Difficulty II
Length Miles
Gauge Cle Elum Below Cle Elum Dam
Flow Range 1200 - 4000 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 2 months ago 200 [CFS]
Reach Info Last Updated 05/30/2019 4:26 am

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.

Rapid Descriptions


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Kathy Spencer
5 years ago

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.

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Jens Jensen
5 years ago

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.

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Dann Davenport
9 years ago

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.

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Karen Hensley
16 years ago

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.

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David Elliott
16 years ago

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.

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David Elliott
16 years ago

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.

Gage Descriptions

The gauge on the Cle Elum River is accurate for this section which is just below the dam. Look for flows of 1000 to 3000 cfs. Information on project operation can be found by checking Yakima Project System Status. The Army Corps provides an alternative gauge interface.

Directions Description

We have no additional detail on this route. Use the map below to calculate how to arrive to the main town from your zipcode.

No Accident Reports




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Kittitas County (WA) Survey on River Use and Access

Evan Stafford

Kittitas County has released a survey to gather input and data on how people are using the various portions of the Yakima and Cle Elum Rivers. It also seeks information from participants as to what improvements would be appropriate. The survey is part of an ongoing effort to develop a strategy for improving access along both river corridors. We encourage paddlers who paddle the Cooper, Cle Elum, and Yakima Rivers to take this survey.


Thomas O'Keefe


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1191889 07/23/06 Thomas O'Keefe
1195366 06/07/09 Thomas O'Keefe
1212502 05/30/19 Thomas O'Keefe updated image position