SEASON: Snowmelt. Usually June.
FUN FACT: Short beginner road-side run.
LOGISTICS: From I-90 take exit 80 and head for Rosyln/Salmon La Sac (those arriving from the east can take exit 84). 2.7 miles from I-90 you'll reach Highway 903, turn left towards the north (at this point you're at mile 4.2 on Highway 903 which becomes Salmon La Sac Road and parallels the run). Continue through Rosyln and past Cle Elum Reservoir to mile 17.4 and the turn-off to FR 4308. The bridge here is a good take-out. To reach the put-in return to Salmon La Sac Road and continue up to mile 21 and the bridge at Salmon La Sac Campground.
The run starts out at Salmon la Sac Campground. Here the river carves its way through a final class III rapid as it emerges from the China Gorge section upstream. This rapid is the site of the League of Northwest Whitewater Racers annual slalom race and the start for the downriver race which has been held in early June each year since 1962.
From the campground, this is a good beginner run with nearly contiuous action but good recovery pools. Many of the rapids are created as the river flows across gravel bars. Low water levels would make these sections less fun, but they are good with moderate snowmelt run- off. There is also some exposed bedrock and large boulders that create good features. The best of these is just downstream of the Cooper Road (FR 46) Bridge. You can see it from the road.
for additional information:
Ran this float today, river at 2250 it was a nice level, not really up in the trees at all. There are 3 good surfing holes here.
On 6-17-2002, there was a huge tree across the river left channel of the river where it splits for the second time below the Salmon La Sac bridge. The first split is essentially AT the bridge and the second is just after you see the Ranger's cabin for the last time on the left. This tree covered the river from bank to bank and would definetly pose a problem if you weren't paying attention and drifted into the left channel. It is easily visable from upstream.
While there is no gauge, discharge for this reach is calculated from change in reservoir height and release from the reservoir downstream. The value can be found on the USBR Yakima Project site as reservoir inflow for the Cle Elum (keep in mind this is a caculated value and sometimes the numbers are a bit off). Look for flows of 1500 to 4000 cfs. To see data from the last few days go to the data archive, select station CLE with parameter QU which is the calculated inflow. It could be run a bit lower although it would start to get scrapy in spots. It could also be run higher although it might make a less suitable beginner run and some of the features would probably wash out. For a second check, the Teanaway River at Forks is maintained by USBR and is the next drainage to the east. The Cle Elum should be good between about 250 and 1000 cfs on the Teanaway gauge. The closest USGS gauge is the Wenatchee at Peshastin. Look for flows of 6000-9000 cfs on this gauge.
Permits are not required for this reach.
We have no additional detail on this route.
Use the map below to calculate how
to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.
Cooper Bridge Rapid
pop up on the Cle Elum
surfing lower Cle Elum
surfing Lower Cle Elum
Lower Cle Elum play spot
Lower Cle Elum put in
Shipley C2 team
Lower Cle Elum
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