SEASON: The annual flip-flop typically occurs on our around the weekend after Labor Day. At that time, flows from the Yakima are reduced and flows on the Tieton are increased to serve irrigation interests downstream providing good boating through much of September. The Tieton is also often boatable from mid-May into mid-July when the dam fills up and spills inflow.
FUN FACT: The last "summer" run
PUTIN: There are a couple of options extending as far up as the pool at the base of the dam. The most convenient put-in is used for commercial rafting at mile 166.3 along Highway 12. Other options exist at campgrounds and roadside pullouts.
TAKEOUT: There are also several options for getting off the river. The road parrallels the river for the entire run. Convenient take outs that come near the end of most of the fun rapids are found at the bridges (mile 177.1 and mile 176.6 on Highway 12).
SHUTTLE: This is as easy as it gets. Highway 12 parallels the river. You can nearly always hitch a ride if you need to.
DESCRIPTION: Hordes of commercial rafters, a highway parrelling the river, and the toilet bowl flush of a dam release make this a run many might pass up. But as one of the few places with dependable whitewater in the waning days of summer, kayakers from across the state converge on this popular late summer run. The canyon is beautiful and the water comes at a time of year when decent whitewater can be hard to find. The Tieton comes to life in September and provides irrigation water for the lower Yakima valley when irrigation flow from the upper drainage is reduced for the benefit of spawning salmon.
Most of the run is continuous class II and III rapids. This is not, however, a great beginner run. Lots of brush along the side and the continuous nature of the run present a real challenge for those with less than solid boating skills. Rescues can be a real pain. The first half of the run is characterized by fast water through shallow boulder gardens. The pace begins to change slightly with the approach of a low head dam about halfway through the run. The dam is well marked by signs on river left at 1000' feet that can be seen from the road (most easily when driving in the downstream direction) near mile marker 172. A couple smaller side channels appear here, but the best option is to continue with the channel containing most of the flow as it heads towards river right. Those with solid boating skills should have no problem pulling out on river left once the dam is in sight. The dam can be run, but there are a couple of spots that wouldn't be much fun so if you have any doubts take the conservative route along the portage trail on river left. This is a lowhead dam and deserves your full respect. Shortly after the dam you will boat past some cabins on the river left bank and pass through the House Rock section. This is one of the more significant class III rapids on the run.
Some boulder gardens and slightly more technical sections follow as you come up to the steel I-beam bridge behind Trout Lodge (Highway 12 mile 172.9). The park and play crowd can easily access the bridge from Trout Lodge. This is one of the best play spots on the river. It's not quite the Wenatchee, but it's still good fun.
Waffle Wall comes a few short bends in the river downstream from Trout Lodge. This is the main class III rapid on the run where the photographers set up to take pictures of the bus loads of gleeful rafters. Smile for the camera and avoid getting slammed into the retaining wall on river right. A few more short technical sections follow but the pace of the river quickly slows down and passes under two highway bridges, either of which makes a good takeout. You can continue further downstream, but by the time I get to the bridges I'm usually in the mood to call it a day.
lat/long confirmed by GPS
for additional information:
Please be aware that the take out by the bridge is very small (one boat at a time) and you will be required to have a discovery pass to park.
How the seasonal flows might change!
Don't be fooled! This run is fun and completely doable in a kayak at 500cfs! Just make sure if it is below 700cfs you take out before the dam.
9 years ago
by David Elliott
10 years ago
The gauge is maintained by the
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's Yakima Project (flow
information also available through from the Army
Corps gauge). The
source of water for this section is Rimrock Reservoir.
A level between 1000 and 3000 cfs is ideal. You can
contact the flow information line at 509-575-5854
which will provide you with a daily conditions and the
plan for the next couple days. The same information
is also updated daily on the Yakima Project System Status
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.
Tieton R.- Commercial Rafts
Waffle Wall 1900cfs
Log at Hauser Creek Rapid
Bluntin' on the Tieton 2
Bluntin' on the Tieton
Running low head dam
Downstream from surf spot
Tieton near surfing spot
Bedrock Wall ab. Take-out
If someone gets hurt on a river, or you read about a whitewater-related injury, please report it to
American Whitewater. Don't worry about multiple submissions from other witnesses, as our safety
editors will turn multiple witness reports into a single unified accident report.
The Forest Service is developing a new Forest Plan for the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and has released a Proposed Action. The Forest Service is accepting public comment on this plan that will guide management for the next decade or more.
A land acquisition opportunity
currently exists along the Tieton River
which would bring this important
access and wildlife habitat into public
ownership. The Washington
Department of Fish and Wildlife has
applied for a grant to fund this
acquisition and paddlers are
encouraged to contact their state
representatives in support of this
Log into the American Whitewater website and you can contribute to river descriptions,
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