SEASON: Throughout the winter
TAKEOUT: To reach the takeout, turn onto the Queets River Road which leaves Highway 101 at mile 144.6. At Queets River Road mile 1.9 you'll find the Hartzell boat launch.
PUT-IN: The Queets River Road is washed out near Matheny Creek so to reach the put-in you need to go back out to Highway 101 and travel south to mile 137.5 where you take FR 21 east (this is also marked as West Boundary Road). Follow FR 21 to mile 8.2 and turn left onto FR 2180 and follow the signs where this road forks to the left at FR 2180-100 (aka Q2100). This road heads down to the Queets River corridor. Head upstream to the end of the road at the campground right at the top of Sam's Rapid (road mile 13.5). The road continues another 0.2 miles beyond the campground to the confluence with Sam's Creek. If you don't want to do the long shuttle around on Highway 101 you can go downstream on the upper segment of the Queets River Road and the launch at Streator Crossing which is at mile 5.5.
While the Queets is known more for its steelhead fishing than its whitewater, the gauge is an important one for whitewater boaters. Here's what it can tell you with respect to whitewater conditions on the Olympic Peninsula. It's normally the first gauge to check when planning your long weekend trip to the O.P.
The Queets is not much of a whitewater run as there is really only one section near the put-in with any kind of a rapid. The action is in the tributaries with the Clearwater, Matheny, Sam's, and Tsheltshy all providing excellent whitewater opportunities.
Starting at the campground put-in you'll be treated to Sam's Rapid. It might be a stretch to call it a full class II, but you could easily wrap an open canoe if you swamped. While the rest of the run is not that challenging for experienced paddlers, you'll find a few fun sections of class II- boulder gardens and chutes along with some immense log jams that can create class III hazards. If you do run this river use caution and remember that this is a big river with plenty of power and some nasty strainers. True to its rainforest setting, the Queets has an annual discharge 1/4 of the Colorado River yet drains 1/250 of the land area. It's a unique river with all of the headwater sections and most of the main stem protected within Olympic National Park (the lower Clearwater and Matheny tributaries are notable exceptions to this protected status as their watersheds were hammered during the last big logging operations in the 1980's.) The Queets is one of a very small handful of large floodplain rivers in the country that's allowed to meander freely across the valley floor. Old growth forests, young alder stands, and stately cottonwood create an incredibly beautiful mosaic of vegetation. (video clip from the river 1.2 MB)
for additional information see:
Past Queets, a brown sign for Queets River Road. The upper river road is at the second brown sign, first miles are paved.
8 years ago
by Kathy Spencer
Memo and supporting documents on rivers eligible for Wild and Scenic designation within Olympic National Park
Comments of American Whitewater in support of proposed alternative route into the Queets River corridor.
A comprehensive guide to 75 river runs on Washington's beautiful Olympic Peninsula.
USGS Queets gauge
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.
on Queets @Queets Campground to Hartzell Launch
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