Klickitat River Rafting Guidebook

The Parrot Crossing section of the Klickitat River is a beautiful spring run that can be done in a day or easily stretched into an overnight trip. The 18-mile stretch features dense forests, towering basalt columnar cliffs, and fast-moving Class III whitewater. Ample boulder gardens and waves make it ideal for boaters looking to improve their skills while exploring a new area.

About This Guide

This guide covers the Parrot Crossing Section of the Klickitat River, which is the most commonly run stretch of the Klickitat River.

Safety

The Klickitat River is a solid Class III run. Wood on the river is the most serious concern. Boaters need to be very aware of trees pilling up in corners and potentially blocking entire channels. The ability to boat scout, catch eddies, ferry and communicate within a group is essential to everyone staying safe on the Klickitat. Wet suits or dry suits are recommended. Wrap kits are also recommended on this river as there are numerous places to wrap a boat.

Permits

A permit is only required for commercial outfitters to run the Klickitat River.

How to Get There:

The put-in road is typically snowed in until a spring thaw and is likely to have numerous tree falls blocking the route. It would be wise to check with boaters who have seen the road to gauge the condition before departing. Click here for directions to the put-in.

Flows for the Klickitat River are taken at the Summit Creek Gauge. Flows are generally broken into the below categories:

Low Water 1,500-2,000 cfs

Slow moving, technical, more chances for rafts to get stuck on rocks, few flipping hazards, eddies are abundant and easier to catch. 

Medium Water 2,000-2,800 cfs

Easiest flow; Pace quickens, channels have enough water to navigate without getting stuck, eddies are still available, holes and waves are forming but still lack real power. 

High Water 2,800 cfs <

Hardest and most fun flow; fast pace, holes and waves big enough to flip rafts, fewer eddies, difficulty pushing into Class III+, IV- at really high flows. 

Klickitat River Comprehensive Guide

WARNING: Conditions change frequently and may make this guide useless. This guide is NOT a replacement for sound judgment or experience.

Point of Interest

Bridges, private property, etc.

Put-In / Take-Out

The most commonly used access points.

Class II Rapid

Class II rapid or river feature.

Class III Rapid

Class III rapid or river feature.

Parrot Section – Class II & III

Length

Parrot Crossing Put-In to Leidl South Boat Ramp is 18.8 miles.

Difficulty

Moderate

Average Gradient

The Parrot Section Run drops ~ 45feet per mile.

Shuttle Time

Parrot Crossing Put-In to the Leidl Campground Take-out is about 1 hour round trip. Google Map directions.

Mile 0 – Parrot Crossing Put In: River Right. The drive down to the Parrot Crossing can be a bit difficult but it is a straightforward put-in. Learn more about directions to Parrot Crossing.

Mile 3.2 – Historic Logjam: An island splits the river into two channels above where there once was a large logjam. This is no longer in play, but the Klickitat is a dynamic river so it could return at any time. The left channel takes you close to a beautiful basalt cliff and steers clear of where the logjam used to be.

Mile 3.3 – Columnar Basalt Cliffs: River Left. Throughout much of the Klickitat River, you will be surrounded by towering columnar basalt cliffs, much like the cliffs on the left-hand side of the river.

Mile 3.99 – Deer Creek Confluence: River Left. Deer Creek enters the Klickitat River on the left-hand side.

Mile 5.05 – Wild Mile: Class III. The best whitewater in this section is the mile or so above the Fish Hatchery. Enjoy a mix of continuous waves, holes, and boulder gardens.

Mile 8.07 – Above Fish Hatchery Take-out: River Right. With the best whitewater upstream, many chose to take out above the Weir at the hatchery. The take-out eddy is small and difficult to spot. If you are in rafts, space out to allow time for boats to get pulled out of the water. Walk on an obvious path up to the parking lot.

Mile 8.1 – Klickitat Salmon Hatchery: River Right. The Klickitat Salmon Hatchery focuses on the restoration of salmon into the Klickitat River that have been stressed by the implementation of the Bonneville Dam. If you are putting in or taking out at the hatchery, it is worth a visit to the hatchery.

Mile 8.28 – Fish Weir Rapid: Class III. There is rebar scattered throughout this rapid that is best run or portaged on the left.

Mile 8.64 – Below Fish Hatchery Put-in: River Right. For boaters who want to cut this trip in half and eliminate the hardest whitewater, putting in below the fish weir is a good choice. From here you are 10 miles from Leidl Campground, and there is a lot of read and run Class II whitewater.

Mile 10.51 – Wonder Falls: River Right. Wonder Falls spills into the Klickitat River on river right.

Mile 10.83 – Outlet Creek Confluence: River Right. Higher up on Outlet Creek is Outlet Falls, a very impressive 70ft waterfall that can be seen on the drive back from the take-out.

Mile 13.64 – Klickitat River Bridge: The Klickitat River Bridge passes overhead. Take-out is roughly 5 miles below this point.

Mile 13.66 – Summit Creek Confluence: River Left. Summit Creek enters the Klickitat River just downstream of the Klickitat River Bridge.

Mile 18.8 – Leidl Campground Take-Out: River Right. Easy access take-out just past the bridge on the right.

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