CLE ELUM DAM to the CONFLUENCE at the YAKIMA RIVER
Photo: The Cle Elum River Valley
Description. The Cle Elum is slightly farther afield than the normal WenatcheeOutdoors driving range, but in mid to late summer when paddling options around home are few, this dam-controlled river typically has good flows. This river has fairly continuous class II rapids with some good wave trains. Advanced beginners will find the run enjoyable at lower flows but there are fewer eddies at higher flows. Log hazards are prevalent along the run.
Distance: 7.8 miles
Difficulty: Class II
Gauge Description. The gauge on the Cle Elum River is accurate for this section which is just below the dam. Look for flows of 1000 to 3000 cfs. Information on project operation can be found by checking Yakima Project System Status. The Army Corps provides an alternative gauge interface.
- From I-90 take exit 80 and head for Roslyn/Salmon La Sac.
- 0.4 miles from I-90 you will cross the take-out bridge over the Cle Elum. Parking options are not great here, but you’ll find a pull-out for a couple cars on the river right side of the bridge. There is good access downstream river right of the bridge.
- To reach the put-in, continue 2.3 miles east from the take-out bridge to the intersection with Highway 903 and turn left towards the north (at this point you’re at mile 4.2 on Highway 903 which becomes Salmon La Sac Road).
- Pass through the town of Rosyln and continue north to one of two possible access points. The first is an informal Forest Service site along the river.
- At mile 8.6 on Salmon La Sac Road turn left on Winston Road. Follow this road 1.2 miles to an access point right on the river. It is a gravel road and there are several turns that branch off to gravel pits and staging areas but just stay generally straight and towards the end you will go down a hill to the river (you should see a Forest Service sign board and some informal camp sites).
- The next access is a short way up river but the road to get down the river is in worse shape. You reach it by turning left off Salmon La Sac Road at mile 9.1 on to Lake Cabin Road , and then take a second immediate left following the sign to Cle Elum Dam.
- Continue 0.5 miles toward the dam and turn left on to an unimproved dirt road (high clearance recommended). From here it’s 0.4 miles down to a bridge with a put-in on river left.
Map. A general scale map of the run.
Recommended Season. Late May through early September. Dam release is relatively stable although fluctuations can occur without warning.
The source of the information included in this entry is the American Whitewater website. River conditions are subject to change, especially after storms or floods. For more the most up-to-date information or to view photos and user comments, check this river’s information at American Whitewater.
Updates. If you have a detailed account of running this section of river, please submit it to the editor at WenatcheeOutdoors.org.
Leave It Better Than You Found It: This should be every outdoor user’s goal. Pick up trash left by others, pull some noxious weeds along your route, throw branches over unwanted spur trails, don’t ride or walk wet trails when you’re leaving ruts/footprints deeper than ¼ inch…
Disclaimer. Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Conditions change and those contributing these reports are volunteers–they may make mistakes or not know all the issues affecting a route. You are responsible for yourself, your actions, and your safety. If you won’t accept that responsibility, you are prohibited from using our information.