Nisqually - 3 - McKenna to Yelm Hydro Plant

Nisqually, Washington, US


3 - McKenna to Yelm Hydro Plant

Usual Difficulty II-III (for normal flows)
Length 7 Miles

Nisqually River

Nisqually River
Photo of David Elliott by Thomas O'Keefe © taken 12/31/07 @ 1580 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-12089500 900 - 3000 cfs II-III 00h23m 1880 cfs (running)

River Description

With its origin on the slopes of Mt. Rainier, this is a great little float along a Puget lowland river that has not been extensively developed. The first part of the run passes through some residential areas interspersed with patches of forest but as the run passes along the Fort Lewis Military Reservation mature forests border both sides of the river. Wildlife and birds can be seen along this section of the river. Most of the rapids are class II and there are several good boulder gardens that make ideal training areas for those who want to practice eddy turns. Although are some sections of flatwater the river moves along at a good pace and the rapids are fairly evenly distributed. A couple of the rapids push class III particularly as flows increase.

As you see the powerhouse on river left, continue just past it to the boat ramp on river left. Alternative take-outs are available downstream for those who want to continue their journey.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2004-12-03 14:54:35

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
-21.0Boulder GardenII+Photo
-16.0Little KahunaII+
-12.0Military Tank Crossing BridgeN/AAccess Photo

Rapid Descriptions

Boulder Garden (Class II+, Mile -21.0)

Boulder Garden Rapid

Boulder Garden Rapid
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe © taken 01/12/16 @ 2090 cfs

Kahuna (Class III+, Mile -17.0)


Photo of Paul Butler by Thomas O'Keefe © taken 01/12/16 @ 2090 cfs

Military Tank Crossing Bridge (Class N/A, Mile -12.0)

Military Tank Crossing Bridge

Military Tank Crossing Bridge
Photo by Thomas O'Keefe © taken 06/02/15

An alternate access point downstream of the powerhouse.

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