Cle Elum - 2 - Salmon La Sac Creek to Cle Elum Reservoir

Cle Elum, Washington, US


2 - Salmon La Sac Creek to Cle Elum Reservoir

Usual Difficulty II (for normal flows)
Length 4 Miles

surfing Lower Cle Elum

surfing Lower Cle Elum
Photo of Laurel Hansen by Thomas O'Keefe В© taken 05/16/04 @ 1400 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Cle Elum Inflow Cle Elum Lake
dream-557 1000 - 4100 cfs II 80h06m 430 cfs (too low)

River Description

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:

  • Bennett, J. and T. Bennett. 1997. A guide to the whitewater rivers of Washington, second edition. Swiftwater Publishing. Portland, OR.
  • Wenatchee National Forest

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2003-10-15 01:13:18


Rapid Descriptions

icon of message No rapids entered. If you know names, and locations of the rapids please contact and advise the StreamTeam member for this run.

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
July 4 2011 (2693 days ago)
benmurray4u (151928)
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.
June 21 2002 (5993 days ago)
Mark BlakemoreDetails
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.

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Associated Projects

  • Greenway Whitewater (WA)
    The Mountains to Sound Greenway stretches over 100 miles along Interstate 90 from Seattle to Central Washington. AW is engaged in promoting stewardship and protection of the rivers in this corridor.
  • Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest (WA)
    The Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests are home to some great whitewater runs and AW has in interest in protecting the resource values of these rivers.