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White Salmon2022-06-24T14:39:18-07:00

White Salmon River Rafting Guidebook

The White Salmon River originates in the Mount Adams Wilderness. It flows for 44 miles before joining the Columbia River. The primary run is made up of exciting, accessible whitewater. If you’re in the area, and you’re a boater, we strongly recommend a visit to this section. At high flows the run is fast and big. At lower flows, the water is beautifully clear and the rapids are still exciting. This stretch is filled with consistent intermediate whitewater, capped of with Husum Falls, the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the United States. In 2011, the Condit Dam was removed, which resulted in the White Salmon River running freely from source to the Columbia River. Check out this awesome video of the demolition of the Condit Dam.

About This Guide

This guide covers the major features of the Middle White Salmon, the Lower White Salmon and the Lower Lower White Salmon.

  • Middle White Salmon: This is the most popular section as shuttles and access are easy, there’s no portage required and practically no flat water.
  • Lower White Salmon: This is the ‘old’ run that would take you into the former reservoir before they removed it.
  • Lower Lower White Salmon: Also known as The Narrows, this is the new section of river that opened up once the dam was removed.

Safety

The White Salmon is a challenging run. You should be an advanced boater if you are to raft it. 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 required and can be completed at the put-ins (self-issued).

Husum Falls

Husum Falls is the final and hardest rapid of the Middle section. It can be scouted easily from the road, which also means there are going to be plenty of people watching you as you make the drop. If you prefer not to run the falls, walking around can be done easily. For reference, commercial outfitters begin running this rapid at 2.5 feet.

Steelhead Falls

This falls features a nasty recirculating hole that you will want to portage. Guidelines are set up on river left to help you pass.

Most boaters on the White Salmon River a stick gauge downstream of Highway 141 Bridge at Husum Falls on river right to determine low, medium and high flows. Here is a pin to the gauge if you have not looked at it before: Husum Stick Gauge.

Low Flows: Below 2 feet the the run starts to get more technical with the potential for pins.
Medium Flows: 2-4 feet
High Flows: Above 4ft things become bigger, faster, more fun, and slightly more difficult.

Although most boaters use the stick gauge to determine flows, here is a link to the CFS provided by the USGS: Husum Falls Flow.

We do not have a preferred partner (yet) for the White Salmon. If you are a commercial outfitter with an excellent reputation we would love to hear from you.

Click here to send us a message.

White Salmon 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.

Raft Surf Wave

Indicates well known surf waves.

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.

Class IV Rapid

Class IV rapid or river feature.

Class V Rapid

Class V rapid or river feature.

Middle White Salmon – Class II, III & IV

The “Middle” section, typically referred to as simply the White Salmon is the most popular section rafted on the White Salmon.

Length

BZ Corner Put-In to Husum Falls is 4.5 miles.

Difficulty

Moderate to Advanced

Average Gradient

The White Salmon Run drops 56 feet per mile.

Shuttle Time

BZ Corner Put-In to Husum Falls is 15 minutes round trip. Google Map directions.

Mile 0 – BZ Corner Put In: River Right. Put-in on River Right. The Maytag Hole is the large feature in the center of the river at this Put-In. For a little extra action, you can drag your boat upstream to run the Maytag rapid. If not, put in just below this hole.

Mile 0 – Maytag: Class III. River wide hole at the Put-In. Can be avoided by putting in below this feature. There is a trail that involves some bushwhacking upstream to give a better lead-in to Maytag Rapid.

Mile 0.02 – Top Drop: Class III. Large wave/hole on river left can be avoided by moving toward river right.

Mile 0.06 – BZ Corner Glenwood Bridge: Bridge just downstream of Top Drop Rapid.

Mile 0.24 – The Cave: Class III. A shallow bumpy rapid pushes you to the right, but work left to avoid an undercut cave on river right.

Mile 0.36 – Shark’s Tooth: Class III. The Shark’s Tooth has wrap potential at low water.

Mile 0.49 – Grasshopper: Class III. Shallow rapid, enter right of center for the least bumpy ride. Watch out for a pourover on bottom right of this rapid. For kayakers, there is a pin potential here at low water, so be on your toes here.

Mile 0.65 – Sidewinder: Class III. Sidewinder is a left-of-center entrance, and blast through the center wave if you want. There is a possible surf wave at the bottom left of this rapid.

Mile 0.76 – Corkscrew: Class III. Enter right at the top of Corkscrew, then enjoy.

Mile 0.97 – Waterspout: Class III. Narrow line between small hole on river right and a boil on river left. Downstream of Waterspout is a large log blocking the majority of the river, with a narrow gap on the far right allowing boaters to pass underneath. Above 4 feet, this gap becomes quite small, and anything above 5 would not be passable in a raft.

Mile 2.73 – Stairstep: Class III. Series of holes, dropping you down in a “Stairstep” fashion. The final drop is the biggest of these holes. Enter and stay center to avoid holes on the right of this rapid.

