White - 3. Buckley to Auburn (Lower)

White, Washington, US


3. Buckley to Auburn (Lower)

Usual Difficulty II (for normal flows)
Length 12.5 Miles
Max Gradient 48 fpm

Kayaking the White River

Kayaking the White River
Photo of Michael Deckert by Thomas O'Keefe В© taken 01/06/08 @ 960 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-12100490 1000 - 3000 cfs II 01h11m 1050 cfs (running)

River Description

This is one of the most remote river corridors in the Puget Sound lowlands and one of the few places with more than 10 miles of river uninterrupted by any bridges or riverside development. A few houses are visible high atop the bluffs but otherwise the river is the domain of fish, wildlife, and birds. This legacy of a protected river corridor is the result of the lands being owned by Puget Sound Energy, and efforts are underway to conserve this undeveloped river corridor for future generations.

As a whitewater run the best rapids come in the first 1/3 of the run with plenty of fun class II rapids. Towards the middle 1/3 of the run the river spreads out into channels that shift from year to year along with wood hazards. Because of this wood hazard this is not the best beginner run and you can expect to portage a couple times. The final 1/3 of the run has a slightly more defined channel and some rapids but not quite as frequent as at the start. All along the run high bluffs of glacial outwash sediments record the geologic history of this river valley.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2004-07-09 17:22:20

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.
January 23 2017 (538 days ago)
andrewhalverson (158569)
Floated yesterday from 410 bridge to Ballard Park at around 1600cfs, only one tree to portage about
1/2 to 2/3 of the way down, you might be able to sneak by at a higher flow. Lots of intimidating
looking logs and jams, so being attentive is strongly recommended. Super nice river!
July 24 2016 (722 days ago)
BenHughey (158438)
Floated from Buckley to Auburn on Saturday, July 24 in inflatable kayaks (advanced elements
airfusion). No log jams to portage and lots of great scenery. We hitchhike shuttled, which was
successful from the take-out up to Hwy 164 and from Enumclaw down to the put-in, but had to resort
to the King County Metro Bus 186 (accepts Orca card) between Auburn and Enumclaw. The DOT lot on
the north side of the river, west side of Hwy 410 has a locked gate, but there's enough room to
pull off the road and unload boats in front of the gate. The treated effluent outflow structure
serves as a very convenient dock for entry, just put in upstream! I found this float to be a blast
as a beginner paddler. Fairly constant little rapids, with a few splash-you-in-the-face wave
trains. Great scenery and wildlife, with very few people. The downed trees added an element of
doubt and a few look intimidating, but we were able to paddle past each log jam. We took out just
upstream of the R Street/Kersey Way bridge in Auburn, but wouldn't recommend it. Had to haul the
boats up a steep pitch and toss over a low fence into Ballard Park. Paddle this river!
September 5 2011 (2505 days ago)
krebby (153483)
Two of us packrafted this stretch on Sunday, 9/4. Putin at bridge on 410 in Buckley. Takeout was
bridge on Kersey Way. Flow was around 800 cfs. The flow was good enough that we hardly hit bottom
the whole run. It was a perfect mix of rapids and bird/salmon watching for 2 beginners who have
never rafted this stretch. Arguably, the funnest rapid, was just before the takeout of the bridge
literally like 100 meters from it. The river constricts and the flow is fast with some good waves.
Logs on left, but not an issue. Had so much fun, did it a couple times. The amount of salmon in the
river is phenomenal right now. Fish everwhere! Reminds me of movies I see about Alaska rivers. With
that, there were also a ton of birds. We must have seen 12 bald eagles. We also saw a bunch of what
maybe turkey vultures. Not sure, nonetheless, they were huge and cool to watch. There was one
section about halfway through where we portaged around a log crossing the river. I'm not sure if it
was passable or not, but knew it wasn't for us. Other than that there were a couple other areas
where logs jammed the majority of the river off, but we managed to pass by without an issue.
Everything was identifyable early and there was plenty of time to get out of the water to check
them out if need be.

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Associated Projects

  • Puyallup Watershed (WA)
    Major rivers of the Puyallup watershed include the Carbon, Puyallup, and White which drain the western and northern slopes of Mt. Rainier which we are working to preserve and protect.