Wenatchee - 3. Leavenworth to Monitor


Wenatchee, Washington, US

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3. Leavenworth to Monitor

Usual Difficulty III (for normal flows)
Length 18.6 Miles

Wenatchee's Rodeo Hole


Wenatchee's Rodeo Hole
Photo of Claudio Piani by Thomas O'Keefe В© taken 05/02/98 @ 13,700 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
WENATCHEE RIVER AT PESHASTIN, WA
usgs-12459000 2500 - 20000 cfs III 00h58m 3230 cfs (running)


River Description

FUN FACT: Some of the best playboating in the state

SEASON: Late spring (as soon as the snow melt kicks into gear) through early summer (as long as the snowmelt lasts). You always wish it would last longer.

EVENTS: Wenatchee River Festival

ACCESS: There are basically three different common put-in options depending on your preference for a longer run or a shorter run that concentrates on the best play features.

1 - River Cruisers: When the flows are high, or if you just want to spend a long day on the river, you can put in at the access in Leavenworth. This access is upstream of the Highway 2 bridge across the Wenatchee (near the Safeway) on river right. Follow East Leavenworth Road 0.7 mile up to the public access with a big parking area. The most popular put-in for those who want to run the river and take in the best features, particularly if flows are below 10,000 cfs, is in the town of Peshastin (you'll need a Discover Pass to use this access) which gives you about an 8 mile run. At Highway 2 mile 103.6 turn east on to Main Street and cross the bridge into the town of Peshastin. After you cross the river, turn right onto School Street. Continue past the school and down the gravel drive to the river access on river left. The put-in is on the edge of a residential neighborhood and was nearly closed after complaints from locals. Drive slowly through town and use discretion when changing here. Although the put-in is a little dusty, the take-out at Riverside Park in Cashmere is first class. A ramp runs right down into the water making it a simple task to get out on shore and find your way over to the crowd of boaters sitting out on the grass. Here you can enjoy the seemingly endless supply of chips and cold beverages that seem to emerge from shuttle vehicles. There are picnic tables and changing rooms here. To reach this takeout take Highway 2 to mile 111.1, turn west onto Aplets Way, and cross the bridge into Cashmere. Turn left and work your way towards the river (the park is downstream river right of the bridge). Although most kayakers have had enough by the time they get to Cashmere, there is another takeout at Wenatchee River County Park in Monitor.

2 - Play and Cruising
For those who want to shorten the run a bit (by about a mile and half) you can put- in at the base of the diversion dam where Peshastin Creek enters the river. Turn off from Highway 2 just south of the Highway 2 bridge across Peshastin Creek (at Highway 2 mile 105.2) and follow Saunders Road 0.3 miles back to Peshastin Creek. Turn right before you cross the creek onto a road that takes you 0.4 miles to an unimproved parking area next to the dam that was recently acquired by WDFW (the good news is the access, which was previously owned by DOT and threatened for closure or possible sale, will remain public but it now requires a Discover Pass. You can also combine the big water of the Wenatchee with a creek boating entry by boating Peshastin Creek down to the Wenatchee. Use the same take-out in Cashmere as described above.

3 - Playboaters
A final option for a put-in that is popular with the playboating crowd is to put-in at Rodeo Hole. This is a much shorter run (4 miles) but you can spend as long as you want at all of the best rapids. To reach Rodeo Hole directly, turn north on to Johnson Road at mile 106.5 off Highway 2 (it's easy to miss this turn--it's right by the sign to Dryden). Take an immediate left on to Frontage Road which then becomes Stine Hill Road. On the way to Rodeo Hole you will dip down close to the river at one point just upstream of the trailer park and this roadside access has been used by folks who don't have a vehicle access pass, but most continue on to the main parking area. In 1.7 miles from the Highway 2 turn-off you will see a cream colored house with a blue/gray roof (as of 2012) at a break in the guardrail. Head down the gravel drive to the north side of the house, 0.2 miles through the orchards, and down to the public parking area near the railroad bridge (you'll need Discover Pass to use this access, yes they do check and you will get a ticket). Rodeo Hole is a couple hundred yards upstream of the railroad bridge. If you're using this access you'll probably run your shuttle on river right. It's 3.2 miles to Cashmere and you'll pass an excellent taco stand. Continue on downstream on Stine Hill Road which becomes Sunset Highway. When you get to Cashmere turn left and cross the railroad tracks. After crossing the tracks take your second right and follow it about a block and half to Riverside Park.