Mile 3.07 – Bridge crossing: A small bridge crosses the river here.

Mile 4.47 – Husum Falls: Class IV. Husum Falls is a 10′ drop that goes at most flows, but becomes more retentive as flows increase. The most commonly run line is to enter center right (close to the fin rock). This rapid may cause carnage, but at most flows, it is forgiving. Learn more about Husum Falls.

Mile 4.48 – Husum Falls Take-Out: River Left. Take-Out is just below Husum Falls on River Left. A Short walk back to your car parked on river left. Below this point remain a couple miles of Class II+ whitewater until you reach Northwest Lake. This section after Husum Falls is called the “Lower White Salmon”.

Lower White Salmon – Class II & III

The “Lower” section continues on just below Husum Falls, and is considered to be beginner/intermediate.

Length

Husum Falls to Northwest Park is 2.91 miles.

Difficulty

Intermediate

Average Gradient

The Lower White Salmon Run drops ~60 feet per mile.

Shuttle Time

Husum Falls to Northwest Park is less than 10 minutes round trip. Google Map directions.

Mile 4.48 – Below Husum Falls Put-In: River Left. Put-In is just below Husum Falls on River Left. There is a parking lot just upstream on river right. Below this point are a few miles of Class II+ whitewater until you reach Northwest Lake. This section after Husum Falls is called the “Lower White Salmon”.

Mile 4.49 – Highway 141 Bridge: The Highway 141 Bridge passes over the White Salmon River, right as you Put-In.

Mile 4.59 – Husum Street Bridge: The Husum Street Bridge passes over the White Salmon River just below the Highway 141 Bridge. If you pass this bridge, the next easy Take-out is Northwest Park.

Mile 4.6 – Rattlesnake Rapid: Class III. Your quintessential “Blow It Up” Rapid. Get momentum, and hit the wave straight. This is the hardest rapid of the Lower White salmon, and below this point are numerous scattered unnamed Class II rapids. It’s a flippy rapid, and can surf an empty boat, but there aren’t many consequences here.

Mile 7.38 – Northwestern Lake Bridge:  The Northwestern Lake Bridge Passes over the Lower White Salmon, right before Take-Out on River Right.

Mile 7.39 – Northwest Park Take-Out: River Right. After running the Lower White Salmon, Take-Out on river right at Northwest Park, or continue on downstream.

Lower Lower White Salmon – Class II, III, & V

The “Lower Lower” section is the section below Northwest Park. The White Salmon River constricts into a very narrow gorge called “The Narrows”. Be advised there is a Class V known as Steelhead Falls, so be on your toes if you continue on past Northwest Park. This stretch takes you all the way to the confluence with the Columbia River.

Length

Northwest Park Put-In to The Columbia River is 5.0 miles.

Difficulty

Intermediate – Expert

Average Gradient

The Lower Lower White Salmon Run drops ~54 feet per mile.

Shuttle Time

Northwest Park Put-In to The Columbia River Take-Out is ~15minutes round trip. Google Map directions.

Mile 7.39 – Northwest Park Put-In: 45.77985, -121.51662 River Right. The Lower Lower White Salmon begins at Northwest Park.This is a cool stretch, as it takes you through the old site of the Condit Dam, which was removed in 2011. It’s mostly intermediate, but there is one Class V with an easy portage.

Mile 8.86 – Little Buck Creek Waterfall: 45.77066, -121.5378 River Right. Shortly after Put-in, a series of two small but beautiful waterfalls enter the White Salmon on river right. The first of these is Little Buck Creek, which you can park your boat under and take a quick rinse.

Mile 8.91 – Spring Creek Waterfall: 45.77005, -121.53773 River Right. The second waterfall, just downstream is called Spring Creek Waterfall.

Mile 9.12 – Former Condit Dam Site: 45.76716, -121.53815 River Left. This is the site of the old Condit Dam, which was removed in 2011. Check out this awesome video of the dam demolition. On river left, there are some remnants of the dam site you can look at.

Mile 9.83 – Steelhead Falls: 45.75971, -121.53427 Class V. Recommended portage. The river makes a large S-turn, through a boulder garden. When the river turns back to the right, you’ll see a rocky bank on the left. The main feature to avoid is the river-wide hole just downstream of the bend. Learn more about Steelhead Falls.

Mile 10.36 – Old Condit Powerhouse: 45.75435, -121.52826 River Left. You’ll pass the old Condit Powerhouse on river left (no longer in use). Just downstream is Class III Powerhouse rapid.

Mile 10.4 – Powerhouse Rapid: 45.75378, -121.52777 Class III. The river bends to the right, pushing most of the water into the left channel. Keep working right.

Mile 10.5 – Bridge: 45.75257, -121.52725 Bridge crossing.

Mile 11.04 – Finale: 45.74724, -121.5224 Class III. Final rapid of the trip. From here until takeout the river flattens out and is quite mellow.

Mile 12.39- Columbia River Take-Out: 45.72954, -121.52383 River Left. Take out is on river left at the confluence.

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