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.
Note: Lat/Long for the take-out is very approximate and is not necessarily at the actual take-out location.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Major log jam ~ 1/2 upstream of Cliffdell/Swamp Creek confluence.
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.
Flow for the upper run (above the Tieton confluence) is available from the ACOE Naches at Cliffdell gauge. Look for flows of 1200 to 3000 cfs on this gauge. Flow information for the lower run is available from the USBR Naches at Naches gauge or the ACOE Naches at Naches gauge. This gauge is located downstream of the confluence with the Tieton River. Look for flows of 1500 to 3000 cfs on this gauge. To get a picture of what's happening with flows in the basin, check the USBR tea-cup diagram or the ACOE Yakima Basin map.
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.
Paddling the Naches
Enjoying the Naches
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