DESCRIPTION:

As the winter wears on, west-side boaters dream of the big Wenatchee play waves, sunny eastern Washington skies, and lounging on the grass at the Cashmere takeout. Don't expect to find either solitude or scenic wonders here. While this run has some of the best playboating in the state, it's not uncommon to find yourself waiting in long lines in the eddies (often you can get the river to yourself on weekdays or during the early morning on the weekend). Apple orchards dominate the streamside vegetation here and you'll pass a number of houses and even a trailer park. It's hard not to enjoy the experience though and for those feeling the need for an audience or a look at the season's newest playboats (or the museum pieces the old timers bring out) this is the place to find it.

Starting in Leavenworth the first major rapid is Boulder Bend which is just downstream of the Highway 2 bridge. At higher flows you can find some good surf waves and dodge a few holes on the outside (river left) of the bend. Those looking for the easier line can stay to the right on the inside of the bend.

Once you get through Boulder Bend, the river is mostly swift flatwater for a few miles until you get to Peshastin. Happy Wave, a fun little surf spot on river right with it's on private access point is on this section. Paddlers can get permission to use this for park and play by joining the Happy Wave Beach Club--inquire at Leavenworth Mountain Sports. 

Below Peshastin, the first major rapid is Rock and Roll. This 200 yd. rapid is typical of those on the Wenatchee with a big wave train and a big hole--on this rapid it forms right of center and is known as Satan's Eyeball. The river continues along at a moderate pace until you reach the lowhead dam where Peshastin Creek enters. The terminal hydraulic that forms at the base of this dam is a guranteed drowning machine (especially on river right). The concrete structure of the dam is easy to see from upstream and the portage trail is on river right. The sneak that develops around the left at some water levels is for regulars--don't try it unless you know the line, have the skills to execute it, and understand the dangers associated with lowhead dams.

After the dam, the river flows through the rural landscape to the first of many highway bridges below the dam. This is one of the first places where you'll see a line of brightly colored kayaks as there is some good surfing to be had on a couple smooth glassy waves that form on river right just upstream of the bridge. From this point on, the river presents an endless supply of class III rapids and excellent catch-them-on-the-fly surf spots.

The next significant spot to stop to show your stuff is Rodeo Hole. It's just upstream of the third railroad bridge (about 4 river miles downstream from the lowhead dam). You can recognize this spot by a large granite face (room for a couple dozen spectators) that slopes down to the river on the right hand side. This is a popular stop for lunch and surfing so if the water is at a good level (best above 10,000 cfs) expect a crowd in the eddy and a group cheering from the rock.

Drunkard's Drop follows a short distance around the corner from Rodeo Hole. It's recognized by a large dirt cliff on river left and a big wave train extending downstream. The photographers will be shooting as you come through Drunkard's. Hop onto Pit Stop, the big wave at the top that you need to catch on the fly. From there you can eddy out for the opportunity to surf the waves at Drunkard's Drop. For those in longer boats you may be able to catch the waves from the eddy on river right at around 5,000 cfs and you can even find some fun stuff around 3,000. As flows rise above 10,000 Trinity Wave over on the left side is where the action is.

The next significant feature on the run is a surf wave on river left known as Turkey Shoot. This is one of the best spots in the state to hone your playboating skills. A friendly feature with easy eddy service that is great at a wider range of flows than any other feature on the river, makes this a popular stop.

