Naches - Sawmill Flat to bl. Town of Naches

Naches, Washington, US


Sawmill Flat to bl. Town of Naches

Usual Difficulty II-III (for normal flows)
Length 34 Miles
Avg. Gradient 35 fpm

Paddling the Naches

Paddling the Naches
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe © taken 05/06/07 @ 1880 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Naches Near Cliffdell
dream-551 1200 - 3000 cfs II-III 27d20h44m 225 cfs (too low)

River Description

The Naches is a great river with some wonderful scenery, and good weather in the spring makes this a great day trip on the east side. You can easily turn the run into a two-day trip, starting out on the American, Bumping, or Little Naches, and spend the night at one of the campgrounds along the way. More typically the run is divided into sections which have their own characteristics.

For the first 7.6 miles in the National Forest the run starts out forested with a few cabins and a couple of small riverside communities at Cliffdell and Nile. The river leaves the National Forest shortly after you pass Cottonwood Campground and the trees start to diminish as you float into more arid country and agricultural lands for 18.4 miles down to the Tieton confluence. The geology is impressive throughout and the river provides a great escape for those hot days in late spring and early summer. After you pass the Tieton it's another 8.3 miles to the town of Naches through a rural landscape. You get a second shot at this section in the fall when the Tieton Reservoir starts releasing in early September.

Be cautious of diversion structures on this river. There is one dam above the Tieton confluence and another just downstream of the confluence that is extremely deadly and must be portaged.


One popular alternative for this run is to begin your day further upstream by starting on the Bumping at the FR 1709 Bridge (the road to Halfway Flat) or Little Naches . The standard put-in though is to access the Naches at Sawmill Flat Campground, about a mile downstream of where the Bumping and Little Naches join to form the Naches. Sawmill Flat Campground is at Highway 410 mile 93.3 and it has a picnic and day-use area with good river access (i.e. you don't have to hike through someone's campsite to get to the river). Highway 410 parrallels this run on river left and a series of local roads on river right provides different alternatives for access. Cottonwood Campground at Highway 410 mile 99.3 is about the last potential access before the river leaves Forest Service lands but unfortunately no designated access is provided and you have to find your way through a campsite to the water. There are some bridges upstream and downstream of this point and a number of places you can scramble up the bank to the highway.


Note: Lat/Long for the take-out is very approximate and is not necessarily at the actual take-out location.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2009-11-22 06:52:13

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.
June 6 2018 (164 days ago)
dawnpatrol (160042)
June 2-3, 2018. Floated from Little Natches CG to just above Tieton confluence in one day, then
from just below the irrigation dam downstream of the Tieton confluence to below the town of Natches
the next day. Beautiful, mellow float in 13-foot rafts. Lots of wood in the river, but no
obstructions. Water level was about 1,300 cfs, and that's about as low as you would want in a raft.
The only remaining irrigation dam in the stretch that we floated that is a hazard to boaters is the
one just below the Tieton confluence.
July 11 2017 (493 days ago)
dvancleve (159176)
I just had a very enjoyable day on the Lower Section of the Naches from the Woodshed Restaurant to
the Y (Highway 410 & 12 intersection). It was running at 900 CFS. You can run it lower than shown
in a kayak or a canoe. The upper section from Halfway Flats Bridge to Cottonwood campground is good
at 1100 cfs.
May 10 2016 (920 days ago)
Sunflower (158196)
Major log jam ~ 1/2 upstream of Cliffdell/Swamp Creek confluence.
April 10 2011 (2778 days ago)
benmurray4u (151928)
We put in at nile road and ran to hwy 12. Water was at just under 1300 but was still moving quick.
There was one 3/4 river wide strainer but there was a nice Eddie river left. The old broken up
diversion dam was not a problem, we took a line down the center. Would run it again, it was a nice
warm up for the season.
October 6 2006 (4424 days ago)
David ElliottDetails
The stretch from the Tieton confluence down to the town of Naches has 3 diversion dams. The first
can be seen from the road, and it should be portaged on the right (it's an easy portage that puts
you away from the dangerous parts of the dam). The second is about 4 miles later, and is only a
couple of feet high. The third is another mile or so down the river. It's about a 6 foot drop over
boulders. The easiest runs are on the downstream side (river right), but there are also slots on
the far left and about 15 feet from the left.

The takeout at the bridge in Naches is pretty easy and convenient, but the eddy on river right next
to the bridge is small and not easy to hit. Stage boats at the eddy about 50 feet above this and
have them come in one at a time.
May 31 2004 (5282 days ago)
David ElliottDetails
Bennett lists Cottonwood Campground as an access point, but as of 2004 it is no longer a reliable
option unless you are camping there (you might get someone camping there to let you use their
campsite to park, but don't depend on that). Luckily, there's a nice access point on river left at
the bridge on Old River Rd.

The best reason to use this access is to either extend the Little Naches or the lower American.

Do more than just check gauges; join over 5,000 AW members today.

Or, consider donating

Associated Projects

  • 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.