Cle Elum - 3 - Cle Elum Dam to confluence with Yakima River

Cle Elum, Washington, US


3 - Cle Elum Dam to confluence with Yakima River

Usual Difficulty II (for normal flows)
Avg. Gradient 24 fpm

Cle Elum below dam

Cle Elum below dam
Photo of Jennie Goldberg by Thomas O'Keefe В© taken 07/20/02 @ 3100 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Cle Elum Below Cle Elum Dam
dream-553 1200 - 4000 cfs II 20h01m 210 cfs (too low)

River Description

SEASON: Late May through early September. Dam release is relatively stable although fluctuations can occur without warning.


As long as there is a good snowpack and the reservoir is full, this run typically has good flows through the summer. This river has fairly continuous class II rapids with some good wave trains. Beginners will find the run enjoyable at the lower limit of flows but there are fewer eddies at the higher limit of flows. Log hazards are a prevelant along the run.

LOGISTICS: From I-90 take exit 80 and head for Roslyn/Salmon La Sac. 0.4 miles from I-90 you will cross the take-out bridge over the Cle Elum. Parking options are not great here, but you'll find a pull-out for a couple cars on the river right side of the bridge. There is good access downstream river right of the bridge. To reach the put-in, continue 2.3 miles east from the take-out bridge to the intersection with Higway 903 and turn left towards the north (at this point you're at mile 4.2 on Highway 903 which becomes Salmon La Sac Road). Pass through the town of Rosyln and continue north to one of two possible access points. The first is an informal Forest Service site along the river. At mile 8.6 on Salmon La Sac Road turn left on Winston Road. Follow this road 1.2 miles to an access point right on the river. It is a gravel road and there are several turns that branch off to gravel pits and staging areas but just stay generally straight and towards the end you will go down a hill to the river (you should see a Forest Service sign board and some informal camp sites). The next access is a short way up river but the road to get down the river is in worse shape. You reach it by turning left off Salmon La Sac Road at mile 9.1 on to Lake Cabin Road , and then take a second immediate left following the sign to Cle Elum Dam. Continue 0.5 miles toward the dam and turn left on to an unimproved dirt road (high clearance recommended). From here it's 0.4 miles down to a bridge with a put-in on river left. This site has also been formally developed as a salmon viewing site and it's a great place to watch fish in the fall.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2009-06-07 06:03:43


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.
September 10 2014 (1529 days ago)
Kathy SpencerDetails
I didn't go back to look for my Mohawk Probe because the river stayed high so long. Haven't heard
that anyone found it. My mishap was about a mile below the put in - not at the dam, but the first
one after that. I flipped where there was a line of obstacles across the river, got back in the
canoe when it stopped at a log jam past the next corner and then dumped again when I hit a log jam
on river left at the corner after that.
August 3 2014 (1567 days ago)
Jensers (156786)
We did this Saturday the 2nd of August 2014 - Ms. Spencer must have got her boat out as we did not
see it. The flow at 3700 is above recommended, but there is no reason not to run it as it is a cake
walk other than avoiding the logs and strainers in a few areas. Of those areas, only one is a
concern - perhaps a mile or so after the put in you will get stacked and pinned if you dont make
the corner (I imagine this is where the boat was lost). We will take the other side of the river
next time that essentially cuts the corner (will still require you are on your toes), but this go
round we just walked around the jam. The only decent rapids are in the area just before you start
to see the Suncadia lodge and the take out, but dont have high expectations as it is fairly basic
stuff. One note: There were crazy swarms of mosquitos at the take out - It was not a fun wait for
my buddy to go and get the truck - so be aware of that.
July 6 2014 (1595 days ago)
Kathy SpencerDetails
2014-07-05 My Mohawk Probe teal canoe became stuck on a log jam, a mile or two below the put in
accessed from Morel or Winston Rd. It happened on the upstream side of an island, at the flow of
3200. (When we left home, the gauge read 3000). If anyone removes it, they may keep it if they send
me the dry box. There is an electronic toyota key inside the dry box. It would also be nice to have
the small PTCC dry bag and the throw bag. I would pay for shipping those items. If you don't want
the canoe, I could probably arrange to get it. I should have heeded the comment that 3000 is too
fast for senior citizens!
August 13 2010 (3017 days ago)
Dann (150931)
I have to disagree about running this section when the dam is letting out a lot of water. I was
there a few weeks back and diverted to another river because if any of the kids or senior citizens
in my party had fallen in that fast current we would have had a hard time getting them out. For
experienced and you strong beginners not a problem but for a family outing don't try it when it is
over level. If the log jams are cleared out of the Yakama river you can run it from below the John
Wane trail near the golf cores to the confluence but 3 weeks ago it was full of log jams that
blocked the whole river. At the confluence was also dangerous because of the high volume of water
coming in from the left and a log jam on the right.
March 19 2004 (5355 days ago)
Karen HensleyDetails
The comments above about the maximum river level could be higher need to take into account the
river rating of Class II. It may be possible to paddle this stretch at the higher levels mentioned,
but the river flows to fast into that log jam for beginning paddlers.

An alternate Put-In: Take Salmon La Sac road, thru Roslyn and Ronald. About 1.2 miles beyond the
town of Ronald, (or town or 6.l mi from Roslyn, or 6.5 miles from turnoff on SR 903) look for a
gravel road going only to the left. Turn there, it is Winston Road. Have faith and continue
driving, bearing left where there is a choice. You end up at a small gravel-taking area, with a
steep former drive (rocks only) down to the river. This area won't be built on. It's National
Forest Recreation area.
September 1 2003 (5555 days ago)
David ElliottDetails
The maximum recommended flow of 3000 seems a little arbitrary. A couple of us ran this section at
3800 and the only difference was that it was a little faster.

In the summer of 2003, the only real problem on this run is a log jam about a mile below the
put-in. The river makes a sharp left turn, and the entire right half of the channel is filled with
trees, while the left half is too shallow to run. The easiest run is to make a sharp left, beach on
the gravel bar, and drag/crawl 10 feet back to the small channel in the left.

At above 3000cfs, this run takes around an hour. It can be extended by running down into the Yakima
and down to the confluence with the Teanaway. This stretch parallels I-5 for a few miles, and the
scenery includes a few RV parks, but the last 3-4 miles of this stretch are much nicer. The run
from the Cle Elum dam to the Teanaway confluence makes a nice day in July or August.
July 28 2003 (5590 days ago)
David ElliottDetails
A better takeout is just downstream from the bridge on river right. There's a nice eddy and plenty
of room to gather equipment.

One minor thing about the put-in: When you turn left on Lake Cabins Rd, the immediate left is
really going straight, because Lake Cabins Rd turns right immediately - if you really took an
immediate left, you'd be in someone's driveway.

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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.
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