The last formidable rapid on the river is Snowblind. If you're looking for a clean line, this is one of the more technically challenging rapids on the river as there are several waves and holes of different sizes to be negotiated. Otherwise you can punch through just about everything although there are a couple holes that get a little intimidating at some water levels. You can find some decent play in this rapid but for most of it you only get one shot. Granny's is a short distance downstream before you cross under the highway bridge into Cashmere. The waves here provide some of the best surfing at low water and you typically have decent eddy service at the gravel bar to river left of the wave, but look out for Suffocator right below. It will either provide you with some great play or eat you for lunch depending on levels and your skills. Once under the bridge look for the takeout ramp on river right.

Here's what Clay Wright has to say about this great springtime play run at flows around 12k:

"Today the Rodeo Hole is kickin' and we're going big on past-vert blunts to the right on river right - there is actually a tube at the very corner to kick you around hard. Out on river left we're popping straight airs -air blunts, clean blunts, back air blunts, flip turns, and donkey flip/ air screws. Trinity wave is huge too, and some BIG air was had, but lots of workings too. Very fast, so kinda violent when you flip. Snowblind is chock full of surfing - too many holes to hit in one round. Too bad you can't walk back up! Suffocator wave at the end is now a breaking wave and we're hitting air blunts on that too. Working the 'Macho move" a downstream loop off a wave-train between rapids, and of course the kickflips are flying high too. Gotta go - second session leaving soon."

for additional information see

  • Bennett, J. and T. Bennett. 1997. A guide to the whitewater rivers of Washington, second edition. Swiftwater Publishing. Portland, OR.
  • North, D.A. 1992. Washington whitewater. Mountaineers. Seattle, WA.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2017-01-05 02:50:52

Editors


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
-23.5Boulder BendIII
-21.5Happy WaveII+Photo
-19.3Peshastin River AccessN/AAccess
-18.5Rock and Roll/Satan's EyeballIII
-17.7Dryden DamPortage Hazard Photo
-16.5Auto ReturnII+Playspot Photo
-14.0Rodeo HoleIII+Access Playspot Photo
-13.3Drunkard's DropIII+Photo
-12.5Turkey ShootII+Photo
-10.9SnowblindIII+Photo
-10.5Granny's/SuffocatorIIIPhoto
-10.0Cashmere Riverside ParkAccess Photo

Rapid Descriptions

Boulder Bend (Class III, Mile -23.5)

This is the first rapid with some good waves to surf and a few holes to dodge towards the river left side or you can sneak most of it by staying t the river right side.



Happy Wave (Class II+, Mile -21.5)

Happy Wave

Happy Wave
Photo of Jason by Al taken 04/15/03 @ 5000 cfs

A well-know community park-and-play spot (private access) particularly as flows drop.



Peshastin River Access (Class N/A, Mile -19.3)

Popular river access for a full day on the river that takes in the good rapids but requires a portage of the dam at Dryden. This access requires a Discover Pass parking permit.



Rock and Roll/Satan's Eyeball (Class III, Mile -18.5)

Fun Waves and Holes. The bigger hole right of center is Satan's Eyeball.



Dryden Dam

Dryden Dam

Dryden Dam
Photo of Steve Exe by Thomas O'Keefe В© taken 05/12/06

Portage trail on the right to avoid the deadly hydraulic that forms below this dam.



Auto Return (Class II+, Mile -16.5)

Auto Return

Auto Return
Photo of Frank by Thomas O'Keefe В© taken 05/12/06

A couple nice surf waves with easy eddy service on river right.



Rodeo Hole (Class III+, Mile -14.0)

Rodeo Hole, view from upstream

Rodeo Hole, view from upstream
Photo of Tim Blecha by Thomas O'Keefe taken 05/07/06 @ 9900 cfs

The classic Wenatchee playspot. Access is available on river right that requires a Discover Pass. At lower flows the hole will not be in but you can often find some good surf.



Drunkard's Drop (Class III+, Mile -13.3)

Drunkard's Drop: Trinity Wave

Drunkard's Drop: Trinity Wave
Photo of Tim Blecha by Thomas O'Keefe taken 05/07/06 @ 9900 cfs

Drunkard's changed dramatically with a landslide during the winter of 2012 that deposited a big boulder in the river near the cliff on river left. You can navigate the fun line between the boulder and the wall on river right or sneak by on river right. Trinity Wave was a great play feature that was just below this boulder that now appears to have modified the flow.



