For many years Gary Korb’s guidebook, A Paddler’s Guide to the Olympic Peninsula, was
the primary source of information for paddlers who were in search of adventure in a landscape of
deep forests, spectacular gorges, and ever-changing rivers.
Out of print for two decades, we are pleased to report that Gary has given us permission to make
his guidebook available in electronic format for a new generation of paddlers (see document link
adjacent to this article and within all the river pages). While updated information on many of
the runs is available on our website and a few of the best gems are described in the new
guidebook Paddling Pacific Northwest Whitewater, Gary’s book remains the most comprehensive
guide to 75 river runs on the Olympic Peninsula.
Pacific Northwest winter storms and annual rainfall totals that can be measured in feet create a
diversity of rivers in a small geographic area within the coastal temperate rainforest. Paddlers
should use caution in relying on information from a guidebook that has not been updated since
1997: new logjams and landslides have created new hazards, many logging roads have washed out or
been decommissioned and timber companies have instituted new access restrictions, and a couple of
dams on the Elwha have been removed. The one constant in this landscape is change—it is
important to seek current information or approach these runs as exploratories—but the
original descriptions and entertaining stories are a part of the rich paddling history of the
For those who have sought a copy of the guidebook in recent years, we hope you will enjoy all the
great stories that include One Night After Work…, Tribualations of Vance Creek, A Question
in Judgement…, and others. Paul Butler’s essay on the Geology of Olympic Peninsula
remains relevant to understanding how all these great rivers came to be. Descriptions of another
“smoking hole,” “many trees to portage,” “steeper than it
looks,” and several hand-drawn maps make for a colorful and enjoyable read whether you have
run the rivers many times or are in search of new adventures.
Thanks to Gary Korb for making his book available and thanks to volunteer Eric Vermillion for
taking the time to carefully scan the book. Eric took this on as volunteer project while fighting
Scleroderma, an autoimmune disease that few know about, and asks for support of the Scleroderma
Foundation Awareness campaign
that occurs in June.