A look at some of the photos in the image gallery below gives you a glimpse into how wild and awesome the White Salmon River can be, but really you must get out there and experience if for yourself. It's a stunningly beautiful and powerful river that provides whitewater enthusiasts with a whole of fun.
The White Salmon River in Washington flows year-round thanks to ample aquifers and glacial melt from Mt. Adams. The waters of the White Salmon are clean, clear, cold, and fast flowing.
What Makes It Great
The White Salmon River is not as well known as it should be for how excellent the boating is there. The aforementioned glaciers on Mount Adams, along with the immense aquifer found in this area, make for an incredible summer boating experience all summer long. When the water levels go down in the spring, the boating gets a bit more technical and playful.
The river frequently presses its way through narrow gorges producing a ton of Class III and IV rapids, but also spreads wide and calm in some places, allowing for mellow drifting. The surrounding forest is wondrous and wildlife sightings on the banks are abundant. The recent removal of the Condit Dam means even more river to run. The Farmlands section of the White Salmon is heaven for kayakers. In the summer, this narrow section sports some of the best Class V whitewater in the Northwest. There are a few Class V waterfalls as well, but everything in this stretch is easily scouted and portaged. Even the lower section of the river that is heaven for rafters offers numerous Class III and IV rapids and one potential Class V drop over Husum Falls.
One of the best intermediate runs in the area, possibly the in whole state, starts at BZ Corner and starts with some easy to read class IV drops called Maytag and Top Drop. If that is too much at once without a warmup, there is an option to put in right downstream of those two. There is pretty much continuous action for the next couple of miles and the Class III rapids you will face here include Grasshopper, Siwash, Corkscrew, and Waterspout. After the river calms down a little bit, you will reach Stairsteps, which is the last significant rapid before you reach the famous Husum Falls. There is a sign of warning here for those who would not be comfortable with the class V drop and it is very easy to scout and portage on the river left. Below the falls, there is another fun class II/III rapid and you can take-out here on river left.
Who is Going to Love It
This river has something for everyone to enjoy from beginner runs to some of the most challenging whitewater out there. Even in the summer, the river is extremely cold, so make sure you dress to be comfortable in those temperatures. The run described in this article is best suited for intermediate or experienced paddlers.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
To get to BZ Corner from Portland, take I-84 E to exit 64 for Mount Hood Highway toward OR-35/White Salmon/Government Camp. Turn left onto Button Bridge Road and continue on Hood River Bridge. Turn Left on WA-14W, turn right onto WA-141Alternative N, which turns right and stays WA-141 Alternative N. The parking area will be on the right around milepost 12.5.