Turkey Shoot (Class II+, Mile -12.5)

Turkey Shoot

Turkey Shoot
Photo of Devin Smith by Thomas O'Keefe taken 05/07/06 @ 9900 cfs

Good surf spot for building skills on river left. It is one of the most consistent performing play spots on the river that is accessible and provides good surfing at a wide range of flows. You can spend hours here and many pull out a snack and relax on the rocks.



Snowblind (Class III+, Mile -10.9)

Snowblind

Snowblind
Photo of Tim Blecha by Thomas O'Keefe taken 05/07/06 @ 9900 cfs

Lots of holes and waves characterize this rapid. The clean line changes at flows but it is pretty straight forward read-and-run or point your bow upstream and see how many waves you can catch on the fly.



Granny's/Suffocator (Class III, Mile -10.5)

Granny's

Granny's
Photo of Eric Bessette by Thomas O'Keefe В© taken 07/04/03 @ 3400 cfs

Granny's forms a great surf wave in the middle of the river right channel with eddy service. It is notable as a play feature that is still pretty good at the lower range of fllows. Suffocator is just below and sometimes it is good for catch-on-the-fly surf and at other times (higher flows) you might want to pass it by.



Cashmere Riverside Park

Cashmere River Access

Cashmere River Access
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe В© taken 06/22/03

Popular take-out for the main run on the Wenatchee marks the end of the class III rapids.




