Similkameen - Palmer Lake to Shankers Bend

Similkameen, Washington, US


Palmer Lake to Shankers Bend

Usual Difficulty I-II(III) (for normal flows)
Length 17 Miles

Similkameen River Valley

Similkameen River Valley
Photo by Rich Bowers taken 04/28/08

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-12442500 1000 - 3000 cfs I-II(III) 00h51m 579 cfs (running)

River Description

Known for good whitewater on the Canadian side of the border, the Similkameen carves a more mellow course in Washington State with a few class I/II rapids over the last few miles of the run. The river then cascades over Enloe Dam and the dramatic Coyote Falls (aka Similkameen Falls), at one time used for power production, before continuing on it's course through a gorge with class III rapids and settling down as it reaches the confluence with the Okanogan River.

Enloe Dam was part of a hydropower project that generated electricity up until 1958. Although the local PUD has made various attempts to resurect the project over the years, the economics are poor and the site offers very limited capacity for hydropower production. The dam has long been a candidate for removal.

Logistics: The put-in is up at Palmer Lake where access is available from a DNR site and the run starts out with a short stretch on Palmer Creek. An intermediate access point about halfway through the run can be used as a take-out for those who want to focus on the mellow section or a put-in for others who want to concentrate on the more challenging section. A good take-out before the reservoir with easy road access is about 1.5 miles upstream of Enloe Dam at Miner's Flat, an unimproved BLM dispersed recreation area where the road closely parallels the river. It is worth checking out Coyote Falls (aka Similkameen Falls) just below Enloe Dam as the focus of the Similkameen River Trail, which will become part of the 1,200-mile Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail. You can put in here to continue a run through the very scenic lower gorge down to the town of Oroville and the confluence of the Okanogan River.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2012-10-20 07:22:31


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
-11.3Miner's FlatN/AAccess Photo
-10.4Shanker's BendN/APhoto
-8.8Enloe DamN/AHazard Photo
-8.7Coyote Falls (Similkameen Falls)VPhoto

Rapid Descriptions

Miner's Flat (Class N/A, Mile -11.3)

Miner's Flat

Miner's Flat
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe taken 10/19/12 @ 570 cfs

Shanker's Bend (Class N/A, Mile -10.4)

Shanker's Bend

Shanker's Bend
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe taken 10/19/12 @ 570 cfs

Enloe Dam (Class N/A, Mile -8.8)

Enloe Dam

Enloe Dam
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe taken 10/19/12 @ 570 cfs

The Enloe Dam was completed in 1920. It is 54 feet with a crest length of about 290 feet. The dam was named after the president of the Okanogan Valley Power Company, Eugene Enloe

Coyote Falls (Similkameen Falls) (Class V, Mile -8.7)

Coyote Falls (aka Similkameen Falls)

Coyote Falls (aka Similkameen Falls)
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe taken 10/19/12 @ 570 cfs

Coyote Falls or Similkameen Falls were also called Squantl or the “Rock Wall” by the Similkameen Bands.

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