Skill: 1 (beginner)
Fitness: 1 (easy)
Attractions: Big desert vistas, towering basalt walls, sun to tan in, and cool water to swim in. This short trip has the added benefit of Native American pictographs to view.
Distance: Roundtrip paddling distance is 4 miles.
Access: In Wenatchee, using the intersection of South Wenatchee Ave and Crawford St as the zero point, drive south on Wenatchee Ave. This becomes the Malaga Alcoa Highway. Drive 14 miles from Crawford Street and then turn left on the Tarpiscan Rd. Go 1.5 miles along Tarpiscan Road. Just after you enter the Colockum Wildlife Area, turn left off the pavement onto a gravel road. Follow the gravel road .3 miles down to the water where you’ll find a primitive boat launch. There are no facilities here so use a restroom before you come and bring all the water you need for the outing.
Trip Instructions: Put on the water and paddle south downstream. Following the edge of the river closely, the distance to the pictographs is 2 miles. In mid September when we paddled this on a calm day, it took under an hour to reach the pictographs.
- To find the pictographs aim for the biggest cliffs. There is a double draw just north of the pictographs and dirt, rocks and sand have washed down these draws to form flatter ground at the base of the draws — it’s a bit of a delta. Go to the very south end of this double draw and just where the flat ground disappears into an overhanging cliff, pull ashore.
- Walk along the cliffs in a northerly direction (uphill) and some 75 feet from the water’s edge you’ll see the first rust-colored pictorgraph. Keep walking along the base of the cliff and you’ll find a fence that has been erected (presumably to protect the pictographs) and more pictographs behind the fence.
- The pictographs aren’t in the greatest shape–many have bled their color or disappeared from being under water at times. Nonetheless, this makes a fun destination and adds interest to the outing.
- Note: You’ll find lots of poison ivy around the base of the cliffs and overgrowing the protective fence. Be careful.
Season: A nice trip any time of year. Dress for cold, wet conditions if paddling in winter — and don’t fall in.
Land Ownership: Colockum Wildlife Area (state owned).
Map: See map (USGS 7.5-minute map: Rock Island Dam) below for more information.
Permits: None needed.
Misc: From the put-in for this trip, it’s a 28-mile paddle down river to Vantage. This makes a nice overnight trip. The majority of the paddle down to Vantage has no roads or railroads bordering the river and provides a nice sense of solitude.
Trip Reporter (and date): Andy Dappen 9/23/2006
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