The White Salmon National Wild and Scenic
River runs through the Columbia River Gorge National
Scenic Area. It offers a wild ride, requiring
advanced skills. The run from BZ Corner to Northwestern
Lake takes 2 to 3 hours depending on the water
level. Conditions may surprise even experienced
river enthusiasts. Class I, II, and III rapids
are continuous with an an occasional Class IV
thrown in for good measure. Husum Falls, rated
Class V, is hazardous and should always be portaged.
The river drops 45 to 50 feet per mile at the
upper end. Canyon walls constrict and accelerate
flows. Rapids are often closely spaced, giving
little time to recover from one and prepare for
the next. Few eddies or scouting opportunities
exist. Beware the undercut cave just
downstream of the BZ bridge.
A boating trip through
the shaded canyon of the glacially fed White
Salmon is typically wet and cold. Cold water
gear and five gallon bailing buckets are recommended.
Plan on using eddies for bailing after every
drop, even in self-bailers. Since there are few
scouting opportunities, those running the river
for the first time should seriously consider
using a professional guide. Life jackets should
he worn by all those running this river.
professional rafting guide services are available
so that even the inexperienced can enjoy whitewater
boating. Those less experienced may wish to restrict
themselves to the lower section between Husum
and Northwestern Lake, keeping in mind that even
this section has rapids that are not recommended
for the novice.
Access is off Hightway 141 at BZ Corner.
A put-in eddy lies just above the BZ Corner Bridge
and a private fee cable launch is available.
If you are feeling timid, put in just downstream
from Husum Bridge at another fee launch. You
will have a shorter run but don't think you have
missed all the Class 3 excitement!
coaster starts immediately downstream from BZ
Corner. The Class 4 Maytag rapids undercut a
cave. Stay left to keep your head on your shoulders
and avoid entrapment. Then onward to a series
of Class 3: Shark's Tooth ; Grasshopper - Run
center right; Siwash - careful of a side flip;
Corkscrew - Move from the right to center as
you speed through; and Waterspout - Run left
through potentially huge waves. The names themselves
evoke the thrills you will tumble through.
get a little respite down to Stairstep Falls
, then you face 4 separate drops - stick right
through the first, then left, the straight through
the final 2.
Husum Falls comes next. You can
pull out just upstream at a free take out or
you can portage the falls. Be equipped for the
portage. The Forest Service recommends you carry
two 50-foot lines to drop rafts down the side
chute during high water. During low water, take
two 100-foot lines to drop rafts down the main
Once you are back in the water, you have
two more Class 3s: Rattlesnake with a short,
sharp drop and Deadman's Corner . A pinning rock
lies left. Start center and move right to avoid
the namesake's fate.
After those, the rest may
seem like a piece of cake: several Class 2s and
some surfing waves. But don't let your guard
down until you hit Northwestern Lake and take
out at the free landing, courtesy of the Pacific
Power and Light Company.
Virtually all the lands along
this segment of the White Salmon River are privately
owned. For years landowners and river users have
been good stewards of the White Salmon River
lands. That has helped to qualify the river for
National Wild and Scenic River Status.
of the private land, this portion of the White
Salmon is managed through existing local and
state, as well a federal regulations. The Klickitat
County Shorelines Management Plan provides protective
measures for a 200-foot zone on each side of
the river. The USDA, Forest Service is preparing
a river management plan for the eight miles of
the White Salmon River designated as a National
Wild and Scenic River. A broad based public task
force was established to help guide future management
of the river corridor. In addition, the portion
of the White Salmon River above this eight mile
stretch is being considered for inclusion in
the Wild and Scenic River system.
and Guides (commercial and non-profit) are now
required to have a special use permit from the
Forest Service for running the river between
BZ Corner and Northwestern Lake.
Salmon River flows from its origin
on the slopes of Mt. Adams, to its confluence
with the Columbia River. In early times, Native
Americans fished and lived along the river. The
area continues to be important to the culture
of contemporary Native Americans.
In later years,
homesteaders settled along the river. Orchards.
farms, and a timber industry were carved from
surrounding forest and continue today as an important
part of the local culture and economy.
settlers gave the White Salmon its name suggested
by the pale bodies of spawning fish which at
times nearly choked the mouth of the stream.
Many species of wildlife make the White Salmon
River and adjacent area their home. In 1986.
the river's outstanding qualities received national
recognition when Congress designated eight miles
of the White Salmon River as a National Wild
and Scenic River. The river's churning rapids
and unique beauty draw recreationalist especially
whitewater boaters. The glacial waters of Mt.
Adams combine with the water of numerous springs.
providing white water boating opportunities that
are enjoyed most of the year.