User Comments

Users can submit comments.
June 20 2014 (1007 days ago)
JRSurbaugh (152802)
Ran 6-18-11. 9.5 grand = great clean fun, I've never ran a river so full of nice haystacks & fluffy
holes while not being surrounded by such a minimal amount of clear & present danger (Obviously LOG
JAMS & strainers can creep up on you while running this FAST FLOWING river)... pour-overs & big
rocks sticking out = rare; & to me it's like paddling thru heaven, but everybdy from around here
says the scenery on th Wenatchee pales in comparison to other local rivers. .....
.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------..... .......
......... *** The bridge pillars are no joke, *** will pin raft *** run in between them & just stay
clean around / through the pillars, there is some deceptive spots around them, but nothing u should
regret missing. *** ..................... -‎you want to MISS "SATAN'S EYEBALL" (upper-middle of
"Rock-n-Roll") by taking the clean-channel river-left (& the clean-line imo is hitting the wave
train & hole at the bottom of "Rock-n-Roll"). *** Satan's Eyball *** looked slightly different my
2nd time through; for some reason it looked like I had more room to dodge it at 9.5k, but it also
looked like a bigger & more consistent hole than what I saw at 8.5. ... . .*** It is easy to walk
Dryden Dam *** ***........... . I followed somebody and ran the dam. There is a little ledge drop
that I ran going around the dam, but just * KNOW WHERE IT IS AT. * I fear describing this without a
picture, so do not just go on this statement: If someone convinces you to just paddle around the
dam: [ To the best of my recollection ] There is a little tiny wave train that comes in towards
this thing that I remember as looking like a chunk of concrete. Use this as a guide. Go to the left
of 'the chunk' of concrete or whatever, but do not get too far from the little wave train, you can
ride the edge of the wave-train in (river-left side of the little wave train) To the best of my
recollection The ledge drop sits at an angle. Don't get sucked too far left. *
---------------------------------------------------------------------- Snowblind is unavoidable &
you have to constantly adjust to haystack wave after haystack wave. * Snowblind * is a madhouse of
haystack & squirly haystack waves Everywhere... & its a little bigger than what it looks like on th
aw pics. Don't let somebody flush-drown on this rapid. ... At lower levels my guess is that it can
be rather rocky down there, & slam! With the rock there I'd just go right at Drunkards. My common
sense told me to hit a hole or two in Grannies. Granny's will require you to read & run & choose
which hit to take. Takeout is soon after, so think about that. ... Have fun!
April 8 2013 (1445 days ago)
riverfanatik (154475)
I think there should be a bit more beta on this page on Boulder Bend, so here goes. The rapid
starts with a set of wave trains on a long straightaway that passes under highway 2, which leads
into an enormous wave/hole that marks the beginning of Boulder Bend proper. A lot of paddlers call
this wave "Aguirri" (meaning the wrath of god) since its so powerful. It doesn't look that big as
your approaching, but trust me, Aguirri can flip rafts easily, especially above 10,000 cfs. Aguirri
is visible from the highway two bridge on the way to the put in if its your first time. Immediately
after Aguirri, the main current splits around a shallower section in the middle. Go left of Aguirri
for the bigger water (class III+-IV), or stay right of it and dodge the boulders, working your way
back into the middle (class III-III+). What makes this rapid hazardous is the potential for long
swims. Boulder Bend is about a half mile long from start to finish, and swimming the whole thing
can be exhausting. Boulder bend also has the highest potential for wood (a log killed somebody 2
years ago), especially on the left side. Entrapment could pose a threat at lower levels.
May 7 2012 (1781 days ago)
apexskier (154407)
Here's a video of the left line of Drunkard's Drop with the new boulder.
http://youtu.be/ZLJMf6s5ZMo
May 1 2012 (1787 days ago)
Kathy SpencerDetails
There is a new boulder in Drunkard's Drop on river left, as of winter 2011/2012
June 30 2011 (2093 days ago)
JRSurbaugh (152802)
... Ran for 1st time: 6/4/11 At 8.5k CFS : Vessel: 10ft. self bailing raft / ("mini-me") * Put In:
"Fishermens' Access", just off road accross from Safeway (Leavenworth) on Safeway-side of bridge.
River Right. * * Take Out: Cashmere, park. Where everybdy takes out. Just past Granny's. River
Right. Right bank marked with River Shrubery / take-out has concrete ramp. *
............................................................................. * The Leavenworth to
Monitor section of the Wenatchee, from the dam to the takeout, is a fairly wide river. Big holes
can generally be avoided. I do not consider it to be a very "technical" river, & American
Whitewater says it can be ran between 2,500 & 20,000 cfs. . . . Just because the Wenatchee is not
considered to be "very technical", it does not mean there are not challenges or risk involved: * *
* * * * *** The Wenatchee is a VERY FAST flowing river * * * * * *** Stay away from Bridge Pillars
/ trestles. The current pulls you to them with more force as you get closer. *** * The first big
rapid is called "Rock N Roll" : This seems to be the last rapid with "creeky" feeling to it, as
waters from Tumwater (seen from Rt. 2) will soon dam out into a playful section of the Wenatchee.
(walk around the dam) .... At the top (during the first part) of "Rock N Roll" ... [& The River
feels very constricted here to somebody seeing it for the first time] ... In the center of the
river there is a hole called "Satan's Eyeball" ... This particular hole & the bridge pillars /
trestles are what worried me at 8.5 grand. ... ... At the bottom (or during the 2nd part) of the
rapid big there is almost a River Wide plethora of haystacks & breaking haystacks ... awesome to
hit, might not be fun to swim. ... ... There is a sneak line just to the left of "Satan's Eyeball."
Using this line you feel like you can reach out and touch 'the eyeball' as you go by. ... I could
be wrong, but from the little I've seen "Satan's Eyeball" looks like a hole with a big, flat,
slanted rock wedged in an upward like direction, giving the appearance of a big fluffy hole, When
in reality It may be pretty munchy. Just after the eyeball (or right at the eyeball), and it might
be my imagination, there seems to be a small break in the action of the rapid as the river seems to
take a relatively steep drop in gradient. It seemed like th safe route through the 2nd part of
"Rock-n-Roll" was center, comming in kinda on ' the tail of the "eyeball" ' : I took that line &
still got in there somewhere & hit a nice haystack wave for a 10 ft. raft. ... ... ... Other than
that, in regards to everything after the dam, next time at 8.5k I'm going bigger. Haystack waves
everywhere! Some cool 'fast moving pools' with some nice scenery behind you too. Look back every
once in a while. -Jared


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