dunes and other stops (here & here). Our campground didn't have showers so we were on the lookout. We stopped at a pay to do laundry/shower place in the newer part of town and a nice gentleman told us to search for the free showers near the port! He was right!
Old town Florence has lots more to offer (not just the showers) - cool restaurants, coffee, shops, river walk, and more. It's a great 1/2 day trip if you're close! A clean ending to a great Oregon Coast adventure!
~Paul, Amber, Mom ETC
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