Yellowjacket Creek, Washington, US
|Usual Difficulty||IV (for normal flows)|
|Avg. Gradient||78 fpm|
|virtual-7116||400 - 1000 cfs||IV||00h26m||622.88 cfs (running)|
SEASON: November to April with rainfall
ACCESS: It's a class V scramble down to the river at the put-in. See Korb's description in Bennett for the detailed directions on finding the spot where you can enter the gorge just upstream of McCoy Creek
Yellowjacket Creek is a fantastic small river, full of scenic gorges. The rapids range between straightforward ledges to steep slides to boulder gardens, making this a lively run. The first big drop comes quickly, after a short warmup. You can scout this drop right. Here, the river bends right then left through a tight boulder jumble. The line is obvious, but wood would be a disaster.
Below the first rapid, Yellowjacket Creek provides some fun class III boulder gardens as you approach The Meteorite, a series of three small ledges just above the McCoy Creek confluence. This drop can be scouted left and run right. Just below the confluence, prepare for Godzilla, one of the highlights of this run. This series of four ever-larger ledges can pack a wallop as levels increase. Scout left.
Below Godzilla, the river continues through the best drops on the run. This lively section is a hoot, and most drops are boat scoutable, but get out when needed. When you see the river bend right toward a house rock then left into a cliff wall, stop and scout the seven foot sliding falls. At lower levels, you can scout from the dewatered right side of the drop and run as far right as possible in the left channel. As levels increase a right side line opens up.
Below the falls, the river eases to class III for much of the rest of the trip. There is one good rapid remaining, the most scenic drop on the run. When you see a large, light grey basalt wall rising out of the water on river right, prepare to scout this last drop from the left. The run is far right, against the canyon wall. Below the final boulder garden, Yellowjacket Creek returns to class III boulder gardens set in small canyons. When you leave the canyons for the cobblestone gravel fans, you're a half-mile above the takeout.
With contributions from Brian Vogt
for additional information see: