Attractions: This Class V whitewater paddle through Tumwater Canyon above Leavenworth is a challenging run for topnotch paddlers. Be sure to look your best for the tourists who line up along the guardrails to watch the action.
Skill: 4 (expert).
Fitness: 3 (advanced)
Distance: 7.5 miles long
Average Grade: 64 feet per mile (100 feet per mile at the steepest point)
River Flows: Refer to the USGS gauge for the Wenatchee River at Peshastin.
Water levels are also available through the NOAA river hotline at 206-526-8530. This stretch of river becomes class V at flows around 2000 cfs and becomes even harder at flows above 4000 cfs. Strong class IV boaters can enjoy this stretch of river as a pool-and-drop run in later summer at flows around 1000 cfs.
Minimum sggested level: 850 cfs
Maximum suggested level: 6000 cfs
Season: Most boaters will want to avoid the river at peak snowmelt, so early or late spring are the preferred periods. Lower flows often continue through a good part of the summer.
Access and Shuttle: This run parallels Highway 2. Swiftwater Picnic Area is a common place to put-in (mile 92.4 along Highway 2). You can take-out above Last Exit at Highway 2 (mile 98.5 along the highway) or paddle farther to the Icicle Creek Road bridge. Access the bridge by turning onto the Icicle Creek Road at the west end of Leavenworth (mile 99.1 off Highway 2) and driving about a mile to the bridge. NOTE: take-out downstream of the bridge on river left.
Map: See maps below for more information.
Trip Description: Tumwater Canyon is a unique resource for Washington paddlers providing big water class V in early summer and fun class IV late in the summer after other nearby runs are too low. Many paddlers get their first glimpse of this run during the peak of spring snow melt on trips over to the Wenatchee. At these flows the river is a chaotic maze of exploding holes and although it is sometimes run at these levels, many wait for later in the summer once other options are starting to dry up. It’s a great place to be in the middle of the summer and you’ll be sharing the river with sunbathers and folks swimming in the big pools between the rapids. This river runs right along Highway 2 so it’s easy to scout all the big drops from the highway. Don’t forget that they are much bigger down at water level than they look from the road. If you find yourself in over your head it’s always easy to hike out to the road.
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 and detailed information or to view photos and user comments, check this river’s information at American Whitewater.
Hazards and Disclaimers: All information including (but not limited to) descriptions of rapids, levels, directions, and weather, is subject to change without notice. Like a guidebook, this description is a service to the paddling community but should never be viewed as a substitute for careful river-reading, scouting, and assessment of skills. Recommended ‘runnable’ water levels do not constitute a determination of conditions under which a stream is ‘safe.’ No one affiliated with WenatcheeOutdoors can be held liable for any decisions based on the information provided in these pages.
Got 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.