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River Floating

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  River Floating
Float the River in scenic Central Washington!


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Floating the Yakima River
Ellensburg, WA 98926
Floating the Yakima River is a great way to spend a weekend in Kittitas County. Kittitas County's dry, arid, sunny days make these floats especially nice. Depending on the section you decided to float, most of the river is an easy class 1 or 2 experience. The river can be floated with numerous vessels, but there are several places in the area that rent rafts and gear for the safest experience available.

The time of year might influence your decision as to where to float. During the Spring and Summer the upper river offers towering pines, basalt cliffs and some fun rapids to experience, but the canyon section during the fall offers full autumn colors, wildlife viewing and a mellow class 1 river floating to enjoy. Both are unique and enjoyable!

Additional Access Points (Put in or take out's)
Ellensburg, WA 98926
Umptanum Recreation Area: This free access spot is just north of mile post 16 off of Canyon Road.

Red's Fly Shop and Lodge: A mile farther downstream is Red's Fly Shop and Lodge, where you can launch or take out for a fee. Go to: Red's Fly Shop.

Squaw Creek Access: Between mile 12 and mile 13 along Canyon Road is the Bureau of Land Management's Squaw Creek Recreation Site. This newly developed site has a paved boat ramp, picnic tables, tent sites, and pit toilets. Fees apply.

The Slab: Near mile 10 is a rough ramp/take-out with a stretch of bank access.

Roza Recreation Site: The last take-out spot is BLM's Roza Recreation Area, marked with a large sign and easy to see from the road. It has a wide blacktop ramp, large paved parking area, pit toilets, and camping sites.

Lower Yakima Canyon - Ringer Road > Rosa Dam
Ellensburg, WA 98926
Take I-90 to exit 109 into Ellensburg and head south on Canyon Road. There is a truck stop just south of the exit. Head south on Canyon Road and Ringer Loop Road will be on your right. The boat launch area is about half way around the loop. Drop off all of your equipment and people and continue back down Canyon road to the Rosa Dam Recreation Area to drop off the cars to come back. (Both of these areas need a Department of Fish and Wildlife access permit for each vehicle.)

Warning: The area of the river just below Ringer Road has numerous snags and debris. It can be extremely dangerous. Floaters often put in further down the canyon for a safer entrance and a shorter float.
Ringer to Rosa float, depending on the time of year, should take 4-5 hours.

Upper Yakima River
Ellensburg, WA 98926

On I-90 take exit 78 (Golf Course Road).  From the exit head north to Hundley Rd, go left (west) on Hundley, it parallels I-90 on the north side.  Go all the way to the end (about 2 miles) to a turnaround.  There is a dirt road (Department of Game and Wildlife) which goes down to a parking lot and river access area.  (Fishing parking permits are required if you leave a car)
The pull out is just under the bridge where I-90 crosses the Yakima.  From the exit go south and take a left on the small fronting road the parallels the highway.  Head down about a half mile, there is a pull out where the road bends right by the river.  If you go to the Sun Country residential area you've gone too far.   Float time about 2.5 to 3 hours.

River "put in" is just 5 miles southeast of Cle Elum at the boat ramp near the Teanaway River.  The ramp is near where highway 10 intersects with Highway 970. It is a Department of Fish and Wildlife access area and you will need a $10 access decal to fish or launch a boat or raft. Decals can be picked up at any place that sells fishing licenses.
Warning: In the fall months, about an hour into the float you may come across some "Danger" signs warning to exit the river.  This is because an irrigation canal "shoot" dumps water into the Yakima at this point. Heed the warning! The water shoots across the Yakima River and is extremely dangerous. The water creates a whirlpool and is impossible to paddle out of!  Portage at this point is crucial!

One exit point is Swauk Creek, but the Kittitas County Reclamation District (KRD) has blocked the access road so it is quite a hike up the hill to haul your gear.

The most popular place to pull out is just before the diversion dam at what the locals call the "land slide."  About 300 yards ahead of time there will be another danger sign about the Diversion Dam ahead.  At this point start moving over to the left of the river. The water on the left is still and makes it fairly easy getting out and pulling the boat to shore.  It takes scramble up the hill to load up your gear. Note: Do not try to maneuver past the Diversion Dam! It is extremely dangerous!

This float is approximately 34 miles so, depending on the time of the year, will take some time.

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